• Nonprofit Learning Lab

Event Planning Tips for a Stress Free Event



We host 100+ events a year and we wanted to share with you some of our favorite event planning tips to ensure a seamless experience for your staff and guests.


Run of Show: Have a detailed “run of show” which is basically an itemized timeline of when everything is going to happen, what is going to happen and who is in charge of the “what” is happening. A run of show helps staff and volunteers be more organized and creates a more seamless experience for your guests since staff are more focused. It doesn’t need to be a fancy template – a spreadsheet works perfectly!


Arrive Earlier: Setting up always takes longer than you think, so arriving earlier gives you more time to be prepared. Arrival time to a venue needs to arrange in advance with venue staff so make sure to give yourself more time on the venue contract than you think is needed. And set up time depends on the intricate details of your event. The more components to your event - the more time you will need to set up.


Clear Guidelines for Volunteers: Often nonprofits rely on volunteers to assist with events coordination. Give volunteers very clear directions and provide them with a detailed schedule and explanation of their tasks so they know where they need to be throughout the event and how to do the task. It is great to do a “volunteer huddle” in advance of the event so details are clear. Clear instructions prevent volunteers coming asking numerous questions of staff during an event when it is more chaotic with guests, donors, etc. I also like to let my volunteers know how to dress such as closed toed shoes (in case they are carrying a box of supplies) and business professional.


Be Clear about Parking: Guests are often disoriented upon arrival to an event, they may be running late from work or have gotten lost on the way. And parking is the last task they have to do before they walk into the door. Make sure to provide clear parking instructions i.e. meters, street parking, valet or pay to park lots. Include this information in all your communications to your guests so that you are not receiving last minute emails or phone calls.


Have Fun: You may feel stressed, tired or overwhelmed with all the little details going through your head but really often only you know these behind the scenes details such as the Sprite almost running out at the bar. If you are smiling, talking to guests and making them feel welcome then they are more than likely going to have a great time.


Happy Event Planning. Do you have other favorite event planning tips? Share them with us @nonprofitll and we will re-tweet them.

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