Field Report – Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights: Sarah E
Three months and three gray hairs later, I am working on my last merger-related project. Unfortunately, that project is planning an event. For over 150 people.
I don’t know what it is, but the process of putting together an event fills me with dread. Maybe it’s because the final product is entirely public; your efforts are quite literally served to guests on a plastic platter (let’s be real, this is a nonprofit event), to be sliced and diced, peeled and picked apart. And lest we forget: As a people, we are ruthless. Impossible to please. When the success of the work hinges on the expressed satisfaction of a large audience, I’d prefer to escape the heat and hide under the nearest buffet table.
(Virtual audiences, on the other hand, aren’t so bad. When I send out a newsletter to 1,000+ people, I’m invisible. And so are they.)
From our last event in October. Despite all of my whining in this blog, it went very well and I had a blast.
But the real bummer is this: I want to continue working in nonprofit development, and therefore the “Event” will haunt my professional life forever onward. Here are three pieces of wisdom I’ve gathered over the last year. They are not very robust; hopefully in future years, I will collect more practical advice.
- If something feels wrong, DO NOT move forward with it! This will lead to nightmarish dreams and panic—oh, the panic! You will never feel normal again. At least as long as the Event is on the horizon. “Something” could include event venue, event date; any significant detail. Breaking this rule has proven to be a catalyst for gray hair growth. Seriously, last month I pulled out two silver strands. Then I wrangled our plans back on track, and none have sprouted since (the event is still a month away, have mercy).
- Serve lots (and lots) of alcohol. The keg has your back, always.
- Recruit a party committee who likes to throw parties more than you. For the last two events, I’ve begged the help of my coworker who loves taking trips to Costco. This is important because you will most likely make many trips to Costco, and that’s a real drag when you don’t enjoy steering a super-sized cart through a mini-city. My coworker also loves people, and people love her. She gets them to show up. This is also important. If you’re like me, and you’re afraid of event planning, then I can’t urge you enough to make sure the face of the party is a smiling one.
Wish me luck over the next month.