Schools Training

Event Planning Courses, Your Way Into the Exciting World of Nonprofits

19 MAR 2012
Career Path : Business

Many charities like to offer special events. In fact, most hold at least one major special event each year. But not all have the resources to organize fundraisers on their own. Many turn to graduates of event planning courses for help. That’s where you come in. Here’s an overview of your role.

Planning

You may have learned in event planning courses that planning for a major event can begin as many as nine to twelve months in advance.

And, as you probably also learned in your event planning courses, a lot of the early work revolves around:

  • determining the budget
  • securing the funds

You may be called in at this point to help the fundraising (or “development”) team arrive at a realistic budget. This is the perfect chance to use those budget worksheets assigned to you in your event planning courses.

Your training from event planning courses will not extend to helping your client secure the funds for the event. This will be the sole responsibility of the development team, who will raise money from various sources, including board members and major donors, i.e., the very people who will attend your fundraiser.

Grads of event planning courses, get to know your client’s mission

If your client organizes just one signature event per year, it’s important that it reflects their mission.

Is their mission to:

  • help troubled youth return to school?
  • save an endangered species?
  • provide emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence?

One way to reflect the mission is by your choice of theme. (You will remember the concept of event themes from your event planning courses. Refer to your business college’s recommended textbooks for ideas.)

Harness the power of volunteers

As a charitable organization, your client probably has a volunteer base. Use it! Your helpers may not have taken event planning courses, but they can help you achieve your goals.

Become a volunteer yourself

While you are still pursuing your event planning courses, you can try your hand at organizing your own fundraiser for a favourite charity. It will:

  • help you remember to thank your volunteers warmly (a crucial skill for event planning courses alumni who work in the nonprofit industry)
  • look good on your CV when you graduate from your event planning courses

Other considerations

  • Keep the speeches at your event brief. Better yet: keep the speech, singular, at your event brief. As in, five minutes, max.
  • Make sure that any raffle prizes reflect the values of the organization
  • Don’t make the event about how great your client is: make it about how great their supporters are. In the nonprofit world, donors are the true heroes.

It can be daunting for a graduate of event planning courses to realize that an organization’s operating budget depends on the success of their event. Trust in yourself! You can do it.