Special Events and your Partnership – A Quick Guide

At some stage during your community business partnership, there will be a need for you to organise a special event – to raise money or awareness, achieve some goals or work with your partner to get something done in the community.

For some partnerships, the task will be to create an event from the ground up, trying to build them into events that can make money and build support. For others, it may be a case of taking time to review ongoing annual special events and working out what measures can be taken to ensure the “special” remains in them – is there a need for a revamp or a “freshening up” of the event, for example?

Special events are similar to any other type of fundraising or partnership activity – if you don’t constantly review them and move with the times, eventually they become tired and their effectiveness in attracting money, support, volunteers, participants, whatever, decreases.

This is where planning that special event comes to the fore – in fact, the success of many a special event, be they community business partnership activities or otherwise, can be traced back to its planning stages.

Seven Sets of Questions to Ask

In planning for that special event, partnership partners can ask themselves the following questions:

  • Why are we holding the event?
    • Is the event specifically to raise money, awareness, or membership? Is it to celebrate a certain event or bring people into the town or region? Or is it a mix of all of these?
    • Be clear about why you are holding an event and the expected outcomes.
  • When are we holding the event?
    • A common mistake is to set a date and then discover a similar event competing for the same audience.
    • Timing is crucial. Research dates for local/regional/state and national events that might compete with yours. It will give you the chance to either work in with other events to provide a “double attraction” or avoid clashing with them altogether.
  • Who do we want as the main or target audience?
    • It is important to know exactly who you want to attend your partnership event if it is one where attendance from the general public or partnership members is necessary (for example, a seminar or working bee).
      • If attracting outside attendance is the aim, be realistic about who is most likely to attend and how you can best market the event to these people.
      • If your target is to attract partnership members to help out (particularly through volunteering), make sure they know where to go and what they are doing. For more information, refer to the Volunteering and Your Partnership Help Sheets at the Our Community website.
  • Where are we going to hold the event?
    • Whether your partnership is organising a conference, trivia night, raffle, auction or seminar, it is important to select the right venue that matches your expected audience.
    • You don’t want to be paying for a venue that you are not going to fill.
  • How can we create greater value from the event?
    • The phrase “value-adding” is the key here. If your event is going to attract an outside audience, what other ways are there where you can raise money?
    • For example – can attendees volunteer for membership or add their name to mailing lists? Can they purchase merchandise, sponsorships, or place a bid as part of an extra raffle or auction?
  • Can other groups benefit?
    • Your partnership is already a team effort, but partners should ask themselves if they can work with other groups to make the event bigger, brighter or better.
    • A good collaborative approach may well result in more resources, more people, more ideas and – hopefully – better results for all.
  • How can we save money?
    • Organising a successful partnership event is great, but organizing one for half the cost is even better.
    • Think about ways to save money like sponsorship, the in-kind provision of goods or services or donations that could save money.