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4 Questions to Ask When Planning Your Next Nonprofit Event

Regular Advisor

To host a successful event, you always want to have the end goal in mind. After all the invites have been sent and your guests have left the venue, after all your post-event surveys have been returned and you've added up the donations or sales, how will you know that you've gotten the return you wanted on the investment of time and money you put into the event?


For a nonprofit organization, knowing what event success looks like is critical. Here are four questions to ask yourself during the early stages of your planning process:


1. What is the right type of event?

What is the purpose of your event? Is it to raise awareness of your cause or organization? Is it to raise funds? Or do you want to increase your number of volunteers? If your purpose is exposure and awareness, or an increased number of volunteers, then depending on your organization, a fun gathering where people can get to know what you're all about and how they can get involved may be most appropriate. If you're trying to help out a specific cause by raising funds or collecting resources, then perhaps something more low key and informational will work better.


2. What is the right content to include?

Now that you know what kind of event you're going to host, think about how best to communicate your message. Will it be by having a speaker who is a beneficiary of your organization's work? Will it be some quick pamphlets that can be taken home and read later? Maybe it's not that serious or formal; your staff members making personal connections with attendees can serve to inspire and encourage others to get involved.


3. Who do we want to include?

For your event to be successful, you need to ensure that the right people are in attendance. For example, if you're hosting a fundraiser, a big turnout may be great, but if those people aren’t inclined to make donations, then the event won't achieve its goal. If you want to increase the number of volunteers, then having many current volunteers in attendance will help your message get across more effectively. If you're trying to get people together to take physical action (such as building a home through Habitat for Humanity), then you need people who can handle such a task.


4. How will we measure success?

Ultimately, knowing what success should look like will help you determine which metrics to look at. If your goal is simply to raise awareness or exposure, then looking at donations won't be as important an indicator of success. Instead, you can look at the number of people who attend, or the number of mentions of your organization or cause on social media. However, if you want to raise money or increase volunteers, then obviously your metric will be to look at how much is raised or how many new people signed up.


What are the questions you ask to determine if your events are successful? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook Page. And to learn how nonprofit organizations of all types are marketing their events, we invite you to attend our Online Event Marketing for Nonprofits webinar.


Martin Lieberman is Constant Contact's managing editor. He develops blog posts, articles, guides, and more about email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, and online survey best practices, as well as small business and engagement marketing trends. Martin has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing content for a variety of audiences. Martin's tips, ideas, and solutions help small businesses and organizations build successful customer and member relationships. Follow Martin on Twitter at @martinlieberman.


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