Planning and executing a nonprofit event is no small task filled with a never-ending list of details. In short, it’s a lot of work.
If you’re going to put in the time and energy to pull off an event, you might as well maximize your efforts and do everything you can to make an excellent impression. Little things can make a big difference, and it’s often the details that can make or break someone’s inclination to support your organization and then stick around for more.
Here are six ways to make a stellar impression at your next event.
Keep check-in and registration organized. Registration can become a scene of mass confusion. An organized system will make a good first impression on registrants, especially those who are new, so do what’s necessary to streamline this process. Bonus tip: Always recruit more help than you think you need—it’s easy for staff to get sidetracked during this process, answering questions and addressing specific issues for registrants. The more people you have to help, the more streamlined this process will be.
Create opportunities for networking. Networking is an important part of any event—for some, it’s the sole reason they show up. Meals and happy hours are particularly effective for relationship building. Don’t pack your schedule so tight that people don’t have breathing (and schmoozing) room.
Give out useful swag. Let’s be honest, a lot of conference swag is useless junk. Try giving out items that can be used at the actual conference, like notepads and pens, USB drives or mobile chargers. You can also try digital swag, like free downloads or discounts on apps.
Embrace (and encourage) social sharing. Many people love to share with their social networks, whether it’s something fun they’re doing, good food they’re eating, new friends they’re making or a particularly insightful quip from a speaker. Have a hashtag ready that attendees can use and encourage people to share pictures, quotes, video and tweets during the event—a great way to expand your reach and exposure.
Include a call to action. Have you ever listened to an inspiring speech, been emotionally moved to do something—and then nothing? The talk ends, the audience applauds and the next scheduled activity begins. You have a captive audience at your event, so if you anticipate a particularly inspiring talk, plan a call to action for your attendees immediately following that talk. Maybe you give them a few moments to send an email to a policymaker. Tweet out something they learned. Sign a pledge with your organization. Make a mobile donation. Subscribe to your email list. Think about the content of the talk, then come up with a call to action that’s easy and makes sense.
Have information available about your next event. Since your attendees are so impressed with this event, it makes sense that they'll want to hear about your next one. This is the perfect time to promote it. Make sure your staff is armed with information about where and when the next big thing is happening, and do a little shameless advertising.