Charitable events are a popular (and sometimes) effective way to raise funds and awareness for non-profit organizations. An event is an opportunity to share information about your cause, but more so to share a little of your personality and to host an event that guests will remember and look forward to attending again the next year.

That said, no matter how much marketing or branding you do, it is important to ensure that the event is right for you and that hosting an event (although it sounds like a fun idea) is going to be beneficial for your organization.

A simple checklist will help you to decide whether or not an event is right for you.

  • Can you secure an event sponsor who can underwrite costs?
  • Do you have access to passionate and influential volunteers? Or is there a committee already in place?
  • Find out what other competing events are taking place at the same time. This is not limited to charitable events.
  • Check to see if similar events already take place where you live and find out how successful they are.
  • Are there opportunities to partner with other charities or have someone else host an event on your behalf?
  • What types of things can you have donated for the event? For example, venue, entertainment, food and beverages.
  • Do you have the staff resources and the time to commit to hosting an event?
  • How much of the money raised will be used to offset the costs of organizing the event? 10 – 15% is the recommended maximum.

Goals and Objectives

Whether the event is a small get together or a full blown gala it is important to set your objectives and deliver a consistent message. Knowing the purpose and desired outcome right from the start will influence everything from the guest list to the venue.

Once you have determined the goal then you can start to build the brand. For larger organizations with a complex service offering an event is a unique opportunity to showcase one area of need. Donors can better relate to specific needs than an overall cause, especially for those who are new to your organization.

Consistency

From the invitations through to the cocktails, the best events have a consistent look and feel throughout. Although an event brand can be unique from the organization’s brand there still needs to be a connection. It can be tricky to pull off, but when you do it will create a memorable experience for guests that has them talking about (and remembering) your event and organization.

Recently, William Joseph was the design sponsor for Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatoon’s (CHFS) Jeans and Jewels Event. Jeans and Jewels is an annual gala for CHFS and a much anticipated event in Saskatoon. This year the brand shifted from more child-focused branding to incorporate glitter and gold. The brand was represented in the design materials, as well as the décor for the event.

The décor coordinator created an event that featured gold décor, gold rimmed champagne cocktails, and gold models that were placed strategically throughout the venue. The event brand was so strong that guests and the media were very excited and talking about the event after.

Even amidst all the gold, the event still promoted CHFS and stayed true to its cause and motivation. The new brand added a unique element and gave the organization a chance to be bold and to do something a little different that would only work in an event context.

So whether you are kicking off a new event, or planning for a long standing one, review the checklist to be sure that it will be a positive investment for your organization. Then start to think about what you can do to make your event unique and memorable. Build a brand for a new event or refresh an old one. Event branding is your opportunity to make an impact and to have some fun. It can also be a chance to appeal to potential donors that might not have noticed you before.