The Pros and Cons of Using an Event Planner for Your Fundraising Event

Fundraising events are tricky. On one hand you want to spend the least amount of money possible because the event is for charity and you want to be a good steward of your organization’s money; on the other hand, you want to get every detail right so your donors feel confident that you’ll make good decisions with their money too.

In order to create a well-run, win-win event, many organizations turn to an event planner for help. Hiring an event planner is an important decision for an organization.

In fact, a good event planner can make a huge impact on your event by ensuring that you’re getting a good deal on renting the space from the venue, meal selection, interviewing and hiring vendors, putting together your event timeline and having an experienced hand on the controls during your event. An event planner, for all intents and purposes, makes sure everything goes off without a hitch, and, if issues arise, he or she makes sure they’re handled quickly and professionally without your guests ever knowing a problem existed.

That said, not all event planners are cut from the same cloth. Just because someone says that he or she is an event planner doesn’t mean that person has the knowledge, experience and temperament to manage your event.

Here are some pros and cons to consider to ensure you hire the best event planner for YOUR event.

Pros:

Know-How:  A good event planner knows what to do. He or she can talk the talk. This is not their first rodeo so they can help you pull off a well-run, efficient event. Good event planners have seen a lot and know a lot, so this can take huge learning curve off your plate. A good event planner is particularly useful to an organization new to the fundraising event world.

Connections:  A good event planner has a lot of connections and can help you make decisions about vendors, contractors, venues, etc.

Recommendations: A high quality event planner can make crucial recommendations to your organization, helping you know the best event timelines, providing you with templates or documents you might need, and offering guidance on event best practices. They have been exposed to many events too, so they may bring the best and latest ideas to you to consider incorporating in your event.

Polished:  Your event will be polished with an experienced event planner, giving your guests – and potential donors – confidence that you will manage their donations in a thoughtful, organized way.

Cons:

Costs:  The best event planners cost money, so if your organization is hurting for cash, the luxury of a high quality event planner may be off the table. Be wary of discount event planners. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

Conflicts of Interest:  Some event planners have referral agreements in place with other vendors. If they recommend you use a specific vendor, you don’t know if they’re recommending someone because they get a kickback or because it’s really in your event’s best interest. Ask your event planner upfront to disclose any potential conflicts of interest (good event planners will often volunteer that information before making any recommendations), and decide if each vendor recommended by your event planner is right for you based on your own due diligence.

Limited Fundraising Expertise:  Make sure your event planner has experience hosting nonprofit fundraising events. Many event planners are great for weddings, parties or corporate functions, but are out of their depth when it comes to nonprofit fundraisers. Make sure your event planner is an expert at nonprofit fundraising events. Of course, our in-house fundraising consultants are always ready to lend a hand in helping you select a good event planner and/or to help you optimize your event to raise as much money as possible.

Communications:  Just because you hire an event planner doesn’t mean you get to delegate all vendor questions and conversations to the event planner. A good event planner will supplement communications to ensure the event organizer isn’t overwhelmed, but he or she will also encourage open and free communications between all parties at all times.

Overall, the best advice is to make sure you work with a good quality event planner experienced in fundraising and who comes highly recommended. Check referrals and do your own due diligence before investing in this important piece of your fundraising event pie. A good event planner will ensure you benefit from all the pros while minimizing the cons.

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