Our guest blogger, Jennifer E. Goldman, President of Resonance, LLC, is a management consultant with a degree in Business Management and certifications in nonprofit management and business coaching. She’s a tough cookie with a gooey middle, cracking the whip on nonprofit organizations to teach them how to run like businesses while being entirely empathetic to the overworked staff who have all the right skills and just need someone to hand them the proper tools. Jennifer likes mom and pop secondhand shops, touring historic downtowns, and taking selfies with awesome art. Her services include regular coaching sessions, strategic planning facilitation, event evaluation and funding planning.
When I hear clients complaining about all the events their organization puts together, I either nod a lot in agreement (I so remember doing all of that) or start poking holes in their justification of it.
I think many of us have been there, especially if you’ve been staff at an organization; though I’m certain many board members can identify as well. We have these events, plan these events, do these events and work out the kinks so that next year’s events will go smoother. And then we start all over again. But, why?
The #1 answer is, “Because we’ve always done this.” And so I play the three-year-old and respond with, “Yes. But, why?”
I don’t mean to be disrespectful; I truly want to know why. I want organizational leaders to pause for a moment and think about why they are putting on these events or at least find out why the event was created in the first place.
- What was its intended purposes?
- Is that event still serving that intended purpose?
- Is that intended purpose still a valid reason for the organization to be coordinating this event?
Many times these events began with a very specific purpose in mind; some of them appropriate for the organizational mission. But, not all. And over time, some of these events have lost their purpose or their appeal. One gift we’ve been given from our experiences through this pandemic, is that it’s now time to talk about changes. Significant changes. In general, people are much more receptive to talking about, and making, strategic changes.
I advise any nonprofit leaders who have been wanting to evaluate their organization’s events to invite their staff and board or committee(s) to gather together and look at their events more strategically, asking themselves the questions I posed above. There are many options if you find one (or more) of your events are no longer as valid as you’d hoped. You can alter components of the event, give it to another organization, combine it with another event or program, change its location or maybe you throw it a farewell party. Just maybe don’t make the farewell party a new annual event!