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We're back with the final post in our ‘Fundraising with Edco' series! In our posts so far, we've gone through how to build your brand, how to build and communicate with your support network, and how to secure local business sponsorships. Now it's time to wrap up all that we've learned with "How to Host a Great Community Event." In this post, we've broken it up into 2 parts: why to host an event and how to host an event.
Why host an event?
Events are a great way to bring together all the fundraising tips that we've hit on in previous posts - developing your core message and voice, building and communicating with a support network, and gaining local business sponsorship. Invite people to learn about your band and celebrate your hard work. With the right planning, you can show off your band, build personal connections with your supporters, involve local businesses, and take your fundraising efforts to the next level.
How to host an event
Now this is where things can get a little tricky if you're not careful. To help make things easier, we're going to break out the process into what you should do before, during and after the event.
1. Determine your purpose: The first thing you need to determine when planning an event is: why are you asking people to come out and support you? Do you want to give a mini-concert to preview the season? Or, if you're not performance-ready, you could host a band "meet-and-greet" where supporters can ask students about their instruments and how long they've been playing. Regardless of what your purpose is, make sure it is compelling enough to draw the attention it needs!
2. Outline your logistics: The next step in event planning is the most technical: the event logistics. Where will your event be held? To keep the event affordable, we recommend hosting your event at your school. If you decide to serve snacks, reach out your parent volunteers for contributions, or ask for an in-kind donation from a local restaurant. This is a great opportunity to get local business sponsorship, by taking advantage of the free press that your event offers to businesses! The same goes for other materials you might need, like tables or balloons. Make sure to sit down and plan out the:
- Location (school, church, business event space)
- Timing (weekday evening, weekend afternoon)
- Food (parent contributions, in-kind donations, no food)
- Ticket price (free, student vs adult pricing, no ticket needed)
- Materials to obtain (tables, volunteer hours, loudspeakers)
- Materials to buy (balloons, napkins)
3. Set goals: Ask yourself: what does success mean to you? Whether it's having a large number of attendees, raising a certain amount of money, or increasing the number of likes on your Facebook page, make sure to write a goal to hit ahead of the event. And more importantly – make sure to find a way to compare your before/after numbers!
4. Publicize: Once you've determined your logistics and goals, you'll need to promote your event! Give yourself at least 3 weeks to get the word out to ensure enough attendance. And get the whole band involved in advertising. Some surefire ways of promotion could include: social media, encouraging parents to email their networks, posting flyers up in community spaces, and personally inviting local business owners.
1. Collect contact information: During the event, make sure you find a way to keep in touch with anyone who attends. Include a sign-up sheet at the entrance and ask attendees to write down their name and email address. If someone takes the time to attend your event, they'll likely be interested in hearing more about your band in the future.
2. Record your event: Not only can you inspire engagement with those who are physically attending, but you can also use your event to connect with other supporters online both during and afterwards. Capture the event through pictures and if applicable, recordings, that you can share later through social media like YouTube or in a newsletter.
3. Stay aware: More likely than not, something will not go as planned. Make sure to keep an eye out to spot any hiccups early, and nip them in the bud.
1. Say thank you: Send a personal thank you note to any business or volunteer that helped make your event possible. They'll appreciate the gesture, and it will make them more likely to help contribute to your band's success again in the future.
2. Keep in touch: Use the contact information you collected during the event to send a follow-up note to all event attendees. In your email, make sure to include pictures and highlights of the event. If you collected money during your event, thank your supporters for contributing to your band's success. If you did not, use this as an opportunity to ask for financial support for your band. By now, your supporters will be so impressed with your band they'll want to contribute to its success in the future!
3. Evaluate: After the event, take the time to sit down and examine its success. Did you hit your pre-event goals? Complete a post-event write up noting what could be improved, what went right, and overall evaluation. This documentation will help you in future event-planning figure out what should change for the next time.
4. Celebrate! You did it! Hosting an event is no small feat. Make sure to give yourself the credit you deserve as band director, and recognize the good you're doing for all your students.
With that, we end our Edco Fundraising series. We hope that these posts have been helpful to you in your band fundraising. If you have any feedback for us, or if you want help from one of our amazing fundraising coaches, reach out to us at email@example.com or at 646.798.8183. Good luck!