LEATHER WISDOM: Event Planning Considerations by Ms. Navia

Creating any gathering is not as easy as people may believe. Any well-thought-out successful event has been in the planning phases for at least 4 months and sometimes over one year. Whether planning a small fundraiser or a large multi day conference, well-thought-out details, carefully designed advertising, and creative promotion of word-of-mouth buzz will help it reach its full potential. Months of planning goes into preparations; and although a fabulous soiree CAN be planned by one person, having a team or committee to focus on specific details is recommended to keep your sanity. 

Logistics planning is diminished with virtual events and things that don’t require either hunting for the who-what-where-how or assembling a mass audience, but it is hard to capture any audience and hold undivided attention. A small scale event can be pulled together in 30-90 days; though with last minute planning, marketing may not be as broad and attendance may be lower than expected. In-person events require hunting down a venue that has the desired date available, securing a contract, and confirming with key players before creating “save-the-date” marketing materials to publish, post, or distribute. 

Timelines are necessary in logistical planning, and it is very important to choose an event date that doesn’t conflict with other major events or holidays. Publicizing as soon as possible signals your claim to that date for other event organizers, as well as providing attendees time to plan to attend. SOME people are spontaneous but many plan their chosen events and budgets by the year. Some people budget their charitable giving the same way. Giving attendees time to decide to attend and where they want to contribute will maximize both attendee numbers and donation dollars. 

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Larger conferences that require obtaining contracts, insurance, vendors, entertainers, volunteers, and presenters can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months to coordinate depending on if it is a new event or one that is being repeated. A repeated conference has a mold in place, so decisions tend to center around what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to change about it based on past experience. It may not be necessary to hunt for a venue, vendors, or sponsors if everything worked and contracts can be easily renewed or repeated for next year.

About Fundraisers…One of the things to consider when you are planning a new fundraiser is that having a cause is great, but having a theme is key.  Engaging themes that people will find interesting, fun, or of value tie their experience to their reasons for helping. Every bake sale, raffle, or silent auction has the potential to bring in cash; but a fun, catchy theme gets the attendees in the door to donate the cash. Consider offering incentives to encourage and include donors who cannot be present as well. Pick a theme that can engage key groups in participating, and they will bring their members.  Remember, word of mouth is gold.

One caution regarding a theme: there is a tendency to go haywire planning coordinating details of that luau or dance-a-thon, but a fundraiser’s cost should NOT exceed funds raised. Yes, spending money to make money is a thing; but donations, sponsorship, and volunteers are key components of fund development, and it takes time to acquire these. Having all decorations, trinkets, and food donated means it doesn’t come out of YOUR pocket and more is claimed for the cause.  This necessitates taking several months to seek sponsors – organizations, stores, and community members –  who will donate not only money but also in-kind donations like giveaways, prizes, and food donations. Those donation requests for 10 cases of water, gift certificates, and popcorn machine rental may require store management to get approval that can take weeks to get approved, so plan ahead.

In summary, the key things to remember are to make a plan way in advance, set a timeline, find a strong team, ask for what you need from others, and have a successful event.

Ms Navia

About the Author-

Ms. Navia is a Leatherwoman in the Dallas Community. She has a strong event planning and entertaining fetish after a past career as a professional fundraising and event coordinator for several national non-profit agencies. She dabbles in event coordination for kink related events around the US.

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