Episode 004

Sit back, relax, and put on our “Elevate Your Event” podcast to learn a gazillion different ways to host more fun (and more lucrative) fundraising events.

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We’ve been doing events even before Handbid was born in 2011. We’ve been involved in hundreds of them, so we’ve seen a thing or two! We all have stories about the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve been there, schlepping in the extreme heat and checking in guests in the extreme cold. We know that event planners and managers wear many hats and have to be willing to do anything and everything to make an event successful. You’re the main problem solver of the day, and you have to be ready to jump into action whenever there's something that needs fixing, whether it's rolling silverware or serving food to hungry attendees (or both!).

Today on the Elevate Your Event Podcast, the Handbid team is sharing some of their best (and worst!) event moments, and they give 4 practical tactics you can start implementing today that will make your event a success.

1. Implement smooth processes

Every process associated with your event must be smooth: from your invitations to your guest list to the checkout process at the end of your event, make it easy for guests and volunteers so they can get to the fun stuff, like the bar and the evening’s entertainment. This is why we believe that event software is a must. You can easily check guests in, update their information, and even allow them to bid on auction items from a mobile device. 

It’s important to note that whatever you do, use only one process. Don’t use an electronic check-in system AND update information on a spreadsheet. It’s too easy to make mistakes or miss important information. 

Click “play” on the podcast above to hear about an event that had guests filling out cards to update their information. Spoiler: it did NOT go well. 

2. Plan something fun to do at your event

Even if your number one goal is to raise money, you want your guests to walk away saying, “That was fun!” How will you make your event fun? Try having a wine tasting or wine pull, a hole-in-one contest, live music, or performance. You might even try having a “selfie room,” with different backdrops, Ring Lights and phone tripods so people can take selfies to their heart’s content!

3. Make meaningful connections with your donors

How are you communicating with your donors? If you want to make every event a success, your communication strategy is key. You want the people at your event (donors and potential donors) to feel confident and stress-free going into your event. Communicate information about your event in advance, like where they should park, or what auction items they can bid on.

During your event, make that meaningful connection with the people in the room by communicating the impact their donation is making. Show a video of what your mission is about, or bring in a speaker who has benefitted from your organization to share their story.

If you’ve already shown your event attendees a great time and made this meaningful connection, they will likely tell their friends and loved ones about how wonderful your cause is, and bring them to next year’s event.

4. Have Courage

This tactic may seem like it doesn’t fit in a conversation about event planning, but it really does take courage to pull off a successful event. Times and technology change quickly, which means that you and your organization have to change with it. Change is hard, and many people will resist it fiercely. We often hear about major donors and board members who hesitate to switch to mobile bidding or new technology, or event managers who are afraid that these groups will pull their support as a result of change.

We want to encourage you to work through change and resistance. Be brave and try new things! We have many success stories of people who tried mobile bidding for the first time and increased their fundraising by more than seven times. It’s possible, but it takes courage in the face of doubt!

We can say that we have personally experienced all of these tactics. They make the job of executing events easier, and are worth implementing even if you think that "you don't have the time or money." It doesn't matter if it's a 5-person team or a 10-person team; these tactics will be useful at any organization. We also hope you will find them useful in your endeavors and at your next event!

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