We know nonprofits run a pretty tight ship. It is not uncommon to find only one or two payroll employees behind the wheel of a small entity. Some nonprofits can carve out an additional employee with the title, “event and community relations manager.” In either case, the number one response to the suggestion to hire a professional event planner to manage a large-scale event is: “We can’t afford more expenditures, or we are already paying someone to do all the work for our events.”
I get it. But have you really thought through this response, or are you treating the suggestion to hire a professional like a telemarketer? Meaning you heard hire, your eyes saw dollar signs and you hung up mentally and maybe even physically.
Hear me out for a minute, as I can probably save you money and the priceless addition of your employee’s sanity.
Planning a large-scale fundraising event is A LOT of work; especially creating a successful one. I will assume the employees your organization has already hired have a larger job description than solely planning your annual event. They probably have a whole laundry list of daily tasks to keep your doors open and your services offered. Asking them to simultaneously plan your annual event has just basically impacted your organization in one of two ways. One they LOVE event planning and neglect their day to day responsibilities because it’s just not as fun. Or two, they try their best to juggle both tasks simultaneously which increases their overtime, decreases their morale, and in turn affects attention to detail on both assignments.
If you tracked the number of hours your team spends collectively planning and executing an event and translated that into an hourly rate; I think you would be shocked. There are too many variables that your team is just not prepared or equipped for. The next thing you know they spent days on a task a professional would have needed a few hours to complete.
Consider this: Could a chef run every aspect of their restaurant? Sure. But would they? Of course not! It would be a poor use of their time, deflate the quality of the food and create negative reviews from patrons. Instead they stick to the kitchen where they shine the brightest. The same can be said true about planning an event. Can your team accomplish it? Sure. But should they? Probably not. Instead their focus should be on your organization’s mission and their energy should be channeled towards marketing, promotion and sponsorship sales. There is no one better to tug at the heartstrings of potential sponsors and create excitement for ticket sales than someone who truly has a passion for your cause. If done effectively, there is major amounts of money to be made here; which would easily pay above and beyond for a professional event planner. Set your team up for success so that they have adequate time to do their tasks well, otherwise they may sell themselves short both literally and figuratively.
In the end, the focus should always be on producing a quality, profitable event.
Look at the bottom line and be realistic with what the team can effectively and successfully accomplish. Be honest about the weaknesses and seek help! Everyone knows the adage you must spend money to make money. I also believe sometimes in the long run, you must spend money to save money too, and more importantly spare your sanity!