Posted by Lisa Thompson

You plan, prepare, promote and pull off an amazing fundraising event, and then what? Naturally, you breathe a sigh of relief and go home—that is, if you’re like most event planners. And, of course, that makes sense: Planning and pulling off a successful event is a Herculean task. You deserve some rest.

But what if you tried something different that could get you miles farther than a sigh of relief and en evening on your couch? Instead of simply packing up your leftover swag, patting your volunteers on the back and turning off the lights on your current event, you could (don’t hit me)—get ready for your next one.

If you’re going to plan, staff and host one event, why not prepare for the next one at the same time? It might seem like biting off more than you can chew, but you’ll be saving time in the long run. Here are four ways to get ready for your next event before your current one is over.

  1. Promote the next event now. If you’re hosting an annual event, like a holiday fundraiser, have the date of next year’s event ready to share with people. Optimally, you could set up a table where attendees can register for next year’s event at a discounted rate, or even create a page on your website for next year’s registration. This leads to the second point.
  2. Have your website ready. You’re probably going to share the successes of your current event online. Attendees will be excited to see pictures, videos, fundraising results, etc., and you can have that landing page nearly ready to go before your event is over. On that page, promote your next event along with a date, time and, if you can manage it, a link to register. You don’t need to have all the deets nailed down in order to start promoting it. Plus you’ll catch attendees at the height of their excitement for your organization—it’s a great time for recruiting. Might as well ride that wave and get your website ready for what’s to come.
  3. Ask attendees what they want next time. People love to give you their opinions, so let them. When collecting speaker/session feedback at the current conference or event, leave space on the card asking for suggestions for the next event. What changes would you like to see for next time? What would make the next event better? Or even, would you be willing to volunteer? This will give you good insight as you plan the next event’s details.
  4. Personally inform, thank and invite. Donors want to know they’ve made a difference, and adding a personal touch to this could be a major bonus. If possible, have your staff or board handwrite thank-you notes to be mailed within a week after your event. These can actually be written at the board meeting prior to your event if you have the attendee list. Along with sharing results and expressing appreciation, add an invite. “Put November 9, 2015 on your calendar! We’d love for you to join us that evening for our special holiday food drive.”

You’re going to be exhausted after every conference or event—that’s a given. But if you’re strategic and plan ahead, you can get a jump on your next big endeavor. You’ll sleep better knowing you have a head start.