How to Make Your Special Event Truly Special

There is no shortage of special events; fundraising dinners, groundbreakings, cocktail receptions, sporting events, even office parties abound. The process usually starts with someone in the organization offering the idea to put together an event, and before you know it, the idea snowballs into what can either be a tremendous success, or a situation where the organization wishes they had never pursued the idea.

In the nonprofit world, the first mistake organizations make when deciding to do a special event is to not have realistic expectations of what it can do for the agency both monetarily and for image enhancement. It usually takes three years of doing the same special event for the event to at least break even and then it can start seeing income. This is just an average, there are exceptions to everything.

The other mistake is to underestimate how much work it takes. Putting on a large-scale special event can be extremely time-consuming if done by all internally. And, when budgeting, staff time needs to be considered.

But on the other hand, a special event, when done correctly, can be a gold mine in terms of raising money, awareness, making new friends and clients, retaining clients and boosting internal morale.

When we do special events for our clients, we always first start with a solid plan as to what it is our client wishes to accomplish. Then we design an event that is manageable and we know will achieve the goals and objectives that were decided at the outset.

Another critical tip is to give yourself enough time, especially with a first time event. Six months time to plan an event is minimum and it is certainly not unusual to plan an event nine or 12 months ahead. When planning a special event, one thing is for certain -- time has a way of getting away from you and before you know it the event is tomorrow.

Last, consider all the components of a good special event. Not only is there the concept, but you need to also take into consideration and appropriate venue, food, entertainment, permits, marketing the event to your guest list, publicity, production of materials, rentals, sponsorships and the list goes on and on. That is why most nonprofits and for-profits work with a firm that specializes in arranging special events. Talk to a few firms and get a feel for what they can do to make your special event truly special.

When working with the right special event firm, they will usually save you more money than you spend hiring them.


Harvey Farr is founder and president of Farr Marketing Group (FMG), a Los Angeles public relations and marketing firm.  FMG specializes in issues and causes marketing and public relations and is known for its experience marketing non-profit organizations.  FMG also represents financial institutions, attorneys, law firms, accountancy firms, and labor organizations.

Areas of expertise and services include strategic planning, media relations, crisis communications, special eve...

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