Guest post by Jonathon Leeke, Product Manager at Blackbaud.
Every event planner’s dream is to create a magical experience for attendees, to raise ample funds for your organization, and to instill in others the same passion for your mission that you have.
However, this is a tall order and not always easy to pull off. You must stick to your strengths and stay within your limits to reward your supporters with an engaging and memorable event that will do more than just offset the budget!
Here are 4 the four ingredients to pulling off a successful and memorable event:
Size and scope
A large gala is appealing to cover all your bases, and it’s a safe bet. You can find a menu, entertainment, and giving opportunities that will appeal to a wide audience.
But the economies of scale don’t always hold true when putting together a large event.
Moreover, donors can feel disenfranchised or less needed in the midst of a crowd of other potential supporters. Focusing smaller events on segments of your donor base can heighten their sense of importance and lead not only to more contributions but to a stronger bond with your organization.
The scale of a gala can be appealing to sponsors, but if you can also focus on this audience with a targeted event, they too could see a better return on the investment.
Appeal to Human Behavior
There’s something about hearing your own name that makes a person feel good, which is why a good leader will never call you “hey man”!
Have you found a way to publicly recognize the important donors or staff at your organization? Giving awards not only gets a recipient to attend your event, but likely a few of their friends as well.Some philanthropists enjoy the rush of making a large, public, spot donation. Do you have an outlet for them, maybe a live auction? Others like to know that they’ve given more than the minimum, that they have made a small sacrifice for a good cause. Are you appealing to them with special giving opportunities?
Regardless of the size of your event, think beyond the giving card and get creative with your ask.
Tell a Story
I like a good variety show. It’s entertaining, which is admittedly part of the draw for a special event.
But if an attendee walks away and just thinks they’ve had a “good time”, you’ve missed an opportunity.
Think about the story you’re trying to tell. What is your message, the point you want to make? Now, how does every part of your event support the story? If you have a presentation with bullets of the things you’ve accomplished this year or how much you’ve raised, scrap it. Cast your vision. Have your beneficiaries share their experiences and how they’ve been impacted by your mission. Weave your message into the experience.
Attendees should leave knowing what you’re about and how they can help you succeed.
Use Your Strengths
Not every organization has access to a deal on the grand ballroom, elite sponsors, celebrity speakers, or big budgets.
Think about what you have that you can leverage for your next event.
Maybe it’s a charismatic CEO that can work the room, a major donor that loves to throw dinner parties, a volunteer who owns a trendy restaurant, or a young base of members who loves a good social. Whatever is unique about your organization is probably what interests your supporters. Use it to your advantage.
If you’re experienced, you already know how to market an event with social media, put together a stellar invitation, have a seamless registration process, identify what donors need to be there and where they should sit, and to create an ambiance that will “wow” them. But keeping a focus on the individual and letting your character show through can be the real key to success.
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