Maybe you have a passion for helping with the clean water crisis or you would like to make an impact in Haiti by purchasing uniforms for orphans to be able to attend school. No matter what your passion, I can help you organize a successful event that will make lasting impact with the dollars you raise. Let me tell you how.
In my day job, I am an event planner organizing on average seven events per week ranging from 20 guests to several thousand. I’ve hosted everything from corporate dinners, weddings, parties, expos, and even 10K races! All the details and day of execution can be a little bit overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help your event run smoothly and be successful.
1) Define the purpose of your fundraising event
Start by thinking about something you enjoy doing. Maybe you love wine so a cocktail party would be appropriate. Or maybe you are someone that just loves food and great music so a dinner party would make sense. All of us have a birthday, and that special day can easily be turned into a successful fundraising event. But whatever you choose have a clear purpose for the event. Ask yourself these questions.
- What are my fundraising goals?
- Who will attend?
- What’s the date and location?
- What’s my budget?
2) Select the right venue for your audience
The location you select for your event sets the tone for the entire experience. Think about all the details that are important to your guests. Make sure those are provided at your venue. A few quick things to consider are tables & chairs, kitchen supplies, and AV or technical equipment. Do they provide decorations and centerpieces or can you bring your own? And of course, parking and maximum capacity are important factors to take into account. It’s easy to spend the majority of your budget on these details if you don’t plan ahead. Try to get as much included from the venue as possible. Never Settle is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit so it’s worth asking for discounts on rental costs.
If you really want to impress guests, you are going to need to create the appropriate atmosphere that fits the audience and venue. A living room is an appropriate venue for small groups of close friends and family. But you will probably need a larger space if you are looking to invite dozens of people. Think about what you want the event to look and feel like:
- What kind of an atmosphere do you want to portray?
- What decor best fits the occasion?
- What types of lighting does your venue offer?
- What is your color palette?
3) Decide if you want to cater the fundraising event
What food is appropriate for your event? Will you serve appetizers, snacks, sit down dinner, cookout, buffet? Does your venue allow outside caterers or do they provide that service? Here’s where you get creative. Food is a social experience and the more creative you are with it, the more fun your guests will have. Try making cookies with your logo on it, or offer a hot chocolate bar full of marshmallows, whip cream, chocolate shavings & more. Chocolate fountains are always a hit and 3 small bite size desserts after a sit down meal is more fun than just a piece of cake delivered to your table.
4) Keep your guests entertained and engaged
An event isn’t an event without entertainment of some kind. Maybe its a casual backyard cookout so the entertainment is catching up with old friends. If it’s a sit down dinner will you have a speaker? A live band? A comedian? Maybe its a staff party and a powerpoint slideshow of candid pictures is the way to go! No matter how simple or elaborate you choose, you can’t forget this important step. Without a plan for the evening the event will fall flat once the food is served.
5) Don’t forget to send invitations
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend planning your event with great decor, awesome food, and a creative venue if no one comes. This is where many people lose the battle. Before you ever start one detail of planning you should name your event, select a date, and start getting the word out. You can followup with details once the venue, food and other arrangements are made. Create a Never Settle online fundraising page letting people know your purpose and your fundraising goal. Share the page with your network using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or good old-fashioned email. Send out save the date and email reminders as the event approaches. The more passionate you are about your cause the more your family and friends will jump in to support you.
Most of all, just have fun! Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you don’t enjoy the event! All of your work will pay off event day but don’t ever forget the most important part of the event is the people that come. They took time out of their busy schedules because they wanted to support you. They are invested in you and they believe in what you are doing. Anything that doesn’t go right during the evening, can’t take the place of that!
–Mindy Pittman, Team Never Settle, Event Planner & Hospitality Specialist