Your fundraising team has an idea for a great new event. A preliminary plan has already been developed. Your next step is to choose a date. Rather than going with the first Saturday in May, take some time to choose the right date for your event.
How Important Is the Date?
The date of your event is definitely an important factor to consider when making plans. If you go through all of the efforts of coordinating something amazing, you want to be sure that people will actually be there for the event.
There may always be something beyond your control. However, if you take a few potential conflicts into consideration before you send out those save the dates, your stress and the associated headache may be diminished or disappear altogether.
The best event planners have an ear out for what is happening locally. It is important to know what is on the community’s calendar as well as that of your agency. Unless you are absolutely 200% positive that people will choose your event given a conflict, it is best to choose a date that you can call your own. Below are some competing activities to consider:
- Other fundraising events – If you collaborate or share sponsors with other organizations, it may be wise to avoid scheduling events during the same timeframe. Reach out to other nonprofits, review community calendars, and ask board members about local events that may potentially conflict with yours.
- Popular Festivals – If there is an event that is very popular in your area, you may want to reconsider planning something on the same date. Not only do these events draw crowds, but they may dip into local pools of volunteers, fill up local hotels, and cause backed-up traffic — all things which may impact the success of your event.
- Big days for sports — Superbowl Sunday is the one big day for sports that most would agree is a no-go for trying to host an event. However, high school and college football may draw crowds and detract from your attendance. Similarly, weekday sports for children like little league baseball and soccer draw in both parents and grandparents.
- Holidays — Every community is different. An annual 4th of July fundraiser or a Halloween pub crawl may be great fundraisers for groups that cater to “thirty-somethings.” However, a Black Friday event may not be well attended anywhere. Certain holidays are special for families or for people of certain faiths. Remember to keep these things in mind as you plan your event.
- Graduations / Local Activities – If you live in a city with a University/College be aware of their schedule for major events. This goes double if your town has a big celebration or activity that will limit transportation options for your event.
Is your preferred venue available on your selected date? Popular venues may be used for everything from weddings to fundraisers to trainings. If your date is not flexible, consider more than one location for your event.
Putting on an event requires coordination with staff, board members, sponsors, entertainment, caterers, and more. As you select potential dates, communicate with key players to be sure that they are available to assist with planning as well as on the day of the event.
Some people keep The Farmer’s Almanac handy when they are planning special events. There may be specific times of the year when a fundraiser is likely to be threatened by inclement weather. If you live in an area that is prone to cyclic weather activity such as hurricanes, blizzards, heat, etc., be sure to have a back-up plan just in case.
Choosing the right date for your event is important. Be sure to determine the pros and cons of your potential dates. The right mix of people, location, and time will all contribute to the success of your next event.