Make Events Matter

Well, of course you want your events to matter, you might be thinking.  Why would you do anything that doesn’t matter?

The term “event” means something different to everyone. One person’s 30-person meeting with boxed lunch “event” is not the same as another person’s 1,800 person annual meeting with cocktails, custom entertainment, two days of set-up and a 3-course meal.

Does the latter matter any more than the former? One could argue that yes, yes it does.  There’s more at stake.  There’s clearly a higher level of investment.

However, we'd argue that all events should and do matter.  Anything with a dollar sign attached to it should have purpose.  And while we have strategic marketing plans and strategic business development plans and pay people in those fields as the valued specialists that they are, we all too often undervalue, underfund, and under-strategize our events.

Which, by the way, is a mistake.  Events are a unique confluence of many different sectors – for businesses and nonprofits alike.  Events are messaging, business development, fundraising, education.  They are rife with opportunity, and yet, the average brain hears “event” and thinks of “food, crowds, money” … with variable ranking of those elements and equally variable negative or positive feelings. 

What if you thought of events as a strategic part of your marketing plan?  An integral part of your internal communication efforts? The way that you bridge donor cultivation and fundraising in one night?

Partly, we suffer from the “bad events” that we’ve attended and have PTSD from (reason # 1 to value your event professionals).  Partly, we suffer from the deadline-driven nature of events, and all too often they sneak up on us and we’re behind in our content, or our fundraising, or our registration process (reason #2 to value your event professionals).

Mostly, we suffer from the perception of what an “event” can be – and why they do matter.  Even the 30-person boxed lunch meeting can be dazzling if the content is presented in a manner that it can be best received, the food if appropriate to the setting (pro-tip: no crackling chip bags!), and your attendees walk out feeling different – and better – than they did walking in.  That’s why events matter.  They have the power to collectively spur perception shifts.  And whether your goal is education, marketing, internal communications, or fundraising, you need every person that walks into your event to walk out thinking, “Wow.  That mattered.  My time was spent well here,” (reason #3 – and the most important – to value your event professionals)!