Between asking for donations for an auction basket to adding your nonprofit credentials to the venue request, event planning can leave you with very little time to think strategically about your event.
Why this Event?
The most important aspect is that your event attendees have fun, right? Not always the case. Thinking strategically about an event may not be the easiest aspect of an event planning job, but it can be the most important.
Always remember to debrief and check back on your event expenses. Is the annual golf tournament raising the funds it needs to offset the expense? Or do you continue to host the event out of obligation? Keep in mind that nonprofit events need to serve a purpose and should reflect your mission. While the purpose of the event can change throughout the years, make sure it is still accomplishing your end goal.
An event is an investment for your organization so remember to step back and evaluate the success and efforts of your events. Keep thorough track of all expenses and in-kind donations, and most importantly, don't forget to factor staff time into the equation.
As events change over the years, they also need to be revamped. Welcome the change and accept the opportunity of feedback (constructive feedback, please and thank you). Invite longtime supporters onto your planning team. This could be an opportunity to hear from and engage your donors or volunteers. These people will be your advocates and your chalkboard for new ideas. Because no event should be held the same year after year – it needs new ideas, new brains, and new efforts. Getting creative can be difficult so look around to other similar events or organizations to see what they are doing and borrow ideas!
So you have your event, you have your fresh ideas, and you are ready to get started. Now what? Assign tasks to your committee members and be specific. Do you need someone to work with auction items? Who is doing the fundraising? Keep in mind, assigning tasks means assigning responsibility and giving up some creative control. A good event planner can delegate tasks and trusts committee members.
Yes, as the event planner, the majority of responsibility falls on your shoulders. However, don't be afraid to break off chunks and give others full rein. If volunteers feel they have some actual responsibility and the trust to make decisions, chances are they will have fun with it and ask for more!
When to say Goodbye
Last but not least, don't be afraid to say goodbye. Tradition can be an important tool for many organizations but don't let that hinder you when things aren't working out. If the numbers are dwindling or the event has become stale, it may be time to walk away.
Some events are not meant to last forever and some run their course. With the proper financial analysis, survey collection, and debriefs, you should never be afraid to sunset something that just isn't working anymore. It will leave you with more time and resources for the next big idea.
Have fun. Be creative. Always debrief.
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