Event collateral checklist for nonprofits (Part 2)
In my last post, I talked about how to lay the groundwork for your event collateral — where to get started and how to prioritize your to-do list. Now that we have covered the importance of establishing a strong event theme (and the branding to go along with it!), it’s time to make sure you are reaching your audience in the best possible way. The checklist continues…
Here is part 2 of your nonprofit’s event collateral checklist:
7) Design the INVITATION (print or electronic)
If you’re wondering whether to do a printed or electronic invitation, my advice is to think about your audience and the venue.
If you are trying to reach young adults, an e-blast with a link to register online could work well. However, if you are talking to older adults or your venue is formal, you’re better off sending a printed invitation in the mail complete with a reply card. Either way, it never hurts to offer a special early rate to reward people for buying tickets before a specified cut-off date. Why not give people an incentive to purchase tickets right away?
In order to avoid your invitation getting lost in a pile of mail, send a hand-stamped envelope rather than opting for a pre-printed—and more commercial looking—indicia. Moreover, include some of the event’s graphics on the outer envelope to signify this isn’t junk mail, but an invitation to a special event.
What about timing? I would advise sending the mailed invitation four weeks prior to the event. Two weeks before the event, you can always send out a last chance to register reminder.
8) Put together the PROGRAM BOOK
Over the years, I have seen a wide range in the scale of event program books. Some organizations opt for a simple bi-fold booklet with just an agenda and a listing of sponsors, while others create 100-page journals complete with sponsor ads, honoree bios and a timeline of the organization’s major milestones. The scale will depend on the size of your event and the number of attendees.
No matter how many pages your program book includes, it is important to save room for an inspiring and noticeable call-to-action. People leave events feeling inspired and ready to help. While their emotions are high, you must give them a way to get involved (i.e. donate here, sign a pledge, send a letter to a policymaker, etc.).
9) Design EVENT SIGNAGE for various purposes
There are three types of signage I am asked to create frequently:
- Wayfinding signage, which helps people find the coat check, registration tables and the coffee station to name a few.
- Sponsor recognition signage, which showcases the sponsor logos in a prominent way. This could involve one large sign with all of the sponsor logos, or several different signs where the larger sponsors get more real estate.
- Event branded signage, which features the event logo and graphics on large-scale banners or step & repeats. These banners and backdrops can be found behind the podium and heavily photographed areas.
10) Post WEB BANNER ADS wherever your audience is online
Now is the time to make sure everyone knows the who, what, when and where of your event and has an easy way to register. Why not tap into the audience visiting your site and related sites? You already know this crowd is interested in the work you do. Placing web banners on various sites, including your own, is a great way to spread the news and stay top of mind.
11) Create an EVENT WEB PAGE/SITE with all of the details and resources
This can be done using an event registration platform like Eventbrite (which can be customized by uploading JPGs of your event graphics) or a page on your organization’s website. Either way, some online real estate with event details needs to exist.
The webpage should answer FAQs, give people the ability to register online, and share up-to-date event information. It’s also a fantastic place to highlight the sponsors by showcasing their logos. (Don’t forget to add this to the list of sponsorship benefits on your Sponsorship Levels & Benefits Sheet!)
For a conference or symposium, include a listing of all the different sessions being offered. This way, attendees can plan their day accordingly and show up prepared.
12) Share a PPT PRESENTATION
PPT slides can mirror the event branding and be an easy, affordable way of sharing photos of your organization’s work, award winner information, sponsors, presenters, special guests and a call-to-action.
Have your designer include an eye-catching cover slide, as well as the event graphics in the background or border of all subsequent slides. You can play with the timing of the animation and have the slides loop in the background during the cocktail reception, the luncheon or any down time. Again, add this to the list of sponsorship benefits and be sure to include sponsor logos.
13) Display TABLE TENTS along with the centerpieces
A table tent is a smart way to further brand your event, thank top sponsors and, most importantly, provide a call-to-action. If people are gathering around a table for cocktails, lunch or dinner, why not take this opportunity to ask them to visit your website, get involved or sign up for your newsletter? While your attendees are feeling inspired and motivated, tell them where to put that energy!
14) Don’t forget to brand the NAMETAGS AND BAGS
When people show up at your event, they will likely pick up a nametag upon sign in. Adding the event title and graphics to the nametag shows an attention to detail that makes your event feel well planned and organized. It shows a level of professionalism and care that attendees will appreciate.
To make it easy, your designer can set up a simple JPG template to be used with Word; the badges can be personalized, then printed in-house up until the day of the event!
Some events such as conferences and symposiums call for tote bags so attendees can carry notebooks and loose handouts to their various workshops/sessions. It’s a great idea to brand these items and send people home—or out into the world—with your organization’s logo.
15) Give away actual AWARDS as keepsakes
If you are honoring a select few people who have been instrumental in furthering your mission, you can have awards made for each recipient that include the name of the event, the date, the award name, the recipient’s name and your organization’s logo. Recipients are likely to keep the award on their desk. Of course, your first objective is to thank and honor them, but it’s an added benefit that your organization will now be visible to more of your target audience.
Feeling motivated to plan and implement the collateral for your next event? Just be sure to keep everything on brand and to properly recognize your sponsors—and you’ll be in great shape. To make your life even easier, be sure to download my printable checklist here. When everything looks consistent and cohesive, your event looks organized and successful before it’s even started. That’s the type of event people want to be a part of. When the branding is carried through to the materials on the day of the event as well, you have created an event people will now remember. Good luck!