Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid While Nonprofit Event Planning

March 13, 2019 - 6 minutes read

Nobody sets out to plan a lousy event. Every event planner puts in his best to create the best event possible.

Unfortunately, it does not always pan out. Some events fail and fail so spectacularly, that instead of generating funds and cultivating donors, it does the exact opposite! Not only will you lose precious resources, but it will take quite a bit of creative PR to recover from the fiasco.

So, how can you avoid it? How can you ensure that event you are planning for the Non Profit is a success?

Well, there is no magic formula. But, there are certain mistakes you can avoid during nonprofit event planning that will increase your chances of success.

In this article, I am focussing on the top 5 mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.

No contingency plan

When it comes to event planning, unwanted situations are inevitable. And it’s up to the event planning team to minimize their impact before it’s apparent to the attendees.

So, you need to decide if your event will go on whether rain or snow and have a back up accordingly. If you have a backup date, let your attendees know it from the start.

For example, if you see thunderstorms in the forecast a week before your event, send a text message to your attendees notifying them that you’ll be shifting your event.

Pro tip: Tap into your inner pessimist and see what can go wrong and have a contingency plan in place.

Haven’t considered donor stewardship

Nonprofit events are multifaceted and fundraising is only one part of its purpose. The event itself gives you an opportunity to speak face-to-face with donors, especially in a fun and relaxed environment. You must use it to build stronger relationships with your donors.

What you can do is assign volunteers or staff members to specific donors who will be attending your event. Doing so, makes donors feel valued as you’ve taken the time to know them and greet them. You should prioritize major donors. For example, have your board members greet and interact with them.

Pro tip: Use donor-centric language and do not talk about what your nonprofit does. Rather, talk about what the donor can do, and how their contributions have helped your cause.

No transparency in fundraising goals

When you’re transparent with your fundraising goals, it helps you achieve two things. 1) Building trust with your donors and 2) getting them to take a particular action. For example, signing a petition or attending a rally.

So, tell your event attendees the specific amount you’re trying to raise through the event. Better yet –– tell them in advance. You can do this by giving them a clear call to action that helps them understand their role in your organization.

Solidify your goals by integrating peer-to-peer fundraising into your event.

Pro tip: Use fundraising thermometers to encourage your attendees to help you reach your goals. This acts as a visual marker to show donors how much money still needs to be raised.

No post-event engagement plan in place

One of the biggest mistakes event planners make is not having a concrete post-event engagement plan in place. Or if they do, they don’t implement it right away.

For example, reminding attendees of the good vibes they created at your event with a simple “‘It was great having you at our event” text is a great way to kick-start your post-event engagement strategy.

However, in the case of major donors, a text is not enough. You should make phone calls to thank them personally for attending and contributing generously to your organization.

Pro tip: To boost post-event engagement send surveys, case studies, success stories, the impact created through contributions to all your donors.

No time-driven agenda

Without a time driven agenda your event runs too long and your attendees will be more focused on getting home than on your cause.

What you can do is create a positive experience by bringing around changes in three stages:

  • Registration: Make the check-in process easy by going mobile. Use a tool like Boomset which will make it really convenient for attendees to edit their schedules.
  • Event: You need to focus on keeping your attendees engaged if not they won’t show up at your next event. Also, if you want to get them from point A to Point B you’ll need a volunteer or staff member to direct them. You can easily achieve this by using a tool like CallHub. Simply send texts to your attendees reminding them of their seating or to keep them interested in your auction.
  • Ceremony: Create time slots for speakers at your event and inform them before the event. This way they won’t go off topic and bore your attendees.

Have you made any of the above nonprofit event planning mistakes? If yes, that alright. Everybody makes mistakes, but what you learn from them matters the most. The next time you plan an event, take note of these points.