Challenges in Non Profit Event Planning

There are as many challenges in non-profit event planning as there are types of events, but each can be overcome – or avoided – by identifying potential challenges in advance, and planning your strategy to overcome them.

Non profit galas often focus heavily on one individual – the honoree – to bring in a large percentage of the event’s revenue. Secondarily, the Honorary Committee’s focus is to sell tickets and sponsorships; and thirdly, the silent and/or live auctions bring in incremental revenue to increase the bottom line. The challenge with the honoree is in choosing the “right” one at the outset; identifying an individual who has both interest in your cause and a network of high net worth individuals who will support the honoree by buying tickets, sponsorships, journal ads, and making donations. Success with an honoree starts with a strong succession strategy: identify potential honorees two or three years’ out, and begin to work with them, invite them to each year’s event, set up meetings with past honorees and your prospect to identify what worked & what didn’t, and help the prospect understand his/her role in making the event financially successful. Similarly, your Honorary Committee should be well-connected and committed to both your event and your cause. Lastly, your silent and/or live auction can help to “make or break” your event – secure items that fit the guests in the room: if you have a lot of athletic individuals, make sure to have tech gadgets, gym memberships, massages, coaching sessions, and the like. Have a “summer weekends in the Hamptons” crowd? Little luxuries, such as jewelry, handbags, and VIP experiences (Broadway or live tv show tickets; meet & greet with celebrities; etc.) will bring in the bids. Lastly, consider a third party, mobile bidding provider to encourage continuous bidding and increase your numbers.

Endurance fundraising events have very different challenges, that include event logistics (location, distance, type of event – run/walk, bicycling event, mud/obstacle run, stair climb) as well as individual participant recruitment and fundraising. Once you have the type and location of the event, it’s critical to ensure you have a solid recruitment, communications, and fundraising incentive program timelines in place. You want to ensure that you are using every means available for participant recruitment, including mail, email, social media, word-of-mouth, and any local running/fitness clubs to help you recruit. Once the participants have registered, it’s time to get them fundraising, so work well in advance to build a communications plan that includes “mission moments” – short stories that focus on your cause and who/what has benefited from it. Additionally, you want to include incentives to recruit and fundraise, so build a plan that has a recommended (or required) fundraising minimum, followed by a few higher target levels, at which point the participant “earns” a reward.

Those are just a few of the things we do with our clients to ensure that any challenges they face in planning their events are overcome – often before they even appear! For more information on making your event challenges disappear, contact us.

Darren Port
darren@poweredbyprofessionals.com