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  • Writer's pictureJane

How do you start an event strategy?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Part 1

Back in the summer of 2021, live events were starting to make a come back after the craziness of 2020 and I ran a training session called The Big Events Reset. It was created to encourage event managers and heads to take a fresh approach to events and not just revert back to 2019 ways of doing things, especially where the 2019 ways of doing things were not working, which in many charities I spoke to and worked with was the case.

The worksheet I created to accompany the training was full of helpful steps about how to approach an events strategy or plan, especially if you feel like you want to do things a bit differently but aren't sure how to or where to begin.

If you've been tasked with creating a strategic event plan or its your responsibility to write your programme for next year and are unsure where to start, this may help!

OK first things first:

Assess where you are at right now. This is so important. And an often overlooked step because it's tempting to start thinking big and looking ahead and getting excited by new shiny things. Looking backwards might not excite you so much. You might feel a bit bogged down by it especially if things didn't perform how you'd hoped. And it also might require some investigative work, especially if you're new in post or if your role is new or if things haven't been recorded on a database or there isn't a historic plan to look at. It doesn't need to be a really drawn out process but it is an important one. Do what you can. These questions might help:

  1. What did you raise last year from your events?

  2. What did you spend last year on your events?

  3. How many people took part in your events last year?

  4. How many events did you run?

  5. Are there any patterns or breakthroughs you can deduce when you look at the figures? eg. You made 2/3 of your income from an event that only cost £100 to put on. Your biggest fundraising event was on the back of a corporate partnership. Two major donors recruited 20 of your participants... etc etc... Jot down any surprises or light bulb moments.

Now this is where things get a bit interesting and veer off from how you may have done things in the past. Bear with me. There is an important lesson here I promise!

It's time to Declutter. We all hold beliefs and perspectives on things and you or your team's beliefs about your events will impact your planning. So spend a little time thinking about what beliefs are holding you back. Because the more we can 'out' these hidden little thoughts that might be impacting how you approach your plans, the better. And once we clear out some of those unhelpful beliefs,we create new space for fresh, innovative and creative ways of reaching our goals.

OK, so ask yourself: What beliefs am I holding on to that may be holding me / my team back from reaching our goals?

I know this might be a bit new but have a go. These common belief examples might help:

  • No one wants to do our events / no one is signing up to events

  • I'm the only event fundraiser and if we offer more, I'll have to work longer hours

  • Raising money is really hard

Jot down as many as you can think of. You could even ask your team (if you have a team) what some of theirs are. There's no shame attached to any of this, we're just trying to shine a light on some of the stuff that often stays hidden but takes up precious brain space and will keep playing on repeat until you interrogate it a little.

So that's the next step. You're going to look through your list and gently ask yourself if what you've written is universally and ultimately true. Pick holes in your beliefs (kindly and compassionately). For example:

  • No one is signing up to events

Hmmm, is that true for everyone? If no one is signing up to events, none of those big corporate festivals or concerts would be operating, so and so charity wouldn't have 50 people doing a bike ride for them, we wouldn't have 3 people doing the 3 peaks for us next month. So is no one signing up to events the ultimate truth? No.


If we offer more events, I'll have to work longer hours

Huh, that's an interesting belief. Is it ultimately true or is there another way I could view this? Perhaps if we offer more events and they're really successful I could create a case for more support. Maybe I could ask if Valerie could work on the events for a day a week, or perhaps I could get a temp. Maybe, if we offer a variety of activity, some of what we've always done will naturally fall away and we can replace it with different events that more people want to sign up to.

Make sense?

Go easy on yourself. None of this is finger pointing or blaming anyone for anything. We're just creating headspace for new, fabulous, innovative and creative ideas to appear. ✨

In part 2; which you can read here, we're going to look at Consequences, Goals, Time-frames and pulling it altogether.

PS. If you'd like bespoke support building your event plans, creating a new strategy and taking intentional inspired action forwards, take a look at the 1 to 1 support I offer and book in a discovery call. I've been working on events for 23 years and helping fundraisers work through their limiting beliefs to make great strides forwards in achieving their goals and career aspirations.

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