From large-scale galas to business breakfasts, special events are likely part of your fundraising and communications arsenal. Without a strategy, the management of endless details and well-intentioned great ideas can create a muddled, messy and not-so-special event.

    As you gather the team and begin the planning, make this your first step and number one priority: determine the message or feeling you want your audience to take away. When they leave, what will they remember?

    When you are able to clearly articulate this, every decision, detail and brainstormed idea can be tested—and approved or rejected—based on that purpose.

    Consider the following for when you plan your next special event:

    What is the one message you want your audience to remember when they leave?

    What is the purpose? To inform, educate, celebrate, thank, inspire, or …? (Please don’t say “because we always have this event.”)

    Who is your audience? Keep the audience and their experience at your event in mind at all times. It’s not about what YOU want, it’s about what THEY need.

    What will create the connection between your audience, your key message and your organization? It could be any combination of the real-life stories, video, information at the table, or entertainment.

    Who are the best people to help deliver this message? So often we get caught up in politics and feel that every senior leader/volunteer should have their time at the podium. But if they aren’t the right person to support your key messaging, you can do more harm than good. Ultimately, your leaders want a successful event more than they want three minutes of airtime.

    How can you build the message and reinforce it with every element of your event?

    And remember, when the event is over – it’s not over. Take the opportunity to follow-up at least once with your attendees to reinforce the message and keep them close to your organization. Maybe it’s a note or a call or a personalized picture, but always follow up.

    Posted by Sara Luke
    Sara Luke

    Written by Sara Luke

    Sara is fueled by an enthusiasm for helping organizations craft and present the right message to help further their mission. Coupled with her passion for non-profits and the life-changing work they do each day, Sara is eager to find creative and effective solutions to marketing/communication challenges.

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