What’s the secret for fund-raising and event success? It’s not a magic spell, but a simple ten-step program. Whether you are preparing a proposal for funding, or planning an event, the same ten steps can spell success.
The “thought equity” you put into planning will take about 75 per cent of the time needed to develop a bright idea for securing funders, or for an exciting event, into a success. When the proposal for funding is completed, or the business plan for the event is set, you move on to further action.
Step 1. Mission Statement. Whether the need is to raise funds, educate members, showcase products and services, or raise awareness of the organization and its cause, the first step is the same. Planning begins in the boardroom, with a professional coordinator and a knowledgeable organizing committee who share a vision. Start the teamwork with a review of the organization’s mission statement, to get direction and purpose.
Step. 2. Decide key results. State your goals in general terms and list objectives much more specifically. Make sure that the objectives are realistic, achievable, and measurable, and that they correspond with economic realities.
Step 3. Develop a “critical path”. This tool is the sequence of steps and time lines that help you and your team monitor all activities and ensure that deadlines will be met.
Step 4. Set policies and procedures. Include the administration policies and procedures in your plan, and how each minute detail will be identified, addressed, handled, and monitored. Widely used tools are the development of an agenda, meeting notes and a listing of action items (designated by specific committee members to carry out). Also, if committee chairs are unable to a planning meeting, remind them to prepare a written report prior to the meeting to be read out on their behalf. All completed action should be entered into the critical path.
Step 5. Define responsibilities. Who will ensure the ultimate success of the event? Create an organizational chart, which indicates the leadership and management personnel involved. It includes the reporting structure for committee, staff and volunteers. Develop “roles and responsibilities” profiles for each person shown on the chart.
Step 6. Identify logistics. Begin program development for your event by identifying the logistics such as venue selection, food and beverages, entertainment, accommodations, facilitators, security needs, transportation, audio visual, photography and so on. Your funding proposal should include a statement about organization capability.
Step 7. Plan the finances. This is the most crucial step. Stakeholders – partners, sponsors, donors, financial institutions, participants, and volunteers – need assurance. They need confidence that financial projections are monitored daily and that positive reaction is made to ensuing changes.
Step 8. Set a contingency plan. Assess the risks involved in the delivery of the event. Once an analysis and the height of risk has been identified, then create the contingency plan - the “what if” scenarios. This plan is the alternative arrangement to be used in the event that projections or plans are not met for any reason.
Step 9. Develop a marketing plan. With the event program and budget now set, work out a marketing plan. This plan outlines the paid advertising, public relations and promotional strategies that the team will use to target its market.
Step 10. Plan for evaluation. Decide on the evaluation methods to be used in assessing the event or program’s success. Communicating evaluation plans to stakeholders builds their confidence in your organization. Objective evaluation will show what changes should be made to make future similar programs more successful.
In taking the time to do solid planning for funding proposals, and for programs, your team sets a clear direction and accountability process for itself. Your plan sells not only your program, but also your organization as a quality institution.
by Shirley Tillett, TCM-EVM