Event Management Tips - Seven Event Management Tips for Fundraisers

Staging a special event is a reliable method for fundraising and a good way to publicize your organization and your cause. This article contains some practical advice for event planning, event promotion and event management.

1. Decide on the Right Type of Special Event

There are several types of special events. Each has its own purpose and can be very effective if used for that purpose. Confusing the type of event can result in disaster. There are fundraising events, in other words, events that are run to make a profit for the organization. People pay to attend, buy something at the event, or gather pledges and then participate in the event. Similar to these types of events are what is often called third party events. These events are staged by someone or some organization other than the charity for the benefit of a charity. Another form of event is used for cultivation of prospects, recognition of donors or volunteers and to make announcements, such as the launch of a campaign. The purpose of this type of event is not to raise money at the event but to publicize the charity and inform potential donors about something new, with the intention that they will follow-up with a donation.

2. Make Appropriate Decisions Based on Type of Event

If you are running a fundraising event, you need to decide how you will make money with the event. This may seem obvious, but it is sometimes overlooked. Ask yourself if the funds will come from admission tickets, sponsors, sales of items in additional to the admission cost, a silent or live auction, door prizes, and so on. For third party events take these things into consideration. If you are working on the charity side, make sure that you have an understanding of what your role will be. It is easy to get asked to do more than your organization may have the resources to do. If you are the third party, understand how exactly how your event will benefit the charity. If the main purpose of your event is to make announcements and cultivate prospects, you will make more if you offer something for free and make the request for a donation later. Pay attention to how the media are managed at the event

3. Planning the Event

Cover the basics first - secure the venue, have enough food and drinks, book entertainment or speakers, look after details like parking, coat check, security, and washrooms. Prepare a budget based on these basics then adjust as more things are added or sponsors are secured. Prepare a detailed checklist of everything you will need - invitations, RSVP, who orders what and do it well in advance. Make a timeline working back from the day of the event and mark the deadlines for getting invitations out, placing ads in media, payments of deposits, to suppliers and entertainers, and when the RSVP must be received. Walk through the venue and imagine how people will move as they come to the event. Anticipate people's needs and if at all possible, don't have people waiting in lines at any time, get them a drink ASAP, and get them seated or involved.
Double check everything.

4. Promoting Your Event

Brand your event. Even if it is a relatively small event, a unique name, slogan and logo can help to sell the event. Consider building a special website for the event, with a link from your organization's website. A unique URL can help to brand the event and this can also make tracking registrations easier. If you are sending invitations to your mailing list, usually about six weeks to a month is an appropriate time to mail invitations. Use email lists and email invitations and have people register for the event on your website. If the event is open to the public, advertise in the media, using the media that will target your audience. As an example, if your event is upscale, advertise in business media or if your event is family oriented, advertise in community newsletters. Issue press releases when the date of the event is set, about a week before the event and just after the event.

5. The Day of the Event

Rehearse the program - time speakers and make sure they know where to stand and what to say. Test the audio visual equipment and have backup systems in place. If you are doing something that requires some technical skill, like a video presentation or sound feeds for media, hire a technician to be on standby. Always have a contingency plan for bad weather, late speakers, and emergencies.

6. If You Are in Charge of the Event

Never forget that you are working. It can be easy to relax with a few drinks and get into the mood of the event, especially if things are going well. Never forget that you are working. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected. Keep review your check list. Remember that key people - celebrity guests, speakers, entertainers - want to be taken care of and told what to do. Never leave them alone or ask them to decide something. Meet people where they arrive, assign someone to be with them at all times and respond to whatever they request. The most common breakdowns at an event are poor venue (too small, inadequate parking, not enough washrooms), poor food service, a/v breakdowns, and key people who don't show up or show up late. Try to anticipate these problems and solve them if they occur.

7. Wrap - up

Do a final accounting for the event as soon as possible. If a fundraising event, take all costs and revenue into account but also all take other benefits into account, such as an assessment of the value of the publicity you gained, new people you met and so on. If the event is for an announcement or donor cultivation, make sure you have follow-up planned - follow-up calls and letters to participants and to media. Get thank-you letters out to sponsors, suppliers and volunteers as soon as possible.

Author, Ron Strand is a part-time Instructor at the Centre for Communication Studies at Mount Royal College and the President of Strateo Consulting Inc. - a strategic marketing and communications consulting firm.