Lessons in Event Planning

For the last several months, my time has been consumed largely by planning DHC’s two biggest fundraisers. This includes a luminary fundraiser around the holidays and a soup tasting fundraiser right before the Super Bowl. At times, there seemed to be a lot of pressure; botching an event could reflect negatively on the organization or convince people not to participate next year. I made mistakes along the way, but I also learned so much, from enthusiastic volunteers, knowledgeable board members, and kind co-workers.

Below are some of the lessons I learned from planning fundraisers (disclaimer: I am by no means a professional, but speak from my own experiences):

-There are things beyond your control, some of which will go wrong. With these fundraisers we had last minute issues with electrical outlets, the amount of supplies and the beyond-our-control weather. After the fact, I learned that these things weren’t the catastrophes that they seemed to be in the moment and that panicking didn’t help the situation.

-Don’t stress about the little things (also see above)- It is alright if a mistake was made on the promotional materials or if you receive a piece of constructive criticism about the event logistics. In the grand scheme of the fundraiser, these set-backs don’t matter that much.

-Delegate tasks- I am 100% guilty of the mantra “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Unfortunately for me, this can mean a very heavy workload and more stress (albeit self-imposed). With these fundraisers, I quickly learned that I could not do everything. I have been extremely fortunate to work with very dependable and organized people. I have also learned that it is important to be very clear about the role that volunteers will be responsible for to ensure that expectations are met.

-Be kind to yourself and others- I believe that it is very important not to be too hard on yourself; we all make mistakes because we are human and the best part is that we can learn from them. I have also found it very important to be kind to others. Even when you are stressed and everything is going wrong, it is worth the extra effort to be kind and polite to those around you. People probably won’t remember the mistake on the program but they are more likely to remember how you treat others.

After the months of planning and hundreds of e-mails, with a sigh of relief I was able to enjoy myself at both events. I was grateful that nothing major went wrong; luminaries were distributed and lit and over 180 gallons of soup was eaten. I was amazed by and grateful for the community’s support of these events. The big fundraisers are over and now I will have more time to work on grants and other projects. I hope to continue to learn and be challenged in my work here at DHC, no matter what I am doing.