4 Tips for Nonprofit Event Success

As president of BizBash Media and an associate professor at NYU, few people are as tapped into the event space as Richard Aaron. Richard is responsible for numerous annual events, including the BizBash/M&C Event Style Show and the BizBash Event Style Award Show.

Fresh on the heels of his company’s relaunch of the United Nations Delegates Dining Room, I asked Richard to share some tips for planning memorable nonprofit events.

Here are his four tips:

1. Experiment with branded activations

Richard told me that they’re seeing an increased demand for branded activations, which he believes is an outgrowth of our experience economy. What are they exactly? As he explains it, they’re interactions that can be transmitted over social platforms, increasing the life of the engagement.

Typically you think of them as they relate to huge brands, like Coco Cola’s Beatbox Pavilion at the London Olympics. This interactive, large-scale musical instrument where certain gestures and movements triggered the panels to react, remixing recordings created for Coca-Cola’s global “Move to the Beat” Olympic campaign was pretty cool, right?

But how can nonprofits get in on the action (or interaction)? Richard told me that more event planners are now using tech-savvy ID wristbands for general admission and/or VIP access. These customizable wristbands are designed for admissions, ticketing, and cashless payments. How? They contain RFID technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify people or objects, making it easy for you to identify different groups at your event (volunteers, VIP donors, etc.).

Another popular activation option is branded photo booths. As Richard points out, these photos live on through the likes of Facebook and Twitter, increasing the event engagement across social platforms.

2. Remember — social media is a must

“Be sure to map out a game plan for integrating social media before, during, and after your events. Your sponsors, donors, and volunteers are using social media and you need to have a blended philosophy,” says Richard.

From using Facebook to expand the reach of your email invitations, to collecting and publishing images on Instagram and Storify, there are many platforms to take advantage of. As great as all of this can be, it can also be overwhelming. His advice?

“Take a look at how some of the top event people are working with social media to add value to marketing efforts and attendee experience, and learn how to adapt these tools for your own event planning.”

3. Consider crowdfunding

Richard is a big proponent of setting high/low budgets for everything event related.

“This way, you’re prepared for any best case/worst case scenarios you come across, like a sponsor falling through,” he says.

Richard also suggests looking into the growing popularity of crowdfunding, which is a great way to use social media to raise awareness and money. Some interesting options include Crowdrise, designed specifically for fundraisers, and RocketHub, which has some great education tools for learning the ropes.

4. Dream Big

This was my favorite piece of advice from Richard:

“When you’re planning an event, don’t reach for the roof and land on the ground. Reach for the stars and land on the roof.”

What’s your tip for planning a memorable nonprofit event? Share with me below.

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