Events are a great way to promote awareness of your cause and unite like-minded individuals (and organisations) who share your passion for fundraising. But hosting a successful charity function takes passion, teamwork and (more often than not) a truckload of planning. Here are eight important steps to get you fully-prepped for your next big event.
Step 1. Set clear and measurable goals
First, decide what you need your event to achieve. Do you want to raise awareness? Funds? Both? Once you’ve established this, it’s time to set some simple yet measurable goals. These might include setting a target figure for fundraising or the number of attendees you hope to attract or stating an aim to leverage partnerships with other organisations.
You might also find it useful to research similar events to identify other processes, goals or strategies that you could adopt for your own event.
Step 2. Get a fix on your audience
The theme, format and content of your event will be heavily influenced by the audience you hope to attract. And while some might argue that casting a wider net will catch more fish, trying to appeal to everyone isn’t always the smartest move.
Looking at key demographics like age and gender is important, but you can also tailor events to specific professions, organisations and interests to help you find your event’s sweet spot. For example, if you’re hoping to attract corporates, an event that has a strong team element or encourages the purchase of table packages might be the best approach. Alternatively, if you want to target individual supporters or sell tickets to the general public, an event that facilitates individual participation, with a relatively low initial cost outlay, might be the best approach.
Step 3. Lock in your budget
Holding an event can be an expensive exercise and establishing a budget will help keep costs in perspective – especially if you’re working with a team. Be sure to reserve funds as a contingency plan and keep a watchful eye on your spending.
Depending on your event format, one way to keep your costs low is to host a virtual event. Unlike traditional events which take place on a specific date in a specific location, virtual events allow supporters to participate from wherever they are, whenever it suits. Not only do they dispense with the need to invest in on-the-ground resources, logistics and expensive venue hire, virtual events alleviate the admin headache that often comes with event management and give you much greater creative license.
Whether or not a virtual event is right for you depends on the type of event you want to hold – physical challenge style events (such as a run or team activity) are ideal. To find our whether a virtual event is right for your charity, read our previous blog post Key Insights to help Maximise Virtual Events
Step 4. Set a date
How far ahead you need to plan really depends on the scale of your event and what you want to achieve. Larger scale events need anywhere from three to six months to properly plan and promote, and you’ll also need to be well ahead of the game to secure your preferred venue.
Before you pick a date, always do your homework: make sure it doesn’t clash with any other major events that could cannibalise your audience and lead to a low turnout.
Step 5. Create an actionable timeline
Like your attendees and guests, you’ll want to enjoy the event. To avoid frantically running around and trying to solve problems on the big day, you’ll need to be systematic in your planning phase.
Once your event date is locked in, work backwards through your timeline and identify what tasks need to be completed when and give each a realistic deadline. If you’re working with a team, schedule regular check-ins to track progress. If your actionable timeline is thorough and detailed, you’ll reduce the risk of crippling last-minute curve balls.
Step 6. Explore sponsorship opportunities
There are plenty of businesses out there looking to support charities that match their vision and mission. Ask yourself if there are any ways you can offset the cost of holding your event by offering sponsorship opportunities to relevant organisations or partners?
Monetary sponsorship often comes with terms and conditions such as advertising rights, so be sure to have an idea of what you’re willing and able to offer in return. You can even explore ‘in kind’ sponsorships and ask businesses to donate tangible items such as catering, venue hire, prizing and supplies.
Step 7. Spread the word!
One of the most critical elements of event planning is working out how you’ll get bums on seats. From paid advertising and PR through to pushing your event through your social networks and owned digital channels, how you market your event will play a pivotal role in its success. Develop a phased marketing strategy well in advance and plan it around key milestones in your event lead-up – such as your event announcement, setting a date and ticket releases.
Wherever you can, use the power of storytelling – particularly the stories of people who have been positively affected by the work your organisation does – to encourage people to feel a more powerful connection to your cause and inspire them to attend.
Step 8. Take a few short cuts
Unless you’re one of the lucky few, most charity event planners are working to tight budgets and with small teams. But there are plenty of ways to streamline your event marketing efforts and drive more event signups with minimal cash and resources. Check out Everydayhero’s Signature Event Services to learn how the team can streamline your event.
For more advice on how to run an awesome charity event, get in touch with the Everydayhero team.