Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Maximizing the Potential of Your Event Planning Committee

A great committee, the people behind GLEE: Basic Rights Oregon's 2010 Dinner & Auction.
Photo by Rosemary Ragusa

One of the strongest assets you have in ensuring a successful event is your planning committee. From coordinating volunteers to managing data entry to helping spread the word about your event, a planning committee brings with it a whole world of additional support and resources for your organization.

The most important facet of working with an event committee is a clear breakdown of responsibilities and workload. Staff should be responsible for all of the elements that affect the long-term goals of the organization (major donor/sponsor relations, messaging, budget), while the committee can focus on the elements that make your event what it is (decor, entertainment, new support).

Recruiting the right folks to be on your committee is only one part of the equation. You need a combination of people who get the job done and people who connect you to the right people. You also need people who will focus on the fundraising to make sure your event meets or exceeds its goals.

Recruit committee members based on their skill sets. If you are looking to increase the social media presence for your event, but you don't have the organizational resources to make it happen, recruit a social media savvy volunteer to be on your marketing committee.

If you need support with ticket and table sales, recruit an Honorary Committee. Honorary Committee members allow you to use their name to build recognition for the event, and agree to fill a table (or more!) for your event.

Successful committees need a dynamic and engaging Chair (or Co-Chairs). The Chair connects the organization with the committee, and streamlines all committee communications (meeting reminders, meeting minutes, etc.). This level of peer-to-peer accountability often ensures that the work gets done.

Once you have a committee in place, set up a regular meeting schedule that works for everyone and stick to it. Use that as a time for committee members to share updates and to assign new responsibilities. List new and past commitments on a white board, this visual reminder will increase individual accountability.

Committee members are great set-up volunteers, but don't have them volunteer during the event if possible. They most likely have friends that they have brought to the event, and are more helpful to you by being a part of the crowd.

Finally, remember that your event committee is there to make planning your event easier and less stressful, and to help you meet or exceed your goals. Recruiting the right people and leaders, communicating clear expectations and a meeting schedule structured on how the work is advancing, sets you up for success.

A Committee Success Story

Kudos to Portland's Q Center for recruiting a fantastic committee to help plan their annual Winter Gala Never Out of Style!

The planning committee was fantastic this year because they were dedicated and engaged supporters who were recruited to do specific tasks based on their skill sets. For example, an experienced volunteer coordinator was in charge of volunteer support all evening, and logistics experts managed event setup.

Never Out of Style was a great success for the Q Center, and went off as smoothly as possible, thanks to the talented planning committee.