What It Takes To Become A Non-Profit Event Planner

By: Stacey Smith, owner of Smith Marketing & Events

As owner of Smith Marketing & Events, I work with a variety of clients but gain the most satisfaction when planning fundraisers for non-profit organizations. That can also be the most challenging. It takes a mixed bag of skills, guiding principles, and mental fortitude to be successful in the non-profit fundraising arena. Here are some of those I have found to be most helpful in ensuring continued success:

1. Love what you do, but more importantly, have a passion for the cause for which you are doing it.

It’s not enough for me to enjoy being a fundraiser/event planner when working with non-profit organizations. I have found that I have to truly believe in the cause for which I am doing the work. A passion for the cause gives me the courage and strength to get the job done and resonates with others, making them want to get involved too. Without a passion for the organization for which I am planning a fundraiser, when the going gets tough, I sometimes have difficulty staying positive and finding the motivation to seek solutions and press on towards the event goal. That makes failure a real possibility.

2. Have the courage to walk away from an opportunity if you don’t feel a passion for the cause.

3. Network. Network. Network.

Being involved in the community as a volunteer and via attendance at/participation in professional/social networking activities has built recognition for me and my business and has helped me expand my list of resources through the people I meet and business connections I make. I never know when I might have an urgent need for a 24-hour IT professional, power generator services, or a tractor trailer. It’s nice to have an abundance of resources on my contact list just in case I need a last-minute favor or unique product or service.

4. Be a giver, not just a taker.

Being willing to share my ideas/expertise with others at times at no charge, mentoring “the new kid on the block,” volunteering my skills, time and services for a worthy cause, helping others make the connections necessary for THEM to be successful, etc., has been incredibly rewarding for me – personally and professionally. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we do. We make a life by what we give.”

5. Use these two words – “THANK YOU” – often and with sincerity!

Success in non-profit fundraising is a team effort. One of the most important elements to continued success for a non-profit fundraiser is recognition of the efforts of others and expressing specific appreciation and words of gratitude to each and every person and/or business that contributed to the event – whether as a paid employee, a volunteer, a financial supporter and/or in-kind donor of products or services.

6. The most important thing you can wear to work is a smile.

7. “Never let ‘em see you sweat.”

We’ve all heard that expression, and based on my experience, following through on that by handling pressure, obstacles to success, last minute mishaps, etc. with poise and professionalism (and a smile) results in respect, positive feedback, and often a new opportunity referral from clients.

8. Think happy. Be happy.

Focus on the goal. Tell yourself you CAN achieve it, and keep your thoughts focused in that positive direction at all times. Thoughts become actions and in this case, will become success!

About Stacey Smith: As owner of Smith Marketing & Events, Stacey Smith possesses 20+ years of solid marketing, public relations, management, networking, and event planning experience. Smith Marketing & Events specializes in marketing consulting and event planning services for both non-profit organizations and corporate clients – services designed to increase sales and/or brand awareness, establish a positive and energized culture in the corporate or non-profit environment, build teamwork, foster new professional or personal relationships, recruit dedicated volunteers, and/or raise funds for a charitable cause. Smith Marketing & Events also hosts a variety of its own special events and programs. Depending on the event, attendees can enjoy an opportunity to expand their professional and/or social networks, experience professional and/or personal growth and development, and/or support a worthy cause.

An avid community volunteer, a consummate positive thinker, master networker, successful leader and team player, Stacey infuses her high-energy personality, can-do attitude, endless creativity, and penchant for fun into her professional and volunteer efforts and relationships.

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