In 2008, during the economic downturn, I presented the following information about successful event management in a tough economy to a select group of nonprofit executives and community leaders in Arlington. Based on our experience across the region, I think it is worth sharing here, as the principles hold for any economy at any time. I hope you find it helpful.
What is working?
1. Events with a purpose. Now is the time to evaluate just that.
2. Events designed to build relationships and boost long-term organizational goals, not short-sided goals.
3. Events that are not all about the staff, but instead are heavily led by committed volunteers with specific, professional staff support--job descriptions, organizational charts, expectations and structure; where volunteers are in a position to be very successful and move up in the event and organization's leadership.
4. Events that celebrate every dollar contributed and every dollar retained.
5. Events that create a "default" level of support, where a "no" can become a "yes" and the relationship can be created or maintained. (I'll write more about this later. This tip deserves its own article.)
6. Events with managers that really listen to their donors. Events that increase their in-kind support, and cut all unnecessary expenses.
7. Events that are uniquely tied to the organization's mission.
8. Events that excel with their sponsorship benefit fulfillment.
9. Events that provide timely, personal thank you correspondence to volunteers, sponsors, guests, and donors. (We suggest within three days.)