Nonprofit organizations rely on these events to rally supporters and communities around a cause, as well as generate revenue that supports vital programs, services and initiatives. Businesses can use events to launch new products and services.
In Southwest Florida, the top fundraising events generate $1 million or more in a single day. That revenue allows nonprofits to carry out their mission and vision.
Priority Marketing has assembled the region’s premier Event Management Team, which has worked behind-the-scenes at thousands of successful fundraising events over the course of our 30-year history. The firm collaborates with clients to support their goals and objectives.
Priority Marketing’s event management services include venue selection, vendor coordination, décor, programming, catering, run of show, promotion, production and other elements. From groundbreakings and award ceremonies to black-tie galas and charity auctions, the experienced professionals at Priority Marketing know how to make any event shine!
Below are event management tips to transform your next fundraising event from blah to ahhh.
Event Management: 5 Tips for Success
To leave your guests thoroughly impressed, pay close attention to these five event management tips to plan successful and memorable events.
Tip 1: Set Your Budget, Goals and Objectives
Wanting to jump right into creative elements of event planning is natural. However, the event planning process should always start with establishing clear goals and objectives that fit within your budget.
These goals can include sales for a new product launch or fundraising targets for a new initiative. Goals also can include attendance at the event itself. An event is generally one of several strategies for reaching your goals, so consider the type of event and the audience in the early planning stages.
Define success. What does that mean for your organization?
From there, start developing a budget. Events can be successful at any budget. In the end, your return on investment will help measure success.
Tip 2: Establish a Theme
Choosing a theme is often the best part of event management. Let the creativity flow!
Selecting an event theme frames all planning exercises around a single, powerful message. This theme can create a sense of unity and cohesiveness that prevails through the entire event experience.
The best themes often are the result of brainstorming sessions with creative team members. Some ideas will be wild, captivating and energizing, but not necessarily right for your event. The final decision comes down to choosing a theme that will resonate most with your audience and support your event’s success.
Tip 3: Captivate Your Audience
How will you generate excitement and buzz among your potential audience? Capturing their interest is the first step toward success – you must convince them to buy tickets or RSVP.
For invitation-only events, Priority Marketing’s Event Management Team recommends teasing the event early with a “Save the Date.” Then, once the details are solidified, you can send a formal invitation. Although emailed invitations are cost effective, printed invitations have a “wow factor” that resonates with audiences.
For public events, consider these promotional strategies:
- Direct mail
- Social media
- News releases
- Calendar submissions
For invitation-only and public events, it’s important to incorporate your theme and a huge dose of creativity. All promotions should lead audiences to a customized event landing page. There, guests can learn more about the event and your cause, as well as register.
Don’t forget to carry that creativity to your event collateral. Printed programs, place cards and signage should match the theme.
Tip 4: Entertain and Engage Your Guests
Collecting RSVPs and registrations is a lot of work. However, planning the experience offers the most fun in the event management process. Every element of planning should cater to your audience’s tastes – venue, décor, food, entertainment and more. Focus on creating the kind of interactive moments that ensure guests have a wonderful time, engage in the moment, remember your message and want to come back for your next soiree.
Compelling videos, live entertainment, hands-on activities and fun surprises generate connections with audiences. That is what they will remember.
Tip 5: Plan Your Call to Action
An event is not just about the party. It’s about reaching your goals and objectives.
A successful event captures guests’ attention and has a strong call to action. What do you want them to do at the event’s end? This varies based on the organization hosting the event.
These call-to-action moments should be fun and meaningful for guests. If it’s a sales pitch, plan a product demo and offer fun, exclusive incentives to purchase. If it’s a call for donations, share a heartwarming testimonial before starting the auction or fund-a-need.
There are endless ways to engage and excite audiences as you deliver a strong call to action.
Bonus Event Management Tip: A Timeline
Event management starts long before the day of the event. Event planning often begins 12 months or more in advance. Following this event management timeline can help transform your next fundraising event from blah to ahhh.
8-12 months out: Hire a professional planner
Nonprofits focus on education, health care, human services, the environment and other causes. That is their area of expertise. It likely isn’t event management.
A good event management partner shares the nonprofit’s mission and vision, serving as an extension of the organization. Partnering with an event management firm like Priority Marketing allows nonprofits to focus on what they do best.
An event manager helps select a date that does not conflict with other major events, and a venue suitable for the size and scope of the event. Event managers also help negotiate contracts to maximize a nonprofit’s budget. This includes the venue, catering, entertainment, parking, décor, A/V support and other vendors.
6-8 months out: Audience development
Developing an invitation list for a signature event is a critical task in event management. Nonprofits should start by inviting anyone who attended prior fundraising events. Those individuals already have a connection to the organization, its mission and its staff or volunteers.
All donors and prospective donors should also be invited. Based on venue size, additional invitees can include business partners, elected officials, community leaders and social media influencers.
Event sponsors expect tickets to be part of their sponsorship package. Oftentimes, they purchase extra tickets for family members or colleagues.
4-6 months out: Build excitement
Event managers have a similar goal as party planners – they want guests to have a good time. Exciting events are successful, memorable events. That excitement and wow factor should start building long before the day of the event.
Southwest Florida has a limited number of event venues, which include hotel ballrooms, conference centers, tourist attractions and historic homes. The venue itself might not excite guests because they have already attended events there. However, your plans for the event can create anticipation. Use social media and email marketing to build excitement, teasing invitees with imagery and descriptions that will make them buy tickets.
2-4 months out: Confirm all vendors
It’s important to secure vendors as soon as possible. Rental companies, audio-visual providers, caterers and entertainers are booked months in advance.
As the event approaches, confirm details like specific food, music and décor choices. Doing so far in advance ensures that precious hours and attention during crunch time won’t be spent shoring up those details.
1-2 months out: Create the event program
Signature fundraising events often include a cocktail hour and dinner. Live and silent auctions are also commonplace. Beyond those staples, though, successful fundraising events must have a compelling storyline.
Pre-recorded video segments are popular because they can be scripted and filmed, showing audience members exactly what you want them to see and hear. This also gives time, even if it’s just five minutes, for organizers to regroup during the live event.
The event program should ensure these two items weigh heavily in the program:
- Mission focused: Tell the nonprofit’s story and showcase its successes. It’s important to not just tell the audience what you do, but also demonstrate that you are successful.
- Call to action: Decide what action you want attendees to take. It could be donating to the cause, signing up to volunteer or even sharing a post on social media.
Every year, there are hundreds of events in Southwest Florida. How will your event shine? The most successful events are well-planned with meticulous attention to detail.
Do you need a professional event planner to take your next event from blah to ahhh? Please give our marketing experts a call today at 239-267-2638 or send an email to LetsTalk@PriorityMarketing.com.
READ MORE: 7 tips for successful event management