Planning a new event for your non-profit is paramount to its success. Recognize first that regardless of the size and the success of similar events by other organizations, first-time events come with both financial and reputational risk. Thus, before committing your organization to take on a new event, it is important to think about several things in an objective manner. Here is a non-exhaustive list of five things I want clients to have thought about in the preliminary planning stages of a new event.
1. What are your broad and specific goals you are trying to accomplish with this event? An example of a broad goal would be to have an event that increases awareness of the organization. An example of a specific goal would be convert a new participant at this event into a donor.
2. Why will this event help effectuate these goals?
3. When are you thinking of having the event? For new (or newly recurring) events, the longer the planning lead time, the better.
4. Does the organization have enough members (or friends of members) who would attend this new event who are not board members or regular donors? How many (or what percentage) of the organization’s membership would likely attend? It is important to compare regular recurring donors against dormant or potentially new or donors to calculate risk.
5. Who are the most likely members who would want to help lead the planning and fundraising committees for the event? Even if you are working with an event planner, the committee chairs and volunteers are going to be the primary source for getting sponsors and participants and a strong core committee is vital to making a new event a success.
Thinking about these things sets the groundwork for everything that follows, including the budgetary planning process.
Do you have any other things that are important in the preliminary planning stages of an event? Please feel free to comment or post.