Details Are the Key to Special-event Success
Nonprofits cannot overlook the important role that special events play in cultivating donors and prospects in preparation for the “ask.” Special events create opportunities for you to tell your story, communicate your mission and vision, identify prospects and donors, and expand support.
There are two kinds of special events that work well in the cultivation of donors and prospects: events such as fundraising galas and events centered around campaigns. Examples of special events centered around campaigns are kick-off events, events to announce a transformational gift to your organization, ground-breaking events to announce construction of a facility, dedication ceremonies for a new facility, and celebrations announcing the successful completion of a campaign goal.
When planning your event, the focus must be on the details. If your guests feel special, they will remember your organization in a favorable way. The following are a few ideas and tips that can help make any event more successful and enjoyable for participants:
* Take pictures of each guest at the event and later send the picture with a thank-you note. This serves as a special reminder of the event.
* Inquire if guests have special needs such as dietary requirements prior to the event.
* Position official greeters at the doorway to the event (e.g., if the event is being put on by a school, have students be greeters).
* Provide efficient event check-in.
* Give each guest a card stating, “You are seated at Table # ___.”
* Provide a diagram of table locations.
* Give table favors that are tied to your mission. Going back to the school example, paperweights or bookmarks made by students from the school hosting the event would be great table favors.
* Provide individual printed menus listing each course that will be served.
* In your printed program, communicate your mission and the purpose for the event.
* Your program should include a special thank you from someone that will benefit from the event (e.g., the students from the school).
When planning your event, write an event plan, create a time line, recruit capable volunteers to work on the event and have a great time!
The above tips are taken from Betsy Clardy’s book “Making the Most of Your Special Event,” a part of the AFP Ready Reference Series. For information about “Making the Most of Your Special Event,” visit www.afpnet.org/publications/ready_reference_series
Betsy B. Clardy, CFRE, is the vice president for development and alumni relations at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas.