You’ve probably been to an event that went off the rails. Maybe the caterer never showed up at a wedding. Or maybe the speaker at a gala went off on a cringe-worthy tangent. Maybe you were at a concert that shut down early because of noise ordinances. How can you avoid having your event go off the rails?
A while ago, we talked about how to prep for a fall fundraising event. Now, it’s time to talk about what to do to ensure your event runs smoothly once all the details are handled.
Here are some tips that will keep your fall fundraising event running smoothly!
Schedule a Team Meeting the Day of the Event
Your team has worked hard to get to this point! Assemble everyone for one last meeting on the day of the event. During your meeting, take time to run through your event’s schedule and logistics. This is the ideal time to figure out small details you might have overlooked. Running through the schedule can help you catch overlaps or gaps in your scheduling, and it’s a valuable refresher, even if everyone’s already familiar with the schedule.
This is also a perfect opportunity to cover any small details you might have missed during the planning process. Little things—who’s supposed to pay the vendors at the end of the night, for example, or who’s responsible for emptying the trash cans—will undoubtedly come up. Now’s the time to cover as many small details as you can!
You should also take this opportunity to thank your team and amp them up before the event. Planning and executing an event is a ton of hard work. Many people may be exhausted before the event even starts! A pep talk, a little bit of appreciation, and maybe a cup of coffee or a snack will give them the boost they need to make it across the finish line.
Get Everyone’s Contact Information
This is such an important detail, but it’s so easy to overlook! Everyone on your team should have everyone else’s contact information. They should also have contact information for all vendors!
Being able to communicate as a team is a huge, important part of throwing a great event. On top of that, event staff should know exactly who to contact with different questions. Who should contact whom if the caterer runs out of food? Or whom should someone call if a donor asks about setting up a meeting to discuss programs in more detail? Who knows where the keys to the utility closet are if you run out of trash bags? These are all small details, but knowing exactly how to contact the person who can address those details will go a long way toward reducing stress and ensuring your event goes off without a hitch.
Be Ready to Help Accept Donations
This is a fall fundraising event, after all! One of the best ways to hit your fundraising goals at an event is to make it easy for donors to give. Offer a number of different avenues donors can use to make a donation! Every nonprofit will have their own preferences—text giving, on-site kiosks, people who can accept checks—but it’s important that all methods are easy for the donor. The last thing you want is for a donor to think, “Eh, I’ll just wait ’til I get home to make a gift,” then quickly forget about it. Have a couple of people available to help donors if they need it.
Consider using tools like:
- Text giving
Make text keywords easy to remember (and type!). You can also include your keyword on event materials like banners or handouts.
- On-site options
Some donors may want to donate with their credit cards but aren’t comfortable with text giving. Having an on-site option makes it easy for them. There are a number of different options, from having volunteers with a hand-held kiosk to something as simple as a virtual terminal with a card reader.
- Mobile-friendly donation forms
A donation form that’s easy to to use on a smartphone is something you should already have. Let your donors know how they can get to your form and let them handle the rest.
- Simple cash and checks
These are still popular donation methods! Put someone in charge of managing cash and checks, getting receipts to donors, and getting them to the bank. (Psst, Qgiv clients: you can use your Qgiv account to track cash and check donations and have them show up in your campaign thermometer!).
However you choose to accept donations, the main focus should be making it easy to donate. Don’t make people work to support you! Have someone on hand to help answer questions, take payments, or troubleshoot digital methods.
Test Your Tech
That means running through your donation methods, yes. But it includes other things, too! If you’re using any kind of tech at your fall fundraising event, make sure it’s working correctly just before the start of the event. Do your speakers work properly? Are your mics ready to go (and do you have backup batteries for wireless mics?)? Does the audio work for your videos, if you’re using them?
Technical issues can really throw off an event’s flow, and they can be awkward for your speakers and audience (let alone your staff!). Taking some time to run through your program and testing the tech and PA system can save you a lot of frustration.
Make a Break-Down Checklist
Everybody loves a good checklist, right? Checklists for setting up are common. But what about checklists for breaking down?
Assign break-down responsibilities the same way you assigned planning responsibilities. Make sure you’ve got the big things covered, of course, like cleaning up and returning rentals. Double-check the small things, too, like making sure there’s a plan for storing centerpieces or event materials.
Let’s be honest—no matter how great your event is, your staff is going to want to go home. They’re exhausted! Checklists will get all the important break-down pieces handled quickly so they can go relax.
Everyone knows that events require extensive planning. But there’s more to an event than great planning! Executing your plans smoothly and effectively takes a little effort. If you want to keep your event running smoothly, take some extra steps. First, run through the program with your staff to sniff out any snags or missed details that could affect you later. Ensure everyone knows exactly whom to contact if issues arise, and make sure everyone knows how to contact each other. Testing your donation avenues and other technology and preparing for the post-event break-down will help, too.
Want to learn more about how to make your fall fundraising event awesome? Check out this article—it’s got tons of food for thought about event planning!