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Can events meet your nonprofit organization’s needs?

Posted June 15, 2022 by Virginia Davidson

Nonprofit Events

Events can sometimes seem like the best way to meet some of your nonprofit organization’s needs. You’ll raise money, you’ll welcome new donors and prospects, and more people will be familiar with your organization’s mission. Perfect solution, right?

In some carefully planned cases, yes. But in many cases, no.

In fact, when you consider the investment of staff and volunteer time, events can wind up costing your organization more than they earn. As Erik Hanberg writes in The Little Book of Gold, “Most events are highly inefficient…they’ll take you away from your organization’s mission and—worst of all—they’ll likely burn you out.”

As a nonprofit, you need to be judicious in how you plan and execute events in order to protect your staff resources and ensure you’re making the most out of the effort involved. To do that, you need to have a plan in place that encompasses everything from registrations and day-of details all the way through communicating with attendees afterward.

To plan and manage an effective nonprofit event, you need to consider:

For which of the following reasons are you holding the event?

  • Fundraising: An immediate financial goal
  • Cultivation/friend-raising: Introducing people to your mission
  • Stewardship: Thanking supporters and inspiring them to keep giving

The purpose of the event you are planning should be clear. If it’s not, it will be worthwhile to hold off on planning the event until you’re able to clearly define its purpose.

What information do you need to collect and manage in order to run your event successfully?

  • Your organization needs a system for accepting and managing event registrations.
  • Depending on the nature of your event, you may need to capture guest names, collect dietary restrictions, and create table assignments.
  • You need a way to record and report on amounts raised by the event.
  • You need a way to follow up with attendees.

These systems are important for multiple reasons

  • They ensure that you have the information required to manage an event successfully.
  • They provide you with vital data you can use to evaluate the success of your event and plan for the future accordingly.
  • They allow you to appropriately thank event attendees and include them in your organization’s ongoing communications, such as newsletters and year-end appeals, so you can retain their support.

Are you prepared to leverage your nonprofit events?

Without systems in place to manage all the information related to your events, your organization will have a difficult time hosting a successful one. Staff will likely experience burnout from having to oversee an event that isn’t well planned or well organized. Moreover, without the ability to communicate with attendees on an ongoing basis, you’ll lose the opportunity to maintain a relationship with them. With all the effort that goes into events, it’s crucial that your organization leverage events to maximize their benefit and minimize the stress on staff.

Do you have a clear goal for your events? Do you have systems in place to manage them effectively? If not, why? The Events functionality in Little Green Light can help you plan for, manage, and report on your fundraising appeal.

Free resources available

To help you plan and manage your events effectively, we’re making available two valuable resources that will guide you through the process of planning a successful event and, for users of Little Green Light, will supply you with specific, actionable tips to help you get the most out of LGL.

The first resource we want to direct you to is Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold. Forbes rated it as a Top 12 Must-Read Book For Nonprofit Employees, and it’s packed with practical, real-world fundraising wisdom that really resonates with us.

The second is LGL’s Companion Guide to The Little Book of Gold. Each chapter of Erik’s book covers an essential aspect of fundraising, and in LGL’s companion guide, we’ve written corresponding chapters that show you how you can use Little Green Light to implement Erik’s advice.

How to access “The Little Book of Gold” and LGL’s Companion Guide

For Little Green Light customers

Little Green Light customers can download their FREE digital copy of Erik’s book, The Little Book of Gold, and LGL’s Companion Guide right from within their LGL account. Simply visit the Help page in your account and click the blue “Get free copy” button at the top right of the page.

For non-LGL customers

Erik Hanberg’s The Little Book of Gold is available at Amazon, the author’s website, and wherever books are sold. LGL’s Companion Guide is available as a free download at


If this particular blog post is prompting you to reassess your organization’s events, we want to point you straight to chapter four of Erik’s book, aptly titled “Events will kill you,” in which he dives into the true costs, and true benefits, of events. And, for LGL users, chapter four of our companion guide will show you how to use LGL’s functionality to implement Erik’s advice.

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