tentEvents and nonprofits go together.  Most organizations have at least one major event a year.  Here I cover the full range – from preparing for a small event (even a meeting) to a grand one.  The basic steps are the same, the investment of time and money varies.  I do believe that every event deserves careful planning, a distinct purpose and some fun!

 Here are your 10 Steps to Great Events:

    1. Know the purpose. Why are you gathering?  The best way to answer that question is to decide what you want the outcome to be.  Do you want to share information?  Make new friends or honor old ones?  Raise $50,000?  Your event needs a specific goal so you can measure the results.  Form a strong event team and make sure they are all committed to the goal.
    2. Make your guest list. This is a practical step since you will need to know how many people you are planning for.  It is also inspirational, when you make the guest list you are planning with special people in mind.  If you need Table Hosts for a fundraiser, make your wish list.      
    3. Pick your theme. I love themes!  They make everything easier, more fun and focused.  Your Theme may be year-long, like the one you choose in Your Million Dollar Story.  Or it could be as simple as picking colors and a special venue.  Themes inspire choices.  Next week I will post 10 Steps to Using Themes.
    4. Set the budget. Now that you have a goal, a guest list and a theme, you are able to set the budget.  How big of an investment are you willing to make to reach your goal?  Once you figure that out all the decisions will fall into place.
    5. Choose the venue. You know the type of place and size of room you need so take a look around.  Be creative, using an unexpected space or location shakes things up a bit.  This could be the largest budget item, especially if food is provided as part of the rental.
    6. Be prepared. Keep an extensive list of tasks and supplies – with each item assigned to a specific person!  You don’t want anything to slip through the cracks.  Set this up in Excel once and then expand and contract as needed for each event you do. 
    7. Give them something to take home. First, no more handouts than are absolutely necessary, most paper gets left behind for you to recycle.  Provide an agenda or the program so everyone knows what to expect.  If it is a public event, definetly give them something to take home.  Wrap it up like a gift if you want to be sure it makes it out of the building and into their home or office.
    8. Offer a high quality program. Always, always be sure you have the timing down pat.  Start and end on time.  Say what needs to be said and not more.  Leave them feeling emotionally inspired!   Check out 10 Steps to Your Winning Story.    
    9. Follow up. Seek out, listen to and record the feedback you get.  Have your team evaluate the event, in detail.  Use what you have learned for future events!
    10. Do it again. Decide how often you need to repeat this event and what other events might be added to your calendar.  Practice makes perfect!


Merle Benny is known as the Mentor of smart, bold Nonprofit Leaders, ready to change the world. She is a founder of Nonprofit Champion, a company committed to the growth and empowerment of nonprofit leaders around the globe by sharing high-level thoughtful branding and growth strategies – while supporting their work and values to create sustainable success.

After 20 years in a successful corporate career developing technology companies, Merle followed her passion and turned her talents to the nonprofits she loved.  Joining years of nonprofit board leadership with marketing expertise, business savvy with a philanthropic heart, Merle empowers highly successful nonprofit leaders.