40 Ideas to Reduce Event Stress

Brooke Battle
Written by :

Brooke Battle

Categories: Event Tips

Nonprofit fundraising events are stressful.  Many nonprofits debate the merits of events due to the staff time involved with properly planning and executing a well-run event.   While there are many ways to effectively bring funds into your organization, events offer a unique opportunity to attract new donors and connect your mission with many at once. It's stressful for hardworking nonprofit staff but with the right strategies and mindset, you can minimize stress and make the planning process more enjoyable.

Here are 40 ideas to help you reduce event planning stress:

1.  Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to plan and organize every aspect of the event.

2.  Set clear goals and objectives: Define the purpose and desired outcomes of the event from the beginning. 

3.  Create a detailed timeline and checklist: Break down the planning process into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to stay organized. Here is one of our favorite event checklists from the team at Webex.  Utilize the checklist with a smart timeline and tackle the tasks month-by-month. Rome wasn't built in a day and your event will not be planned in one.

4.  Establish your event budget: Determine your fundraising goals, create a plan to reach your revenue target and the expenses needed to execute an event that reaches those net revenue goals.

5.  Establish a clear event branding strategy:  Create a cohesive brand identity through consistent visuals, messaging, and experiences. Once created, you'll save time by going back to the original design files, colors etc.

6.  Make a Plan to Delegate: Identify capable individuals who can assist you with various aspects of the event planning. This includes volunteers, other team members, and interns as well as virtual assistants.  Don't be afraid to checkout online help for rote tasks.  Examples include Fiverr and Upwork.  

7.  Use event fundraising software: Need we say more?!? Take advantage of digital tools that can help automate tasks and manage guest lists. This includes links for table hosts to invite guests, easy tools to email your guests and integrated giving so that you don't have to think about the event technology. 

8.  Automate repetitive tasks: Use technology to automate tasks like sending reminders, gathering meal choices or answering commonly asked questions.  Here are two resources:  (1) How to Create Email Templates in Outlook, (2) How to Create Email Templates in Google

9.  Create an Event FAQ that can be linked to all of your emails and easily sent to stakeholders to reduce the number of inbound emails with small questions.

10.  Practice effective communication: Clearly communicate expectations, roles, and responsibilities with your team early in the process.  Regularly update your team and stakeholders on progress and changes. 

11. Create email groups for vendors, event committee, board members etc to easily send updates.  Use text groups if that's a better form of communication for your team and volunteers.  

12.  Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and reward your team's progress and accomplishments along the way. Stay positive.  

13.  Choose your venue wisely:  How much will the venue supply? Is it accessible? What about parking? Is the team easy to work with? Do they host many events like yours, if so, ask your peers for feedback?

14.  Hire professional vendors: Work with reputable vendors who have experience in their respective fields.

15.  Embrace a positive mindset: Approach event fundraising with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Positivity is a huge factor in your fundraising success. 

16.  Stay organized with digital folders: Organize documents, contracts, and important files in digital folders for easy access. Scan everything (if in paper).  Referenced below - maintaining these folders in a project management tool like Basecamp will ensure that you and your team have proper access. 

17.  Keep track of expenses: Maintain a detailed record of all event-related expenses to help with financial management. This will save you time post-event.

18.  Utilize online project management tools: Explore platforms such as BaseCamp, Trello or Clickup that allow for collaboration and project tracking.

19.  Make use of templates: Utilize pre-designed templates for invitations, programs, and other event materials. You know we love Canva.   Take advantage of Swell's event templates to support your fundraising.

20. Create your event supply / back up box: This can include items like the following:  batteries, post-it notes, pens, flashlight (backstage can be dark), bandaids, clipboards, highlighter, water bottle, extra charging cords, 

21.  Embrace simplicity: Focus on the core elements that will raise the most and make the event memorable, rather than getting caught up in unnecessary details.

22.  Evaluate your event for inefficient fundraising ideas:  These include bloated auctions, wine pulls, gift card trees etc.   Fundraising gimmicks are added to events to "raise more" when they often don't raise enough to make the time worthwhile.  Redeploy your time on recruiting table hosts, ensuring sponsor needs are met and the more strategic aspects of a great event.  

23. Eliminate the Silent Auction:   Unless your silent auction is well-known in the community and strategically curated, you can reduce a lot of stress by simply moving your silent auction to an online experience exclusively and not bringing it into the in-person event.   OR simply focus the event on a few live items and a Fund-A-Need moment.

Should you cancel your silent auction?

24. Find Inspiration in Creative Emails and Event Resources: Follow event planning blogs, magazines, and social media accounts to stay updated on the latest trends.   Anything that sparks your own creativity for your event.  We love the resources at BizBash to spark creativity. 

25.  Use technology to maintain an up-to-date guest list:   A smooth check-in process is dependent upon great data and a current guest list.  Leverage technology to automate all of your registration, meal selections, t-shirt choices etc.  Automate everything that is repetitive. 

26.  Outsource or Delegate Event Promotion: Outsource event media, social media posts and communication to a firm, a staff member, volunteer or even a college student majoring in PR depending on your size.   

27.  Stay organized with a digital calendar: Utilize a digital calendar to schedule meetings, deadlines, and reminders.

28.  Consider event insurance: Evaluate the need for event insurance to mitigate potential financial risks. This will reduce stress if you are hosting an outdoor event where you cannot control the weather.

29.  Stay up-to-date with permits and regulations: Ensure compliance with local regulations and obtain necessary permits.

30.  Be mindful of accessibility: Ensure the event venue is accessible to all attendees, including those with disabilities.  Consider this in your venue selection to reduce last minute stress.

31.  Rehearse the event: Run through the event schedule and activities with your team to iron out any potential issues.  Consider running a technology rehearsal a week in advance of your program rehearsal.

32.  Create a detailed event schedule and contact directory: Map out the event day timeline, including setup, activities, and tear-down. This should include a directory of the vendors, organization points of contact and cell phone numbers.

33.  Have a backup plan and redundancies:  Prepare contingency plans for potential issues that may arise during the event. This includes printed guest lists if your internet fails, envelopes and pens if needed. 

34.  Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep. It's worth mentioning sleep again.

35.  Stay hydrated and nourished on the event day: Keep water and healthy snacks readily available for yourself and your team.

36.  Create time on the event day for you to be dressed and ready to welcome guests.

37.  Take breaks: Schedule regular breaks to rest and recharge. Avoid burnout by taking care of your well-being.

38.  Be flexible: Accept that things might not go exactly as planned and be prepared to adapt.

39.  Celebrate the success of your event: After the event, take the time to celebrate your achievements and thank your team for their hard work. 

40.  Write your post-event email 3-months before the event:  Yes, it seems impossible but you can write a pretty good draft of a post-event email well in advance.  This means that when you are exhausted or a member of your team can easily hit the SEND buttons after minor edits. 

Event planning can undoubtedly be demanding, but by implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce stress and create a successful and memorable event. Remember to stay organized, seek support when needed, choose reliable vendors and maintain a positive mindset throughout the process.