Building and Maintaining A Community-Business Partnership Memory

In organising a successful function your partnership has built up a terrific store of knowledge that can be used as the basis for running your next event or the same event next year.

But so much effort goes into organising the event that people often forget to record the details of what made its so successful. That knowledge can also be lost if it resides with just one person who then leaves the organisation.

Record Keeping

You should plan and then establish a workable record-keeping system at the same time as you are beginning to plan your event.

All the things you have learnt and the contacts you have made during the planning and implementation of this event can help you make your next event easier to organise and more successful.

Here is a list of files you may want to set up as part of your event record-keeping:

  • Management committee and sub-committee contact lists, copies of meeting agendas, minutes and correspondence
  • Volunteer lists and communications
  • Sponsor lists, correspondence and contracts (if appropriate)
  • Budget papers, including receipts and accounts
  • Venue details and agreements
  • Copies of all printed materials, programs, invitations, programs, letterhead, posters and prices
  • Speeches
  • Supplier listings (business cards, quotations and contracts for all)
  • Media releases and copies of subsequent media exposure
  • Advertising copy and prices
  • Biographies and contact details of presenters, speakers and entertainers and costs associated with each one
  • Timeline of activities (annotated to indicate what worked and what didn't)
  • Catering details
  • Audiovisual/staging requirements
  • Risk management analysis
  • Permits and licenses
  • Reports to your partnership drivers or project management committee

Photography

  • Use a camera to document the final planning stages before an event
  • Also take some photos on the day of the event
  • This serves a number of purposes – the photos are good for your own information, for your archives and to use as publicity shots for future events and general public relations material for your organisation.
  • Remember though to budget for and organise a professional photographer on the day if you wish to use the results in more professional publications in the future.

After the Event

About a week after the event, hold a debriefing session with key contractors and staff to go through details of all aspects of the event. Write down successes, as well as areas in which there could be improvement.

This document will inform your final report to your partnership board and supporters, and should include answers to questions like:
  • “What were the original goals?”
  • “Were they achieved?”
  • “What new strategies were used?”
  • “Did they work?”
  • “What were the major successes?”
  • “What were the failures?” and
  • “What suggestions do we have for a similar event in the future?”

Succession planning

Losing a key partnership driver can damage your organisation’s ability to function within the partnership because they may be the person who knows where the database is, organised the major event or whose knowledge of how everything works is carried around in their own head. To avoid this:

Make sure your group documents partnership information, including:
  • Databases and contact books.
  • Planning documents for past, present and future major events.
  • Any minutes or records of meetings or partnership proposals.
  • Information stored on computer – including contact lists, file names and details, the contents of computer discs, etc.
Anything of interest or significance to the partnership should be documented as it is the organisation's long-term memory.
  • Ensure that information or procedures relating to your partnership are created and turned over if someone decides to leave.
  • Make sure your group is up-to-date with important information related to the running of the partnership, and make sure copies or back-ups of that information are kept in a safe place.
Make sure you allow enough time for “hand-over” or “training” sessions between the departing staff-member and remaining or new staff. (For more information on changing or refreshing your personnel, refer to the Help Sheets Passing the Baton and Finding and Appointing a Deputy, both available at the Community Business Partnerships Brokerage Service section of the Our Community website)

Remember, effective organisations are those that recognise the knowledge is "owned" by the entire group and not just by the individual. It is terribly unproductive to keep on making the same mistakes each year because coherent records were not kept.

Keeping a strong corporate memory helps groups and partnerships in their abilty to build on their successes year by year through constantly learning and refining processes and contacts.