8 Keys to a Successful Event

If you plan it right, an event is a time when the mission of your organization can shine bright. Events are ingrained into the nonprofit culture and if managed properly can be a valuable tool for expanding awareness, raising money, and building enthusiasm and commitment. The following eight keys will help your event be a shining star for your organization:
Have specific goals. So, why are you having the event? If it’s fundraising, be sure you net dollars from the right audience at the right levels. If it’s awareness, be sure the right attendees heard — and left with — the right message. If it’s recognition, be sure the honorees floated out of the room.

I’ve attended more than one fundraising event where the follow-up talk labeled it a great cultivation event, and that is also a success.

Your goals should include:

  • Participation — numbers and profile of attendees, or even specific participants.
  • Budget — staying within expense budget and if a fundraising event, hitting your net goal.
  • Awareness — this could mean media resulting from the event, increased knowledge among participants or both.

Plan ahead. Any event takes a lot of planning — more than you think. There will be challenges to overcome. The longer your planning runway, the smoother the event will fly.

Have the right team. Be sure you have the right people with the right knowledge and experience around the table. That could be staff, volunteers or a mix. Also, be sure the team understands not only your goals for this event, but the mission of your organization. We’ve seen more than one event “hijacked” by even one strong committee member and the original goal is not achieved.

Make them want more. Have your guests leaving glad that they attended. And if it is an annual gathering, you want them mentally blocking off the date for next year. This means the event:

Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.

Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.

Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.

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  • Kimberly Reynolds

    Nice to see an article reminding nonprofit groups of the importance of keeping their event short and on-time. Even your most ardent supporters grow weary of events that seem to drag on forever…