5 Simple Steps to Build a Better Event
By A.J. Steinberg, guest blogging for www.CharityHowTo.com
Sometimes bad events happen to good organizations. Yes, it’s true. Even the best nonprofits sometimes miss the mark when it comes to creating successful fundraisers.
After an event flops, executive directors and board members scratch their heads trying to figure out how things got so off track. They wonder what steps could have been taken to better engage guests and raise those much-needed funds.
We can all empathize with these organizations. No one wants their event to have unsold tickets, lackluster stage programs or disappointed guests. We all want to raise money and build strong community bonds, especially after all the time and resources expended in the planning and execution of these events.
As a nonprofit event planner with 20 years of experience, I know the secret to successful events isn’t an over-inflated budget, ridiculously large silent auction or overly-long stage program.
The secret to successful events is building it right!
By starting your event planning with these five simple steps, you will be laying a strong foundation that will grow into an event of which your organization can be proud.
5 Simple Steps to Building a Better Event
1. Define your event’s goals
This critical first step is often overlooked because organizations consider events simply a way to raise funds. Don’t sell your event short! There are five goals you should target for your event. They are:
To raise funds – Do the math to create a realistic financial goal
To raise awareness – This is your chance to promote your organization and its’ mission
To promote a new program – Tell your guests know about your current work
A call to action – Consider how you can engage your guests in your work and mission
Community appreciation – Let your guests know how integral they are to your organization
Once you have identified your event’s goals, write them down! Let your entire team know what your objectives are for the event.
2. Identify your target demographic
Who is going to come to your event? You need to figure out specific characteristics of your desired guests so that you can create an event that appeals directly to them. Here is what to consider:
Gender – Are you trying to attract males, females or both? If you want to have men attend, consider a golf tournament. If you are targeting women, host a fashion show or shopping boutique. A community festival or gala appeals to both sexes.
Age – Do you want families with children to attend, or are you keen on having millennials as guests? Are you aiming for the seniors for this event? Determine your ideal guests’ age to help you with creating an appealing event, as well as help you with your marketing down the road.
Income – Keep in mind that certain demographics are less able to pay $300 for a gala ticket. If you are looking for young families or millennials to be at your event, craft an event that allows for lower ticket prices.
Personal Interests – Does your targeted guest like to be outside and active? If so, choose an event that is outdoors that allows guests to move freely and mingle. Are you targeting seniors who are less mobile? Create an event that allows for assigned seating. Are your target demographic pet lovers? Consider hosting an event that allows them to bring their furry friends.
3. Choose a date and location that are convenient
Unless your support base is scattered along a broad geographic swath, find a venue for your event that is convenient for your targeted guests. Also, choose a date for your event that doesn’t overlap with other community happenings that could compete for ticket sales. Check your online school, community and religious calendars to ensure you aren’t choosing a date that has obvious conflicts.
4. Choose a realistic ticket price
Carefully consider what your supporters and target demographic can afford. Analyze what you are offering them – overcharging is a real turnoff for event goers.
My rule of thumb is that ticket sales should pay for the event’s hard costs such as food and beverage, venue fees, and rentals. If your target demographic can’t afford $250 per head, then consider a lower priced venue and event.
5. Use an event committee
Your event committee is a crucial component to ensure your event’s success. The committee not only helps you with the work associated with the planning, but they bring invaluable contacts and resources for your event. Each committee member has an army of friends, relatives and colleagues – all keen to be supportive in any way they can. Committee members round up auction donations, help solicit sponsorships and are key to boosting your ticket sales.
When you start your event out right by following these five steps, the ensuing planning process will be easier and have greater success. As I like to say, “If you build it, they will come. But, if you build it right, they will bring their friends!”