🚀 The Event Playbook: Proven strategies to level up your next event!

🚀 The Event Playbook:
Proven strategies to level up your next event!

non-profit event planning

Event Planning for Non-Profits: An Essential Guide

How can you host a successful event in 2023? For nonprofits, networking, and fundraising events bring donations and raise awareness for their cause. Many events can raise funds, whether it’s a charity run, a gala dinner, or a virtual auction. Planning an event requires careful consideration and preparation. So how can you design an incredible event this year?

This essential guide covers everything from setting objectives and budgeting to marketing the event and evaluating its success afterward. 

With this comprehensive guide, nonprofits will have the tools they need to plan a successful event that meets their goals. Follow these steps, and all of your hard work will pay off in the form of increased donations and greater awareness for your important cause.

Set Goals for Your Event

Nonprofit event planning can be highly rewarding, fostering community engagement and fundraising. Start by setting clear goals, identifying your target audience, and creating a budget.

Collaborate with volunteers, secure sponsorships, and promote the event effectively to ensure success. Setting goals helps you focus on what you want to achieve and provides a benchmark for measuring success.

Setting goals helps you focus on what you want to achieve and provides a benchmark for measuring success in your fundraising initiatives. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

When setting your goals, consider the event’s purpose and what cause your nonprofit organization is promoting. 

For example, if you are hosting a hybrid fundraising event, your goal may be to raise \$150,000 to sponsor entrepreneurs in green energy. If it’s a virtual networking event, your goal may be to connect abolition activists across North America to align movement goals.

As an event planner, it is essential to prioritize planning, budgeting, and event logistics. 

Once you identify key objectives for your nonprofit event, ensure they are included in your event management checklist so that everyone involved in planning, from the coordinators to the volunteer team, can reference them. 

Utilizing event planning software can streamline the process and help manage various aspects of the event, such as volunteer coordination and budgeting.

Having clear objectives helps assess how successful your event was once it’s over. Nonprofit event planners should measure whether or not they achieved each goal and use this information to improve future events. 

a man and a woman looking at a tablet with their event plans laid out

Regularly evaluating your nonprofit events’ success will allow your organization to make informed decisions on where to focus resources and how to better engage with your target audience.

Incorporating corporate partnerships or charity services into your event plan can help bolster your fundraising efforts and reach new audiences. 

For those seeking to become more proficient in event planning, there are numerous blogs, guides, and resources available that outline the necessary steps for successful nonprofit event management. 

 By establishing a strong event management foundation, organizations can create a more significant impact, set and achieve ambitious goals, and ultimately further their mission.

Create a Realistic Event Budget

Creating a budget for your event is an essential step in the planning process, and a crucial aspect of event management. 

Whether you are a nonprofit organization hosting a charity event, a corporate team planning a fundraiser, or an event planner coordinating a variety of events, a comprehensive budget is key to ensuring successful event logistics and management. 

The budget constantly evolves as new details emerge and plans are refined.

Setting up your budget in a spreadsheet allows you to track expenses and details systematically, ultimately avoiding worst-case scenarios like losing money due to higher production costs, overspending on catering or swag bags, or mismanaging fundraising initiatives. 

In addition, utilizing budgeting software can help streamline the process and make it easier for event coordinators and planners to stay on track with their financial goals.

Incorporating fundraising initiatives and volunteer coordination into your event planning is a valuable way to cut costs and involve community members, especially for nonprofits. 

Establishing a dedicated event logistics team can help in the management of tasks and streamline the planning process. 

As a planner or coordinator, it is essential to keep your budget spreadsheet detailed and up-to-date, so you can make informed decisions on how to allocate resources, manage your team, and deliver a successful event. 

By following these steps and utilizing the appropriate tools and resources, you can create a comprehensive plan that ensures your event is both financially responsible and successful.

What is Your Event Goal?

a hand holding a dart over a bullseye

Clearly define your event goal at the outset. Determine what the funds raised will be used for, whether it is an internal need such as updating facilities or buying equipment or an external need associated with a project or local cause. 

Communicate this information to supporters so they will get excited about the event. Be as specific as possible. The more specific your financial goals, the more tangible it is to your donors.

In addition to raising money, you might have other visions for the event. For example, use it to recognize and thank volunteers and donors for their hard work and dedication. 

Build relationships with them and create a sense of community around your event. Bring awareness to your cause and unite activists and donors worldwide, especially during virtual and hybrid events.

Line Up Sponsors for Your Event

Sponsorships provide financial support as well as promotional opportunities for both parties involved. When looking for sponsors, it’s important to research potential partners and make sure they align with your mission and values.

Once you’ve identified potential sponsors, reach out and explain why their support would be beneficial for both parties. Outline what kind of promotion they will receive in exchange for their sponsorship and how it will benefit them as well as your organization or cause.

Sponsors can help in a variety of ways:

  • Donate funds directly to the cause
  • Provide funds for production needs
  • Supply equipment rentals
  • Provide a venue
  • Promise a matching grant
  • Market your event
  • Give you access to clients
  • Cater the event
  • a woman speaking into a microphone during an event

    Finding partners that believe in your cause and want to help reach your event goals will help ease the financial and logistical burden while building a brand new working relationship for years to come.

    Choose the Right Event Production Team

    It’s essential to foster a collaborative environment among your team members, sponsors, and other stakeholders involved in the event planning process. Encourage open communication and provide opportunities for brainstorming and problem-solving together. 

    A unified and cooperative team can create a more successful event, as they’ll be able to pool resources, share ideas, and tap into each other’s expertise. By nurturing a strong sense of teamwork, you’ll be better equipped to overcome challenges and create an unforgettable event experience for all attendees.

    Assemble your team 4 to 6 months before your event date so that there is plenty of time to plan and execute the event. 

    Hire a seasoned team of professionals with the flexibility and technical skills to run a smooth and engaging event experience. They will guide all aspects of the event, from budgeting and logistics to marketing and livestreaming. 

    Whether you host an in-person event or a hybrid fundraiser, your event production team needs to understand all the logistical and technical needs to pull off a successful event.

    a man with headphones standing in front of a sound board

    Your planning team should include individuals with expertise in various areas like marketing, advertising, virtual event production, entertainment, logistics, and livestreaming. 

    Having an organized and efficient team guarantees all tasks are completed on time and within budget. With the right people on board, your event will be an impactful success!

    Communicate with Your Production Team

    Keeping your team informed is key to success. Host regular meetings to stay on track. Set specific tasks for each event production team member. 

    During these meetings, share news and event details with the event staff and ask for updates on their tasks. Identify sticking points early and check that everyone is on the same page.

    Two weeks before the event, create a guide for each participant with all the necessary details. The manual should have the location map, parking space info, livestreaming logins and guidance, vendor contact details, VIP visitors’ names, and other logistics information. 

    The manual has all the necessary details in one place for easy reference and keeps your team informed.

    Design Your Non-Profit Event

    When planning an event for a non-profit organization, several key elements need to be considered. From the venue and catering to livestreaming and decorations, each detail should be carefully planned to ensure a successful event.

    Who is Your Ideal Event Attendee?

    someone is writing on a notepad with a notepad and a pen

    Always identify your ideal audience. Knowing who you are targeting helps you create an event tailored to their interests and needs. 

    Your ideal audience should be those most likely to support your cause, partner with you, and contribute financially. This could include current donors, potential donors, other non-profits, activist organizations, or even people who may not have heard of your organization yet.

    When selecting your ideal audience, consider the characteristics of the group you want to reach. Consider age range, location, gender identity, socio-economic status, and other relevant factors. 

    Your ideal attendee may not be who you originally intended. Let data guide you. Use data from past events or surveys to understand better who would be most likely to attend and donate. 

    Once you have identified your target demographic, tailor the details to maximize attendance, audience engagement, and donations.

    Choosing the Right Venue for Your Event

    a crowd of people are gathered in a dark room with spotlights on

    The venue is the most important facet of your upcoming event. Decide on a location that accommodates all your in-person guests comfortably and provides enough space for activities, entertainment, catering, and decorations. 

    Consider parking, accessibility, cost, and availability when selecting a venue. Try to make attending the venue easy for out-of-town guests or virtual attendees.

    Virtual Fundraising

    When choosing the right virtual fundraising platform, you need to consider several factors like accessibility, cost, multi-streaming capabilities, and other issues like accessibility and multilingual captions. 

    Test out the platform before your fundraiser to ensure that it works properly. Work with your production staff and online teams before the event to check all the technical issues that might arise. You want to reach and exceed your fundraising goal.

    a photo of people sitting in chairs while corresponding with a guest speaker over a projected screen

    If you are planning a hybrid event, consider the logistics of having both in-person and virtual attendees. 

    Plan how to manage both groups with your speakers and virtual emcee so everyone has an enjoyable experience. Consider livestreaming your event or providing a recording afterward so virtual attendees can watch easily if they miss any sessions.

    You want an online platform that offers more than a simple Zoom talking head video. Look for platforms that offer interactive features like polls, Q&As, and live chat. 

    Your production team needs to have considerable experience running hybrid and virtual events so you can have an exciting, engaging experience.

    Set the Date

    To determine the best date for your event, consider which dates work best for those who must be present. For example, if you are hosting a virtual award ceremony, consult with the award recipient to confirm they are available on that day. 

    Additionally, if you have a team or board members who need to be physically present at the event, check availability or offer virtual options.

    Always confirm the date and venue in advance. If your region is prone to inclement weather or hurricanes, choose a date less likely to be interrupted by bad weather. 

    You may want to have Covid-precautions in place to protect guests and speakers and have virtual options as a backup. Give guests enough time to save the date and make arrangements to attend in person or virtually.

    Select a Creative Theme That Will Engage and Inspire!

    a room with a large boombox and graffiti on the wall.

    Be original with your event theme. Your theme will determine what kind of decorations you should use, the type of entertainment, which speakers to choose from, and how the food should be served. Some creative ideas might include:

  • Fun scavenger hunt
  • Virtual Red Carpet fundraiser
  • Las Vegas theme hybrid casino fundraiser
  • Live comedy hybrid event
  • A hybrid wellness event
  • Gothic-themed Gala Dinner
  • Outdoor sports-themed event
  • Mixology hybrid event
  • Live music festival to sponsor inner city music programs
  • Virtual Art-A-Thon to support diversity
  • Hybrid crowdfunding pet event for animal shelters
  • Additionally, consider any special requests from sponsors or donors who may have specific requirements for their involvement in the event. 

    Finally, plan out necessary supplies such as tables, chairs, livestreaming platforms, and audio-visual equipment so everything runs smoothly on the event day.

    Market Your Upcoming Non-Profit Event

    Your website should be the most direct way to reach potential attendees. Posting the event details and registration link on your website makes it easy for people to sign up. 

    Combine online and traditional marketing like posters at community centers and local radio spots.

    Depending on your target audience, different platforms may be more effective than others. Everyone can see Facebook events. You can target Facebook ads to specific industries and demographics. 

    Twitter can help you find influencers in your industry, and LinkedIn helps you link up with professionals. Utilizing these platforms assists you in reaching a wider audience and increasing attendance at your event. 

    You might want to try other platforms like TikTok or Instagram, depending on your target audience.

    Make Registration as Easy as One Click

    Creating a registration link keeps track of the number of attendees and saves you from receiving a flood of RSVP emails. 

    If you have a Springly account, use the Events feature, which was designed specifically for nonprofit events. Other popular options include Eventbrite and Weezevent.

    Use an eye-catching photo or image for the event banner. Draw potential attendees’ attention and encourage them to register for your event. 

    Provide clear instructions on how to register location, date, and time. Test out your registration link on various browsers and devices to troubleshoot technical errors.

    Send Out Special VIP Invites to Your Non-Profit Event

    a VIP event ticket with a logo on it.

    Show extra care for special guests. This includes partnering with nonprofits, foundations, board members, and donors. 

    Send personalized messages instead of a generic group e-mail. Make them feel valued. Follow up with a phone call after sending the invitation to express your appreciation further.

    Inviting special guests early in the process spreads the word about your event. People are more likely to attend events if friends or family attend, so involving these invitees in the invitation process significantly increases attendance. 

    Showing extra care for special guests should not be overlooked.

    Set Up Text-to-Give

    Text-to-give is an innovative and secure way to collect donations during events. It allows donors to donate in just minutes, no matter how much cash they have on hand. Donors don’t need to worry about carrying around cash or writing checks.

    All they need is their phone. Also, include a simple donate link on the website or event app for donations. Check the technical end of any in-person or virtual auctions so the fundraising goes without a hitch.

    Don't Forget to Follow-Up Post-Event!

    Thanking those who have contributed to the success of your event. Whether it’s volunteers, vendors, entertainers, donors, or attendees, showing your appreciation for their support builds relationships and encourages them to contribute to your mission in the future. Send thank-you messages and follow-up surveys as soon as possible after the event wraps up.

    Following this simple process guarantees you’ll have a fantastic event. Struggling to organize your upcoming fundraiser or networking event? Reach out to We & Goliath’s remarkable team for a free strategy consultation. Our award-winning production crew will make your event an impactful success!

    We & Goliath

    We & Goliath is an award-winning, top 100 worldwide event agency known for increasing conference attendance by 7X and profits by 3X through beautifully designed virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Since 1999, their team of innovative strategists and creative designers has worked with global enterprises, SMBs, non-profits, and other organizations to engage audiences and exceed expectations.

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