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Live events are more desirable now than ever before, and they can be a great avenue for reaching your non-profit goals. They provide the opportunity to meet sponsors, potential donors, and volunteers face-to-face as well as raise even greater awareness for your cause. But what does it look like to plan a successful non-profit event? Here is a breakdown of how you can plan your own successful non-profit event in the post-pandemic world.
8 Essential Steps to Creating a Successful Non-Profit Event
Step One: Set a Goal
Before you begin planning, the most important step is to set your goals. This will be the foundation from which you build out the rest of your event. Looking to plan an event to welcome back your in-person volunteers? Are you trying to raise funding for one of your projects or hoping to build more awareness for your cause? Or perhaps you need to plan an event to simply thank your current donors. Whatever the goal may be, or however large or small it is, knowing what you hope to achieve is a crucial first step.
Step Two: Create a Budget
It’s important to be realistic about the cost of the event and the expenses that your organization can afford. It is suggested by professionals that non-profit events should bring in a 60 percent profit margin. Take time to carefully budget and ensure that all costs are accounted for. These budgets should include all items such as venue, decor, food, and drinks. Additional costs may include catering, entertainment, any kind of equipment, parking fees, or even valets. Events can get very expensive, especially if you’re trying to “wow” your guests for the first in-person gathering. That’s why it’s important to create a successful budget.
Step Three: Define Your Target Audience
The best way to reach your desired audience is to plan the right kind of event, one that appeals to your potential market. You will find that certain audiences don’t mix in these affairs, so who is your target audience? Are they interested in galas or black tie? Are they willing to donate or spend money at a charity auction? Are they young and influential crowds who can help you raise awareness? By knowing your audience you can plan your event according to their wants and needs, and in return you will have a network of people who can help you reach your goal.
Step Four: Find Sponsors and Donors
Raising money to pay for the event itself is one of necessary action steps. Do some brainstorming and think of people who would be interested in sponsoring the event, or reach out to potential donors. The more money you can raise before the event, the more money you can put towards event costs. If you can raise enough money to cover your expenses, all of the profits from the event can go straight to your cause. A practical way to do this is by dividing your potential sponsors into four categories:
Step Five: Find an Appropriate Venue
The venue sets the tone for the rest of your event, which is why choosing the right location is necessary. If you want to hold a charity gala, choose a venue that is already set up to be elegant and doesn’t require a lot of “fixing up”. If you’re wanting to be Covid-safe, host in an outdoor setting where guests can spread out. Make sure you have plenty of space and the building has the right capacity for your attendees.
If your event is ticketed, organize pre-event tickets and ticketing at the door. Will there be different prices for the different tiers of tickets? Decide how you will sell and distribute. An easy way to take the stress off of managing ticket sales is to set up an online platform. Consider online providers who offer instant payment processing, online payment options, and direct deposits. Maybe you want to include promos such as Early-Bird discounts.
Step 7: Targeted Promotions
It’s time to create awareness of your event and get to advertising. This can be done in various ways, such as social media, print out ads, and newsletters. You can also link to other websites, share your event on podcasts or have it written about in a guest blog. Remember to take plenty of photos during your event for post-promotion, this is especially important if you plan to hold this event annually. You can even promote the event in real time by going live on social media and posting real-time photos and content.
Step 8: Thank Your Guests
The event would not have been possible without the attendees, sponsors, donors, and event contributors. Keep a comprehensive lists of every person who supported your organization and made the event possible. Thank these people for their support before, during, and after the event. Next, send out personalized “thank you” cards or emails. Update those who helped with information on where the funding is going. This will help establish your fundraiser to generate even more interest for the next event.