A nonprofit organization can utilize a special event as a tool for fundraising or raising awareness of its mission in the community – but events are time and money consuming. Following guidelines throughout the planning process can help make your event a success by streamlining the focus of the organization.

To hold a successful event, consider the following:

1. A Mission-related Speaker

Having a popular speaker at your event is a great draw for your audience to attend – but the speaker should be someone who can attest to the mission of the organization.

It’s vital to have an impact-making speaker. You need someone who has a tie to the organization’s mission – someone who is respected and will draw in a crowd.

2. A Realistic Budget

Budgeting for your event – realistically – is necessary to focus your event on accomplishing its goals. If you’re planning to have 500+ people at your event, you need to allocate enough money to cover the location, food and drinks, parking, etc. for all the guests. If you plan an event with a larger budget in mind than you have, you’re going to end up having to scale back on the event ideas at the last minute. Keeping a close eye on your budget throughout the process will ensure there are no surprises in the end. Do your research early to determine what budget you need and make sure you leave a comfortable margin for changes in expenses down the road.

3. Plenty of Planning Time

It is absolutely necessary to allow yourself ample planning time for your event. Having to cram your planning into a short amount of time will be detrimental to your event’s success.

You’re going to need more than six weeks of planning time for a big event with 500 guests. Don’t underestimate how much time you’re going to need.

It takes time to reserve an event location, hire a caterer, invite your audiences and market your event. You need to give yourself time to plan without being frantic over time constraints.

4. Working with the Media

An event will not be successful if there isn’t great media coverage.  You need to start working with media months before the event – sending press releases, pitching story ideas, writing op-eds, placing advertisements, etc. You should reach out to various media outlets so you are getting the most widespread coverage possible. More people will see coverage of your event if the information is in several different publications.

5. Making the Ask

If fundraising is the main goal of your event, you should be sure to “make the ask” – ask the attendees at your event to donate money to your organization. But make sure they know where it is going. Guests need to know exactly what the money is going toward after the event – a specific program, a new building, the organization as a whole. Make sure they feel confident their money will be used wisely to support your mission. Envelopes should be available so event guests can easily make donations.

6. Following Up with Guests

In a truly successful event, the planning doesn’t end when the event does. You should be prepared to follow up with the guests at your event. You should thank them for their attendance, as well as any donations they made – guests are not likely to forget about an organization or its event if they were contacted afterward.