How to Create Successful Branded Nonprofit Events

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Part One: Asking the Right Questions
October 22, 2013

First of two posts


When a nonprofit organization approaches an event planner to produce its event, the principals have one or more objectives in mind. To create a successful event for this client, it is imperative that you not only to identify these objectives but prioritize them.

• Fundraising – Is fundraising a key factor in the decision to create this event? If so, what is the organization’s anticipated net revenue? Is this a realistic goal for them given their donor base, past event performance history and the current economic climate in your region?

• Motivation and Inspiration – Is the organization hoping to better connect with and inspire its constituents? Does the nonprofit want to educate attendees about its future plans? Are they hoping to reinvigorate giving among existing donors through event-generated inspiration?

• Friend-raising – Is the nonprofit looking to form long-lasting relationships with new potential donors and supporters?

• Organizational Brand Awareness – Does it want to educate the broader community about the organization?

• Gala Experience – Does it want to wow attendees with a memorable experience that is buzz-worthy? Is it looking to earn a place on the annual social calendar as a “must attend” event?


Once the organization’s event objectives have been established, get a clear sense of what your budgetary parameters are, who your audience is going to be, where the event is going to be held and why guests are going to want to come. Here are some questions to ask in order to get those answers:

• Who are you targeting as the attendees of this event? Who will your committee be? Who will help you to fill the room?
• What will your target audience connect with in terms of style and theme?
• How much will guests pay to attend? What will the sponsorship levels be for major donors and what are the incentives for their participation at higher monetary levels? Do the numbers make sense in relation to the expenses? Are these numbers realistic for the intended demographic?
• Where will the event take place? Is it convenient, interesting, unique, functional, beautiful, and comfortable?
• When will the event be held so that you are not directly competing with other major happenings in your region on the same date (or same weekend)?
• Why will people want to attend? What is special, unique or compelling about the event that you have created? How does it connect to the organization for which it’s being created?

In my next post, I’ll talk about the branding actions you can take based once you have outlined all objectives and have all the parameters of the event in place.

eNews October 2013


Merryl Brown

Merryl Brown is an award-winning event designer and owner of Merryl Brown Events, specializing in elegant corporate events, nonprofit events, social events and weddings.

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