Charity events, like all events, require careful planning. You can become a great event host by following these 12 steps.
Before you begin, know what your goal is. Many events are held to raise funds. But they can also be designed to raise friends. Friendship fundraisers can be held to show appreciation to volunteers and/or donors or to widen your circle of friends. Friend fundraisers are just as important as fundraisers and should be held more often than fundraisers. Make sure you have both on your calendar!
Once you’ve established what you want to get out of the event, the procedure for making it great is the same for all events. Here it goes:
- Consider your mission. Always. Do not consider any event that does not advance your mission. You exist to fill a need, not to party. Each individual event should be designed to bring you closer to your vision.
- pick a topic – this is fun and important. A theme drives everything else you do. Be creative. Make sure your topic helps you build your case. It can be about what you are raising money for or what is new or planned for your organization. I am working with a new organization that has set goals for the year, including how many families will be served and how many volunteers will be trained. That’s your theme. Your theme will be present in everything you say and do at your event!
- name it – Give your event a name that reflects its theme. This should be catchy, friendly, and engaging. In my example, the ED mentioned their goals and they were both 20-20 families served this year and 20 volunteers trained. The theme is: 20in12.
- mark it – once you have your name, you are ready to design a “logo”. Hopefully you have a professional designer to do this, if not look at a lot of good logos before you start. In the case of 20in12, we used attractive typography and colors that were part of the organizations palette. We added the motto: Count me in! This brand will be used in all your promotions, your website, tickets, etc.
- Create a to-do list – now to the heart of the matter. (Note: This detailed schedule could come first, but it’s good to start with the creative part to energize you and your team.) Use an Excel spreadsheet or equivalent and list, in categories, EVERY task you can think of for the event . Events go wrong when details are not attended to. List the category (invitations), list each related task, who is responsible, and its due date. You can’t be too detailed. Assign a project manager to keep this list up to date, make your contribution to the event a different task than being the chair of the event.
- meet regularly. At each meeting, review your list and check off items completed.
- Involve many people. As you move from one category to another, get more people involved. The more people who participate in the event, the better the results. When you arrive to schedule, bring a videographer, musician, etc. Include your designer where applicable. Recruit workers to prepare shipments.
- Do homework early. If there is something that can be done now, do it. There are too many tasks to be done at the last moment. All purchases, selections, agreements, decorations, etc. must be done well in advance. As long as you’re guided by your theme, your choices should be relatively easy.
- Pay attention to details. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re detail-oriented, move on, find a partner, do whatever it takes to make sure every iota is taken care of. There will be surprises, but when everything else is in order, you can handle the surprises. You can be a little weird about this (I am), worrying about colors, name tags, seats.
- deliver a message. There is time at each event to share your mission. Practice what you are going to say and deliver it eloquently. Don’t say too much, just what needs to be said. Use emotion when you speak, in testimonials and on video. Emotion is important, you want to capture people’s hearts.
- Have fun. Be so prepared, personally and professionally, that you can really enjoy it.
- Follow up. Communicate quickly with all the people you met for the first time, with your team to thank them, and with your guests in general. The more personal, the better. Listen! They will have something to say and you need to hear it.
Good luck. Events are wonderful, important, inspiring and rewarding. Make the most of yours.