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The Special Events Season

The Special Events Season

I do not usually attend special events anymore. After 30+ years in the development world I have had my share of rubber chicken dinners, boring speakers, and programs that are too long.

But it is the season that special events are held in every community in the country. Why is this the best time for certain special events? I guess along with a time for generosity of money, it is a time for generosity of time to attend an event.

Most of these fall events are dinners, banquets, auctions and the like. Recently I had been asked to share the challenge, or ‘ask’, at two events. One was a wonderful event that came off very well; the other was probably the worst event I have been a part of.

Here is what I have learned through the years in planning a special event for success.

  1. What is the PURPOSE of the event? This takes a disciplined approach to determining an order of priorities. While most will say fundraising is the top priority, it may not always be true. Here are some options:
    • Fund raising
    • Awareness
    • Inspiration
    • Appreciation
  2. What are the expected OUTCOMES from the event? This is what you want to be the success factor for the event. It could be:
    • Total Income
    • Net Income
    • New Donors
    • Ownership
    • Upgrade gifts
    • Join monthly giving program
  3. Once you have your PURPOSE and OUTCOMES, all of the management of your event becomes clear. Who you invite, how you invite them, the program, the challenge/ask, and the follow up letters are all designed based on the PURPOSE and OUTCOMES desired.

This may only seem like a brief overview of a special event strategy, but it will give you a framework for success. If you do not plan a strategy that supports your purpose and gives you your expected outcome, then you have failed. It may be a well-attended event with much activity and funds raised, but if your goal was new donors and no one invited new donors, you have failed.

Till next time,

Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE, CSP