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5 More Challenges Involved with Planning a Major Fundraising Event

Nonprofit events have long served as a trusted method to drive fundraising goals, spread awareness, and actively engage constituents and donors. The truth is that as successful as an event can be, a lot can go wrong before you know what hit you.

Without anticipating each possible issue, there’s a chance you’ll create a negative experience for attendees—or worse, your costs spiral out of control.

If you are in the process of planning your next event, we’re here to help! Some time ago, we put together a great resource that talked about a few of the challenges nonprofits run into with event planning. If you haven’t read it, we highly recommend you go back and check out that post.

In a follow-up to that first blog post, here’s a look at five other event challenges you may run into that you can plan for accordingly.

1. Unexpected Rising Costs

Despite budgetary issues being on the minds of event planners, it is all too easy to get sucked in the black hole of failing to put together an appropriate and realistic budget. While previous years’ spending can offer relative benchmarks, referring to historical spending is not a healthy or effective budget planning strategy.

Working with a small or limited budget is not impossible, but it will require more thorough pricing research and problem-solving to make it work.

Crafting a realistic budget is key, but you have to stick to it. Having said that, consider building a cushion into your budget. What you want to spend and the maximum amount you’re allowed to spend can be completely different, so get those numbers defined before sourcing vendors and venues.

When calling vendors, try to source a multitude of quotes and possibilities. Be honest with vendors in the very beginning, but always get your quotes in writing to make sure they will follow through on their promises.

2. Technology Problems

Technology is great, but always keep Murphy’s Law lurking in the back of your mind when leveraging tech for your event. If something can go wrong, it will.

Some common tech failures that happen at events include video playback, WiFi connectivity, social media trolls, and event registration. You may want to handle all of the above in your own way, but at least know that these are very real possibilities.

Knowing that something can happen is half the battle, so have a game plan for any issues that may arise with any technology your event may come to rely upon.

3. Managing Multiple Events Simultaneously

One event can be complicated all on its own, but planning for multiple events at the same time only compounds the headache involved. Many nonprofits have numerous events throughout the year, and the scale of each can differ drastically.

If you’re challenged with planning multiple events simultaneously for your organization, compartmentalization is your best friend. Keep events as separate as you can handle, favoring more urgent or high priority event task work over the other(s). In fact, you may want to think about assigning different team members to different events if that helps keeps things organized.

Another thing to consider is enlisting the help of an event management software. From managing guests to cataloging vendors, venues, and costs, there are many solutions out there that can be a tremendous help when you’re drowning in event planning work.

4. Uncooperative Weather

This may come as quite an obvious issue, but you’d be surprised at how often event planners can neglect this kind of detail. Whether it happens in a few seconds, or it slowly creates unpleasant conditions over several hours, bad weather can become a huge pain and turn your event upside-down.

Excluding massive weather events such as blizzards or hurricanes, uncooperative weather can be mitigated with some light planning and a few choice supplies.

A little homework to give yourself could involve studying weather patterns in the days leading up to the event, as well as studying previous years’ weather data to see if you notice any trends. After that, think about all of the locations involved in your event and whether or not the weather has any potential to put a damper on the festivities.

5. Crafting a Memorable Experience

An event isn’t just about fundraising; it’s also about creating a lasting impression on attendees and donors. In some ways, the overall experience is going to be one of the highest priority considerations and impacts the overall value of hosting an event in the first place.

Here are three things to keep in mind to make your event more memorable:

  1. Adding a human touch: At every opportunity, remember to make your attendees feel appreciated for their involvement. For donors who give large gifts, figure out how to publicly acknowledge these individuals, as well as reaching out to them after the event to thank them again.
  2. Capitalizing on storytelling: Nonprofits all have an important story to tell, and your event is another time to engage in impactful storytelling. Outside of entertaining guests and motivating them to take action, try to figure out how your event feeds into your organization’s broader storytelling strategy.
  3. Leveraging strengths: Not every nonprofit wants to host a massive walk or lavish gala dinner. Just because these events work for some organizations does not mean yours has to take a similar path. Analyze what your organization does well, and leverage insights that will help create an experience which resonates strongly with your constituents.

Final Thoughts

Hosting an event for your nonprofit doesn’t have to be an intimidating or harrowing experience. Preparation is the key to your success, so just take the time you need to think things out and anticipate every single detail.

From anticipating potential problems to crafting an experience that donors will remember for years, launching a successful event is possible with any size budget. Event planning is no walk in the park, but thorough homework ahead of time will go a long way to engaging donors and increasing fundraising revenue.

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