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Thirty-Two Tips for Hosting a Successful Event or Fundraiser

by Beth Caldwell
Article: Tips for a Successful Event or Fundraiser

I am a huge fan of "EventWorking". It is a wonderful way to promote your business and become known in your community. In my years of planning workshops, events and fundraisers, I have come up with some good ideas and tips for a successful event. Feel free to use these helpful tips to make your event a success.

  1. Keep all information in one place. I usually use a bright colored folder or binder and that helps me to be able to locate all the items for one project when I need it.

  2. Keep marketing materials simple and consistent. I like to use one full page flyer to post in public, and a half page flyer or which is more affordable to duplicate for passing out at networking events or chamber meetings. Large postcards can be very effective also, and can be mailed or used as handouts.

  3. Always check with your presenter or speaker for approval before printing or distributing marketing materials.

  4. If this is a first time event, you will want to invite people by mail, email and phone. A good rule of thumb is call, mail, email, and then call again to remind them. Don't count on email alone to fill your event. You can mail your flyers in bright envelopes, or send hand written invitations to a select number of people. Many people will do a mass mailing using postcards.

  5. Avoid email attachments, as many people will not open or take the time to download attachments. Whenever possible, copy and paste the information into an email.

  6. When emailing, always use the BCC field, which means "blind copy". People do not like to scroll down through other people's email addresses, and they also don't like their email address to be shared with others.

  7. Always use an attention-getting subject line in your emails, as well as on your flyers. Which email would you be more attracted to:

    • You're Invited
    • Event In March
    • Have Lunch with (Celebrity Name) on March 12th
    • Meet (Celebrity Name) at Alexandra's on March 12th

  8. Send a press release to your local newspaper, radio and TV Station announcing your event. Place your event on local community calendars in print and online. Include a photo of your guest speaker or your guests of honor.

  9. Invite the press or other photography to attend and photograph your event.

  10. Have an agenda and stick to it. Start and end your event on time. You want to appear organized at all times.

  11. Make sure you have an introduction for your guest speakers. Ask to have one sent to you ahead of time. Print it in EXTRA LARGE PRINT so it's easy to read. If you are not comfortable introducing someone, be sure that you assign this task to someone who is comfortable.

  12. Plan ahead for adequate and comfortable seating. Think of events that you have attended. Do you enjoy sitting in chairs that are packed in tightly in rows, or do you prefer to be spread out at tables? Consider the environment that your guests would be comfortable in.

  13. Make sure you have a place to hang coats, umbrellas, etc.

  14. Make sure your event venue is accessible for people with disabilities, and that you have arrangements for people who may need special seating for audio or visual needs.

  15. Make sure you have plenty of food and that you make arrangements for special diets. Always have a caffeine-free drink available, and if you are serving lunch, if you have a meat free soup or salad, you will have something for vegetarians. If you are serving alcohol, make sure to have a non-alcohol alternative. Extra food is always better than not enough. Have plenty of ice, napkins, plates and cups/glasses.

  16. Have several trash receptacles and offer a recycling area.

  17. If you are expecting more than 50 people, you will need a microphone.

  18. Check with your speaker or presenter and see if they are in need of a podium, table, screen, etc. You don't want to be scrambling for these items at the last minute. Find out if your speaker is providing handouts or if you are expected to provide them. Always have 10-20 extra handouts.

  19. Make sure you come prepared with pens, pencils, paper, business cards, name tags, hand sanitizer, and extra name tags and a marker.

  20. If you are collecting money at the door, have plenty of change, a calculator, and a way for people to pay by check and credit card.

  21. Always get the cell phone number of your speaker, the person who is in charge at the venue, and your event planner. Have these items with you on the day of the event. They don't do you any good at your desk!

  22. Arrange for one or two volunteers to handle registration for you. You need to be available at the event, not doing registration.

  23. Plan on arriving early and staying late the day of; don't schedule other appointments, errands or tasks for that day.

  24. When you arrive at the venue, walk around the entire room and picture your guests. Is it a comfortable room, are the tables and chairs set-up appropriately, you do not want to be making "adjustments" as your guests are arriving?

  25. Calm and soothing background music is good to have while people are arriving and checking in.

  26. Consider having directional signs if your venue is hard to find. Make sure they are professional looking, large and easy to read.

  27. At the event, you can have a poster or sign on an easel so that people can easily locate you. I get my posters done very affordably in the photo department at Sams, Costco, WalMart or other office supply stores.

  28. Send an email 2-3 days prior to your event reminding people of the date, location, and speaker. Include directions and let your guests know if parking is free or if they need to bring cash for parking, valet, etc.

  29. Consider using an email service to send professional email invitations.

  30. Consider using a telephone service where you can broadcast your invite to many people at one time.

  31. Do not schedule other appointments the day of or the day after your event.

  32. Send thank you notes or emails to your attendees and especially to your speaker or presenter.

  33. Beth Caldwell is the author of the book "I Wish I'd Known THAT! Secrets to Success in Business From Women Who've Been There."

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