Do you enjoy putting on your organization’s events?
Better yet, do you think your guests like to attend them?
Why don’t you focus a bit on the “experience” your guests are having.
Because if they are enjoying themselves, wonderful things might happen for your cause.
If your guests are NOT enjoying themselves, you just might not see them again.
Then where would you be?
So let’s take a look at common mistakes that happen to lots of nonprofit events – hopefully not YOUR event, right?
1. What’s the Point You Want to Make?
Hopefully, to raise money – and also raise energy, renewed commitment and motivation to do your work. Right?
So set your own very clear goals and objectives for your event:
Fire-up your crowd! Rally the troops. Have some fun. Be entertaining. Touch some hearts. Break some hearts, even.
Then if you define these goals, then you can design it to accomplish your desired results.
Without clear objectives, you will probably waste a great opportunity and maybe people’s time.
2. A Dull Endless Program.
The program is wildly important.
That’s when you have your guests’ attention and you can either drive them crazy with boredom or you can inspire them.
You must, I repeat must, set a firm schedule, create an interesting experience and by all means, take charge of your speakers.
3. Uncontrollable Speakers.
Everyone’s had the experience of the speaker who would not shut up. Yikes!
I like to use an emcee to be in charge of the program. I authorize them to walk out and nicely cut speakers off when they go over time.
But one time, the emcee – a local TV personality – decided to give HER OWN lengthy speech –without any notice. OMG. We were groaning in the back.
If you honor someone, be careful. They may expect to talk at length!
One honoree came to the podium for a 2-minute speech, and pulled out three entire handwritten pages. The staff and I looked at each other and went “Oh NO!”
4. How to Brief Your Speakers Correctly.
My strategy for controlling the program?
I get right in EACH speaker’s face. Right up in front of them. I smile sweetly. And I say with a big smile: “cheerful and brief! Got it?”
And they nod. And I repeat. And every time I see them during the evening, I say with a big smile “cheerful and brief!”
So what do they do when they get to the podium? They are usually cheerful and brief. Hurray!
5. Too Large of a Venue.
Last weekend I attended a huge gala – and unfortunately it was in a vast convention hall (with an awful concrete floor).
The crowd did not fill up the room, and it felt half empty.
If you have a room that is too big, you dissipate any energy of the crowd.
Building energy should be a #1 goal of your event.
I’d far rather have too many people crowded into a smaller room than too few people to fill up my large room.
Your strategy? Take a risk with a smaller venue and it will feel like the best party in town!
6. An Event That Goes On Too Late
When you go on too late, what happens? Your guests get tired.
The next day all they remember is how tired they were and how badly they wanted to leave.
You are shooting yourself in the foot. Unhappy guests will not come back.
Once I attended the auction of a wonderful community organization. Somehow the time slipped away. When they finally started the live auction, more than half the crowd was gone.
There went the evening’s profit – out the door.
Your Strategy: End the program by 9:30 at the latest. You will probably see people leaving starting at 9 unless they are having a wonderful time.
7. Unpopular Food Choices.
If you want to serve roast beef be sure to offer a choice of something else.
I was at an event recently with a friend who did not eat red meat. She was stuck and she was NOT happy!
Your strategy? Offer healthy when possible – and choices!
8. Memorials That Turn Into Downers.
Sometimes at events, we have memorials to honor people close to the organization.
Be careful. Don’t let them turn into sad times that take everyone down.
Be sure to plan something rousing to get everybody happy again.
Your strategy? Turn the memorial into a clear rallying cry: “Let’s honor their memory by going out and renewing our commitment!”
9. No Call To Action.
EVERY program needs to end with a totally clear call to action.
Not a general one.
Your strategy? Say something like this: ”We want every single person in this room to go out and do these three things NOW!”
10. Cash Bar at A Plated Dinner.
I am usually fine with cash bars – these are fundraising events anyway.
But what about this: you pay $100, sit down at a white tablecloth with a pretty centerpiece, and get served by waiters.
But you have to get up out of your seat, and schlep across the room to buy a $7 glass of wine.
It’s just awkward. And it negates the classiness of the lovely table and the elegant waiter.
Your strategy: Don’t do it.
Consider your event from your guests’ point of view.
Be a gracious host.
Make it fun for them and they will COME BACK! : )
What are YOUR biggest pet peeves with fundraising events?
I bet YOU have some stories to share too! Leave me a comment and tell me about this!