Nonprofit Event Planning Tips for the New Year
The holidays are sweeping past us, which means the wind down from an exhausting giving season is finally here. Your main rounds of donor asks are checked off your list. Now, it is the new year, and donors are expecting greatness. This is especially true given the lofty goals you painted at the holiday gala.
Now, you need to start thinking about the new you. This “new you” represents how you want your nonprofit team to look and work this year to achieve the goals you set forth.
- New Presentation
Critically think about how your team looks during your events. Are they aimlessly “doing their thing” i.e. eating food before your guests? Are they chatting behind the registration table? Are they reenacting an annoying in-office experience from earlier? Are they complaining about having to sell books for the keynote speaker? Offenses like these occur from “winging it”. Too often, I witness teams that are clearly winging it. The night goes off without anyone being set ablaze. However, due to the unprofessional nature of the team presentation, it is apparent that they are winging it and relying on individual prowess.
You cannot rely on a person’s personal prowess or them just “knowing what to do” because they will not do what you feel they are supposed to do. How your team presents themselves at your event or expo booth conveys who you are as an organization as well as your management and customer service standards. Having a great team presentation at your event results in greater donor/client loyalty and more referrals.
If you envision having a well-oiled team, then you need to have systems in place for your nonprofit and corporate event execution/presentation. Create your new identity and teach your team the business etiquette you want them to display at your events and at others. From that, develop your nonprofit key points cheat sheet and distribute it to your event team and leaders weeks in advance. Everyone must be on the same page and aware of the systems in place and on-brand behaviors expected of them.
2. Your Message
I routinely attend $100-$400 ticket charitable events. I am constantly dismayed by how off-script senior executives are during their presentations or how familiar the emcees are. As a guest, it tells me that there was not enough preparation for the event. Most important, it signals to me that despite the fact that I made this charity’s event a priority they did not.
Have a concise, clear message for your team to commit to memory. If a donor asks different team members about your business practices or your primary organizational goals, they expect everyone to give the same answer. Hearing vastly different responses can cause alarm and drastically affect your donor’s philanthropic support.
3. Your Execution
Think about the promises you made over this holiday season about the use of donations. What do you need to execute those promises? Make a list or idea web around what you expect you will need to accomplish each milestone for those goals. Outline how you can portray those successes at your events and online.
Last, as you are creating a new you event execution plan for the second half of the fiscal year, start thinking about your team members’ personalities at the event and during event planning. This is the perfect time to think about rearranging people’s event roles. If there is one really responsive member, have them help with the event and event sponsor communication. If you have someone who is not cheery, place around food prep and coordination. Unfriendly people manning booths is a mistake I see at expos all of the time. Don’t do it. It scares people off, resulting in a negative association with your organization.
This new version of you is unlike the one you promise friends and end up slipping into the same bad habits. With your straight forward guidelines and plans for everyone to adhere to, the new you will be your organization’s new standard for success.