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I Love an Event: But What Kind of Event?

Nonprofit organizations need to diversify their revenue streams. It’s just common sense. and once you get beyond the annual fund drive the next logical area to consider is special events.

But what kind of event exactly? A walk? A run? A gala ball? A brunch? A chili cookoff? A night of comedy? A night of tragedy? Decisions, decisions! The purpose of this post is to help you focus on organizing the kind of event that might work best for the likes of you!

Here are some factors to take into account when considering which direction to go:

1. Fundraising Committee. Do you have one of these? And if you do, are there members with experience and/or interest in events? Before you launch a fundraising special event, be sure to organize a committee of volunteers of interested souls with an interest and energy to help make it work. Having a group consider type of event will serve you well.

2. Network. Do you have a cadre of volunteers? A base of folks who are using the service of your nonprofit? People who passionately care about your mission and want to help make it work in their community? Events take an audience of active participants, and a solid core of interested people who feel a strong urge to make it work. The key is to get the core group organized, set a timeline, and then engage their networks to build the audience. It’s not magic. It’s hard work and good organization!

3. Communication. Do you have a communications/public relations person on staff? On the board? A group of volunteers who have expertise in this area? If not, it’s time to build a group with this kind of ability. Great special events depend on great communication in social media, broadcast media, print media…you name it. It means communicating.

4. Budget. What’s it going to cost to produce this event? Events cost money. If you can find one or more event sponsors, that’ll be fabulous. But it’s not a guarantee. Frequently, sponsors won’t join the parade until they see a successful first run. But maybe you’ll overcome that obstacle. Maybe there’s a person on you’re board who loves the mission and has a passion for the kind of event you want to do and will get four-square behind it and put some money on the deal. That would be great! Make sure the board is informed on the planning. And be sure there’s a champion for the event on the board, so it’s not totally staff-dependent. Because if it doesn’t work as planned first time around, it’ll be helpful if one or more board members speak up for it and give the effort its due, particularly if you want to try again next year even though it wasn’t a smashing success first time around.

So, get ready for lots of work. Be sure to allocate time for the effort.

There can be a great pay-off if the planning and execution are well done!

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