Ahh, fundraising events. Most nonprofit organizations put on at least one of these events per year, and many nonprofit professionals have a love-hate relationship with events. Although planning an event can be stressful, it does not have to be the anxiety-ridden, hair-pulling-out fiasco that you may be envisioning (or currently experiencing).
Knowing common mistakes that nonprofits make when planning events can help you avoid these pitfalls and have a smoother journey towards putting on your event.
Mistake #1: Starting the Planning Process Too Late
There is no place for procrastination in event planning. Air on the side of caution with this one and do not overestimate you and your team’s abilities. Many event planners begin the planning process a year in advance, or right after previous year’s event if it is an annual occurrence. Starting the planning too late will cause unnecessary stress on you and your event team, and it makes it more likely for issues to slip through the cracks later on. Set up your event calendar now and and do not stray from your timeline.
For a sample fundraising event timeline and checklist, click here.
Mistake #2: No Back-Up Plans
Something will go wrong. I hate to break it to you, but even the best professional event planners in the world acknowledge this fact: something during the event will probably not go as planned. During your planning process, anticipate what it would look like for certain aspects to go wrong and create a alternate plan. Knowing that you are ready for everything ahead of time will allow you to focus more on the event as it is happening and provide everyone involved some peace of mind.
Especially focus on software, delays, and other technology when examining and creating back-up plans. Event planners all know that Murphy’s law loves to live in event planning and management, and technology especially seems to like to act up at the worst possible moments. Be ready for it with a back up plan already in place!
Mistake #3: Cutting Costs and Losing Quality
Some things are absolutely worth spending more to get top quality. First on this list is sound and lighting. If there is anything you are going to pay top dollar for, make sure this is it. While you want your net profits to be high for the event, you also need to keep in mind that what donors give will be directly impacted by what they see and hear from your organization at this event and how good of an impression you make. Trying to keep expenditures low is important, but do not let penny pinching lead low quality products and services that will negatively impact your big day.
Mistake #4: Careless Budgeting and Cost Tracking
Most development professionals agree that the financial aspect tends to be their least favorite part of the event planning. While that is understandable (and common), unfortunately it is also one of the biggest factors that determine the success of an event. And, just as importantly, a careful budget is necessary to know the overall impact of your event. Your ability to report back to your supporters on the impact of the event is fully reliant on your careful cost tracking during the planning process.
The best way to ensure you are carefully budgeting and keeping track of costs for your event is to stay on top of it. Do not wait to enter costs and make sure that you give yourself enough leeway to keep up with your budget in real time.
What is the biggest mistake you have made when planning a fundraising event? Let us know here!