Savvy event planners know one of the most important factors of success is starting early. That means six to twelve months prior to the big date, you should be busy creating your to-do list and checking off tasks as you accomplish them. Following are some of things you should have completed - or be well on your way to completing - by the six month mark.
1. Event Chair: The first step is to appoint an event chair. This will be the point person throughout the entire process, so make sure he or she has the time and passion to do the job right. Look for a "champion" who is motivated to help the entire organization succeed and understands the bigger picture. Many organizations elect two co-chairs to share the responsibility of organizing the event, but this depends on the size and scope of your operation.
Once you've selected your Event Chair(s), it's time to start forming a committee of key volunteers – such as board members and staff – that can help throughout the planning process.
2. Kickoff party: Next you should schedule the event kickoff party. This is a time to review previous event successes and failures, and determine a vision for the next benefit auction. At this meeting it’s important to discuss budget constrictions and fundraising goals so everyone can get on the same page. By the end of the meeting you should have your main auction objectives set.
3. Venues and sponsors: By the nine-month mark, you should have started researching event venues, catering options and insurance costs. You’ll also want to have a list of potential event sponsors and have your committee reach out to each to get commitments.
4. Communication: Keep in mind that it’s important to schedule meetings at minimum on a monthly basis. The closer you get to your event date, the more meetings you’ll likely need. In addition to meetings, keep all key people connected through regular email and phone calls.
5. Auction procurement: Procuring quality items is critical to your event’s success. Now is the time to research and contact potential donors. This is also a good time to learn more about no-risk consignment items and experiences that can bring higher caliber bids.
Keep your eye on the prize! By six months, you should have a solid start to your fundraising auction idea. We recommend having your venue, theme and entertainment set so you can begin to promote your auction. Hopefully you have a good start on item procurement and can continue to add new and exciting items to the auction list.
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With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.
Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.