Planning Is Key


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

At some point in your career, a client (or organization’s leader) might say to you “I been thinking about our upcoming event and I have everything figured out.  By the way, I will only need your involvement with the event’s logistics.”

Depending upon your workload, you might be tempted to view this as a huge blessing.  However, if you are in the business of producing successful fundraising events, you will instinctively know that logistics are one important piece of a very large puzzle.  Based on my past experiences, I can assure you things are always more complex than they appear.

This may sound like Event Planning 101, but before you can confidently say “Let’s Begin”, I strongly recommend that you spend some time working with your client (organization’s leaders or stakeholders), to determine their definition of success.  Achieving clarity around the vision and goals is essential to planning and executing a successful event.

Need some ideas on how to direct this process?  Here are some questions you might want to ask.

  1. What is the purpose of this event?  Why is it important to your organization?
  2. Who is your target audience?  What do you know about them?  Where do they gather?  What event spaces appeal to them?
  3. Once you understand where your audience gathers, what is the best venue for the event you are planning?
  4. After you have engaged your audience, what do you want from them?  What is the call to action?  What would you like for them to do?
  5. Are you confident this event is the best way to engage them?
  6. Will this event serve as a compliment to your organization’s existing programs?

What you learn during this “fact-finding stage” will equip you to guide your client (or organization) through the process of setting attainable and measurable goals.  Here is one example for your consideration.


To raise much-needed financial support from existing donors.
Remember, you do not want to stop at this point!
The next step, and perhaps most important, is to encourage existing donors to recruit their business colleagues, friends and family to participate.

Lastly, their participation can be measured in a couple of ways including:

  1. Purchasing a ticket or table required to attend the event.
  2. Responding to event-related outreach efforts, such as making a contribution, if they chose not to attend the event.

Hopefully, over time, your organization will have new donors to add to its list.  Remember, so much needs to happen before you can confidently say “let’s begin.”  Asking the right questions, and probing for answers, is the key to a successful event.

In future posts, I will share some of the metrics that you can use to evaluate your event’s success.

Until next time, happy planning!


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