As with any organized event, it’s imperative to give yourself a timely to-do list to set yourself up for success. As is the case with organizing an animal shelter event! If done properly, executing an animal shelter event can be a total blast! Below are some tips that will not only help you start off on the right foot, but will help to maintain your sanity in the planning process. We implemented these rules while planning for Best In Show Fest, and we firmly believe these tricks and tactics can help any animal welfare nonprofit have the most successful event ever!
1. Determine your timeline.
If you’re planning a large-scale event (up to 1k people or more) make sure you map out a timeline at least 8 months in advance (12 if you’ve got that kind of lead time!). Reason being, venues and key sponsors often need a huge notice before booking time or money out. Anything smaller can be mapped out 6 months in advance, and final details leading up to the week-of!
2. Identify your goals.
Are you raising funds? Do you want all the animals in the shelter to find furrrever homes? Think ‘em up, write ‘em out, and come up with an actionable plan to achieve those goals.
3. Develop your “hook”.
Why is this event cool? Why should people come? Think of the big idea that will get people pumped to attend.
4. Rally your teams.
Delegate roles and responsibilities to folks within your planning committees. Assign a person to the main areas of event planning: marketing/promotions, communications, donor and sponsorship cultivation, volunteer coordination, and event logistics.
5. Gear up for effective cross-promotion.
You will be dedicating a lot of time to asking people to partner with you, support you with monetary or in-kind donations, or help get the word out. Cross-promotion is by far the best way to develop good working relationships for now and future events, as well as optimize buzz-building for your event! A “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” mentality works wonders for nonprofits. This can include reciprocated social media mentions, contributed blog content, inclusion in press releases, and tons more depending on the goal!
6. A social media strategy is key.
Social media seems to always be the first thing to slide when things start piling up - don’t let it happen! It’s the easiest and fastest way to get in front of your key attendees. Outline your plan early on and be as detailed as possible. Use Excel or Google Sheets to curate and create daily content, and include exact copy for posts, shortened links, and/or photos when necessary.
7. Create communication templates.
For anyone who is helping you raise money, this makes it super easy for them to share with others on numerous platforms. You can’t forget that everyone is busy in their everyday lives, so by pre-determining their conversation copy you are increasing the chances of them actually executing on the ask!
8. Get visual!
Photos, videos and elaborate storytelling are very powerful tools when promoting your event. Don’t be afraid to tap resources on your committees for creative help.
9. Decide how you’ll showcase your fundraisers.
Giving social shout outs to your fundraisers along the way is a sweet way to keep up momentum and encourage a little competition within the philanthropic community - but creating a tiered sponsorship package will serve you well. Having your top fundraiser share the digital podium with the lowest sponsor isn’t really worth their time, you know?
10. Stay consistent!
As you get in the thick of event planning, it’s easy to delegate branding, messaging, and promotional duties out to any warm body. Develop a branding suite with pre-selected colors, fonts, logos, and key messages that anyone can pull from and follow - no matter where you are in the planning process. This is especially important as you try to create brand awareness for first, second, and third year events.
Despite all of this - remember the reason why you wanted to put launch this event in the first place - you have a wild, unabashed passion for animals! Let that passion drive your planning and success will certainly follow.
Happy event planning!