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Key Concepts for Special Events

Special events can help your organization:

  • raise funds 
  • raise awareness
  • recruit volunteers
  • make connections with the business sector 
  • gain media exposure
  • reach out to people who may not otherwise be involved with your organization

It can be tempting to plan an event solely to raise much-needed funds, but your event will be stronger if it has multiple goals.  For example, raise funds and introduce community members to a new program in their neighborhood and recruit new volunteers for said program. 


What should I keep in mind when planning a special event?

Have a backup plan: You can’t guarantee the weather will cooperate or that there won’t be a power outage. Consider what could go wrong and create contingency plans. For example, decide on a rain date ahead of time and find out where you can get a power generator.

Carry event insurance: With more people involved, events have greater liability.  Check with your organization’s insurance provider to find out if you need additional coverage for the day of the event. 

Get In-kind donations/sponsorships: Not all sponsorships need to be monetary.  If you are planning to serve refreshments, ask local grocery stores and restaurants to donate drinks and food. Sometimes, it’s easier to get in-kind donations, because local businesses are able to promote their products while supporting your event.  

Create a paper program: Give everyone an outline of event day and:

  • thank donors by including their names and logos 
  • include information about your organization 
  • state the need for volunteers

Use volunteer support before and during the event:  

  • Create a diverse volunteer committee to plan and take on event preparation tasks. 
  • Make sure you have enough volunteers on the day of the event. Decide how many volunteers you will need and then increase that number a bit.  Some volunteers won’t show up for their scheduled shifts. 

Make sure you have required permits during your event: Ask city/county/state staff if your event will require any permits.  For example, check with the city if there will be a lot of people flooding the streets during your event….and make sure you have a permit if you will hold a raffle during your event.


Resources from Kym Leibham's session "Event Planning - Achieving Maximum Impact & Profit:

Event Evaluation Spreadsheet

Event Timeline Template

Event Volunteer Job Descriptions

Event Planning Achieving Maximum Impact & Profit Handout