Seeking Something New
Before we know it the fall event season will be winding down, the holidays will be upon us, and we’ll be embarking on a new calendar year. Those of you who know me well know that I love experiencing new things, and as part of my planning for 2017, I’m mapping out new opportunities both personally and professionally.
A goal for 2017 is to train for and complete my first triathlon which will involve swimming laps for the first time since I was a kid. Assuming I become a decent swimmer, I plan to train for a full Ironman in 2018.
Each year, the Ann Plans team is excited and blessed to help both new and existing clients create first-time events. The focus of this newsletter is how to plan a new event that not only meets, but exceeds expectations.
How to Shine with a First-Time Event
With any new event, we believe the goal should be to knock it out of the park by making it a great event. Here are best practices to consider when embarking on the creation of a first-time event.
- Start early! Determining the format of your new event, brainstorming a name and theme, finding the right location, and creating marketing and sponsorship materials are just some of the many steps in formulating an event template that take more time than most people expect. As a rule of thumb, we recommend a planning timeline of at least 6-9 months.
- Begin with clarity. Before diving into nitty gritty planning, be sure the desired outcomes of the event are clearly articulated. In partnering with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation on two new events this year, the planning team was strategic in identifying the main goals and target audiences before naming the events and creating the detailed plans for Wilder Block Party 2016 and Ordinary Magic (a signature fundraising event).
- The details matter. One of the greatest compliments you can receive on an inaugural event is, “The event was so well organized. It didn’t feel like a first-time event.” Be intentional about every detail that will contribute to a seamless guest experience.
- Leverage a milestone to begin an annual event. We began working with Midwest Special Services (MSS) in 2014 when the organization decided to launch an annual fundraising event in conjunction with a celebration of their 65thanniversary. MSS’ third annual Celebrate! event took place last month, and each year the eventcontinues to grow in attendance and revenue.
- Get others on board! The success of any event depends on the involvement of many people. Involve your staff, Board members, donors and other stakeholders in determining the right format and vibe for your event. Invest energy in forming an event committee of committed and well-connected people to participate in shaping the event, doing some of the legwork, and helping ensure strong attendance.
- Make it memorable. Whatever you decide to incorporate into your guest experience, make sure you are able to execute all components well with a goal of exceeding expectations. Creating a buzz in year one is guaranteed to create momentum for your event in year two.
- Debrief and celebrate. Collect as much feedback as possible through a guest survey and debrief meetings with your staff, Board members, event committee, and vendors. And, be sure to celebrate and build on your successes!
Welcome Aboard to The Nature Conservancy!
Ann Plans is excited to be partnering for the first time with the Minnesota chapter of The Nature Conservancy on the Green Tie Affair. Planning is well underway for the Thursday, April 6, 2017fundraising event which will take place at The Depot in Minneapolis. The evening will include a strolling dinner, green tie contest, and a keynote by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. The Nature Conservancy is the world’s largest conservation organization with a mission of conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Henry Ford said that, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” May all your beginnings be filled with the excitement and excellence every new adventure deserves!