5 essential guidelines for nonprofit event planning

Party planning involves a close attention to details and ample preparation. Managing a big fundraiser for donors and potential supporters is a great way to engage people and get them excited about what the organization has to offer. But there are many details, small and large, that go into creating an event that is entertaining, informative and worthwhile for both the nonprofit and its supporters. Making sure all of the criteria for a great event are met is important and the following guidelines are a smart place to start:

1. Find an event that works: Not all nonprofits have the same audience and support system, so it's a good idea to look at past event attendance and find out what worked best for the organization. To make this experience unique and special, it's important for event organizers to do research on potential attendees and create an event that will suit their interests.

The NonPprofit Times said that each and every attendee should enjoy themselves, and when the organization finds what works, it should stick with it as an annual tradition.

2. Have great leadership: In addition to employing the best event organizers, board members can be a great resource for getting the gala off its feet.

Include the board members in event plans and ask them to be a key part in the preparation process. It is helpful if members are in communications with their networking group and are able to create excitement for the event. Developing a committee with the right leadership can allow for a much smoother planning process and the board of trustees are great resources that can make this happen.

3. Ask donors' opinions: Attendees are the most important part of this gala and are the center of attention. The best way to make sure they enjoy themselves is by getting their input and ensuring their voices are heard. After each event get in contact with donors and encourage them to share their opinions. This is possible by asking donors to fill out questionnaires on the website, sending email blasts, or simply calling supporters or meeting them in person. Doing so will help the future success of fundraisers and allows the organization to build on previous experiences to make them better.

4. Overbook volunteers: There are always last-minute details that will need to be taken care of. Asking ample volunteers to take part in the night will help eliminate any stress the day of the event and ensure everything is taken care of and executed smoothly. Plus, if there are not enough tasks for volunteers, they can enjoy the event and share their experiences and stories with other attendees.

5. Measure donation income correctly: The NonProfit Times stated that net income from an event is vastly more important than gross income. While gross income needs to be measured and recorded for financial purposes, the net income of a fundraiser shows how much the nonprofit actually gained and will be able to spend after event expenses are paid off.

6. Follow up and acknowledge

Nothing is worse than forgetting to thank your volunteers and follow up with your event attendees and donors. Make sure that you have a solid plan for getting in touch with these valuable individuals after the event has ended. 

You could:

  • Send out personalized thank-you cards to your committee members.
  • Give your volunteers a call to thank them for their commitment to your nonprofit.
  • Email your attendees letting them know how they can continue to support your organization.
  • Host a small get-together for your committee members and board members to congratulate them on a job well done.

However you plan to thank and acknowledge your volunteers and attendees, make sure that the message is genuine and heartfelt. No cookie-cutter emails here!

Planning and executing an event doesn't have to be a difficult affair! Just follow these 6 steps, and you'll be good to go!

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