How to Plan a Successful Nonprofit Event?

How to Plan a Successful Nonprofit Event?

Posted on Mar 28, 2019

A non-profit event offers an opportunity for the non-profit to interact with the community. It is your window to the world where you can put your best foot forward and benefit from monetary and non-monetary gains. Monetary gains entail donations for your charity and non-monetary gains imply nurturing existing donors and engaging with new ones. In this digital world, live experiences make a difference. Therefore, an event has been found to be one of the most effective ways to engage with the audience.

A successful non-profit event can be said to be one which motivates to donate and come back to give more!

Before setting out to host an event, it is a good idea to think about your ultimate objective from the event. You need to be clear about what you are looking to achieve from the event and channelize your efforts towards achieving your objective. Not all non-profit events are fundraising events. Events are also hosted for educating the team about a new initiative by your organization or for attracting new clients. Ascertaining your objective will help determine your budget and allocation of time and resources for the event.

Clarity on the objective will help you determine your target audience. It will give you an idea about who your guests should be and what you expect from them.

The next step is to ascertain what you intend to offer your attendees. For this, you will need to have an idea about the expectations of your guests. A good place to start would be from feedback collected from previously hosted events. This will appraise you about whether your guests what your guests liked the previous time and what was lacking. You can also interview your previous guests and solicit suggestions from them regarding improvements in your previous events. This also creates interest in the minds of the guests for the event as they would like to see if their suggestions have been acted upon.

Following is a brief outline of steps to be followed for organizing a successful event for non-profit:

  1. Set your Goal
    Determine how much you expect to generate from the event.

  2. Allocate a budget for your event
    Based on your goal, you will have to estimate your budget for the event. Plan your budget by carefully estimating different types of expenses that you will have to go through.

  3. Choose your event
    Non-profits host events such as dinners, golf outings, disco, 5Km runs, etc. However, you can always think of some innovative event that will help engage your guests. Choice of the event should be determined by:
    • Your objective
    • Audience
    • Budget
    • Volunteers
    • Time available for hosting it
  4. Book a venue
    Once you have determined the event, decide on a convenient date for your guests. Book a venue according to the date well in advance. Choice of your venue will depend upon:
    • Number of attendees
    • Budget
    • Location
    • Availability according to the date of the event
    • Availability of Wi-fi facilities
    • Parking Facility, etc
  5. Organize speakers, catering, etc.
    If you plan to host an event where you would like to explain about the cause for which you are raising funds, get in touch with champions for the cause to speak during the event.
    In order to get your catering right, it is a good idea to approach your potential attendees through email or social media channels to find out their food preferences for the event.
    Organize entertainment for the event so that your guests enjoy the event.

  6. Look for Corporate Sponsorship
    Corporates like to participate in philanthropic activities as is evident from the fact that Corporations have donated over USD 20 billion to non-profits in 2018(Non-profit fundraising statistics). Corporates not only offer cash donations but also volunteer grant programs. Nearly 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs.
    Securing corporate sponsorship is not a one-time activity. It can be seen as a foundation for a long-term relationship with the sponsors. Therefore, it is vital that you have the right approach towards it.
    • Look for such organizations whose goals are aligned to the vision of your non-profit.
    • You will need to approach corporates and communicate your objectives through the event. Explain to them how the community has benefitted from your philanthropic activities.
    • Enlighten them how they will be featured and promoted in the event.
    • Instead of offering a standard package to your sponsors, it is a good idea to discuss with them and find out what their expectations are and create a customized package for them.
  7. Form teams
    Hosting an event entails a number of activities. It is recommended to form specific teams for conducting various tasks. You can have members of your organization and volunteers from the community as team members. As the trend towards philanthropy increases, stats indicate that 25% of adult Americans devote their time, talents, and energy to volunteer for fundraising activities(As per online giving statistics by non-profit source). Therefore, it will not be very difficult to find volunteers for your event. You can assign various tasks such as logistics, sales, marketing to individual teams and have an overall team coordinator to ensure that the teams are working in tandem.

  8. Promote your event through different channels
    Promotion of the event is one of the key ingredients for the success of your event. You will need to promote through your website, social media channels, print media, direct mail, email, etc. Corporate Sponsors can also chip in for promoting by adding a widget on their website and through their social media pages. Social media is a powerful force when it comes to promoting an event. In fact, 25% of the traffic for registration and ticketing can be attributed to social media(Eventbrite).

    Based on the demographics of your audience you can use the following methods for promotion:
    • For older generations, methods such as cold calling and direct mails are most effective.
    • To catch the attention of 18-49-year-olds, Facebook works as the best channel. In fact, Facebook can be used for selling tickets directly.
    • Twitter is popular among individuals in the age group of 18 to mid-twenties.
    • You can leverage LinkedIn for promoting your event by joining groups relevant to your cause.
    E-mail marketing offers you a platform to explain in detail the cause and highlight various aspects of the event. The data on e-mail marketing indicates that in the event industry, 45% of event ticket sales can be attributed to e-mail. (Eventbrite). The e-mail should be used effectively with catchy subject lines, attractive imagery, personalization, etc.

    Other than these methods, other digital marketing techniques such as content marketing where relevant content about the event is posted are also found to be effective.

  9. Set up your venue for the event
    Check your venue prior to the event to make sure that everything is in order. It is recommended that before the actual event, you collect the various teams, volunteers, vendors, caterers, etc. to plan out exactly how the event will take place. Ensure that all the equipment and hardware required for the event is in place and functioning.

  10. After the event
    After the event is over, it is time to check how it has performed. By evaluating the success of your event, you will be able to assess whether you have achieved your goals.
    You can assess the success of your event by:
    • Checking how many guests attended the event. If it was equal to, below or above your expectations.
    • If the funds collected at the end of the event met your goals or were they below or above your set goals.
    • You can collect the feedback from the attendees through feedback forms which will give you an idea about what they liked and did not in the event. You can also ask for suggestions for improvement for future events.

    An event is a good time to connect with your guests. You can also ask them for their contact details or email addresses so that you can keep them updated for future events.
    Are you looking for a channel to promote your cause or event? Join iConnectX! We offer a free social platform for connecting professionals, executives, experts and companies with non-profits so as to increase participation in events, auctions, donations.

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