During any given year, the following thought will enter the mind of a nonprofit executive: “We want to have an event.” The event planning will inevitably begin and, not too soon after that, another thought will cross the mind of this same executive: “Nobody told me this would be so hard!”
There is no question that along with big money, special events can bring big headaches. It’s easy enough to imagine how successful an event can be for your nonprofit. It’s a little bit harder to actually bring those thoughts to fruition.
Marika Holmgren, founder of Organic Events, writes in “Nonprofit Management 101” that one of the first steps to planning a successful special event is to set goals. If you can’t answer the simple question of “Why do we want to have an event?” then you probably shouldn’t have one.
Holmgren lays out some of the potential reasons to hold a special event:
- Raise money
- Honor key supporters
- Present award to those who exemplify our cause
- Raise your profile
- Thank key allies and supporters
- Generate press
- Have a community presence
These are all reasonable goals, but they can’t all be done at the same time. As you begin planning, identify the most important goals for your event, and then prioritize several that are most important. This will help lay the groundwork for a great event.