First, it starts with a story. Have you ever walked out of an event and thought, “Well, that was nice, but nothing special.” Oftentimes, this is because those running the event spent the whole time talking at you, rather than talking with you, and telling you their story. Your organization and your event should have a story—a beginning, middle and end. Everyone loves a good story. It makes them feel important, engaged and like they can make a substantial difference. So, the first secret to success is talking with your organization and figuring out what your story is and how we want to tell it through this event.
In our initial meeting, I sit down with clients and have an in-depth conversation, in order to better understand their mission, message, story and craft an initial draft of the event. If this is an existing event, we look at its history and how it can grow. My goal is to look deeper into the history of the organization and the why for the event. When we understand the why, we can build a more engaging story.
Next, we look at the logistics of your event:
How many guests do you have data for from last year’s event? How much staff and volunteer time are you expecting to dedicate to the event process? Are you aware of any legalities and potential costs in regards such as liquor sponsorships, permitting, insurance or tax-deductibility for your event? Questions like these are vital for looking into the smaller details of every aspect of the event.
More importantly, we want to look at every department within your organization and what its role is going to be for the event. So often with nonprofit events, individual departments have their own objectives and goals they work towards zealously, so eventually the overall mission and goals of the organization are almost lost. Instead, we want to create intradepartmental collaboration within the nonprofit to create the most effective event possible.
During the event, my goal is to engage every guest at each individual level. Oftentimes during fundraising efforts we focus on big-time donors. While these are definitely important, we also want to make sure and engage all potential donors, including the young newbies who want to contribute, but might not be able to give as much. We provide opportunities throughout the event to engage every guest and donor, no matter who they are or what their giving potential is. This allows the event to unfold organically, and connect with new and long-time donors.
Most of all, as your nonprofit event specialist, I become a part of your organization’s team. My goals are your goals. I focus on collaborating together to establish a plan for your event from the very beginning to the very end. I focus on everything from budget and messaging, to event flow, to post-event debriefing, allowing you to focus on the bigger picture: engaging your guests.