event planningMany nonprofits host a number of events each year, and each requires extensive planning to prevent major or minor disruptions that can ruin everyone’s enjoyment. The types of events that your nonprofit might hold can vary widely.

NFP events include fundraisers organised around a specific activity or theme, such as a charity gala, auction or celebrations and awards ceremonies that recognise the contributions of volunteers and supporters. Many nonprofits also host public service types of events such as conferences that seek to educate others about their cause and raise awareness about the nonprofit’s mission.

The following event planning checklist will allow you to zero in on the fine details to ensure that you’re properly organised and prepared.

Proper Planning and Preparation

The greater the number of people that are expected to attend your nonprofit’s event, the more planning it will require. Allocate plenty of time to thoroughly plan out the timetable in great detail.

Ideally, your nonprofit needs to begin event planning at least four to six months before the event is expected to occur. In these early stages, the topic or theme of your event, and the date, time and location should be confirmed. This is especially critical if you are hosting your event off-site as the dates for many mid to large sized venues fill up quickly.

Recruit Planning Help

Another helpful tip is to not leave all of the planning and preparation up to just one person. In the early stages, it is best to organise a planning committee. Appoint a chairperson for the event, and then assign specific tasks and areas of responsibility to each member.

Essential details that the committee will want to get started on include creating a budget for the event and getting cost estimates for travel, hotel rooms and caterers. Contacting potential sponsors to partner with your nonprofit to help pay for the event is another task that your planning committee will want to take care of in the early days.

Insurance and underwriting are details that are easy to overlook, so be certain to include them in the early stages of your planning.

Additional things to take care of in the beginning include getting in touch with a master of ceremonies, as well as talking with other speakers, presenters and entertainers. You need to get a firm commitment that they will be able to perform on the nominated date and time.

It’s also important to have plans for after the event. Make sure that you have enough assistance in clearing the stage and cleaning up the venue once the attendees have left.

Finally, don’t forget to develop and implement a plan to publicise your upcoming event.

Mid-Stage Planning Tasks

Around three months before the event, it’s necessary to have your event details ironed out and nailed down. Make certain that all contracts have been signed, and reservations for travel, accommodations, entertainment and bookings have been confirmed.

Take the time to re-confirm with speakers, caterers and printers so no scheduling conflicts arise. Make use of social media to stir up interest in your event. Create a Facebook page, post a promotional video on your nonprofit’s YouTube channel and website, and sign up to register your event in a variety of online calendars to help get the word out about your event.

At this stage, you will want to open registration for the event with entry deadlines communicated clearly. Services and tools such as Eventbrite make it easy for organisations to accept registration and payment details online.

Don’t forget to have a backup plan in place to line up replacement speakers and volunteers, should they be necessary.

The Final Month of Preparations

One month out before your event, send out reminders about registration deadlines. Write press releases about the focus of your event and include details such as the keynote speakers and notable guests that are expected to attend.

Additional details to take care of in the final month include asking for a copy of planned speeches and presentations and contacting sponsors to confirm their sponsorship.

The Final Week

Have the event planning committee meet to confirm that every segment is running smoothly. Do a check of registration and decide on final seating arrangements, place cards and name badges.

Ensure that all speeches have been approved, and go over the expected duties and timetable with the hosts, speakers and presenters, as well as volunteers that are expected to serve at the event. Do you have enough programs and other materials printed out for participants and guests? Check that the signage has arrived, and give the final tally of attendance to your caterer.

Confirm details of any planned photo-ops and interviews with the media as well as presenters.

The Day before the Big Day

The final day will be very hectic, and it’s important that committee members don’t forget to implement important details, such as organisation of the signage, registration tables and event items.

The Day of the Event

An hour or so before the event, check in with planning committee members to see that everything is in place and ready to go. All of your hard work and dedication will definitely pay off on the big day!

The Aftermath

Reach out to those that participated in your event and thank them for their attendance. Personalise your nonprofit’s thank you notes and mention what actions they can take to continue to support your cause in the future.

Survey all event participants and ask what they did and did not enjoy about the event as well as seek input on how you can make your next event even better.

Don’t forget to collect receipts and update the budget for your event.

It is imperative from a nonprofit’s perspective, that you conduct a thorough analysis of your event to look closely at what parts ran smoothly, and what steps your organisation can take to make things even better.