How to Determine Whether to Host an Event

SD Film Festival 2012-19
Vito Di Stefano

Is doing an event the right idea for you?

Deciding to do an event doesn’t have to be a complicated process. But it seems once an organization starts talking about it, things tend to snowball and the end results can be disappointing. There are many tools and providers available to help with every aspect of the event but the decision to do it or not has to come down to the organization.

Here's some questions to ask yourself to simplify the thought process:

What is the goal of the event?

Does it meet your organization’s mission or serve your clients? If not, stop here! Often the event committee can get focused on the event, rather than why it is being done. When this happens, afterwards, people are not typically happy with the results. No matter how much fun an event sounds, don’t proceed if it doesn’t meet your goals. Making it fit does not make sense.

What's the organization’s tolerance for risk?

Events cost money, and usually more money than is originally thought. If an organization cannot afford to lose money on an event, it needs to carefully decide if now is the right time to hold that event.

Budget, and be realistic!

Most events do not make a profit their first year. Carefully estimate costs and add at least 10 percent to that figure. An accurate budget is critical.

Outsourcing: the right move?

It is important to understand your organization’s capacity to handle an event. Do you have the right people with the right skills and do they have the time to focus on the event. While it may seem more cost effective to do it in house, if the experience or time is not available, your event won’t succeed.

Selecting the right vendor is essential.

The vendor should understand and be able to articulate back to you the vision and goals for the event. Meet with two or three vendors in person. Research previous events they have done and talk to at least three references. Ask how the process will work, who will be in charge of what, how does the fee structure work down to the last dollar. State needs and expectations as specifically as possible and make sure they are noted in the contract if it is decided to move forward.

Events can be an excellent way to raise funds and foster collaboration among a team, but they are hard work. Doing leg work at the beginning of the project will reduce surprises along the way and set the event up for the best possible chance of success. 

Melissa Flynn is passionate about her community and passionate about her job as the executive director for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. For the past seven years she has been creating a sense of place that has helped to transform the Lincoln Square community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. Under her leadership in 2011, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce achieved the highly coveted three-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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