I will admit that my entrance into development was through events. I was doing nonprofit development work as a volunteer years ago, before I even knew that’s what I was doing.
Before I went to grad school, before I started college, even before I graduated from high school, I was a waitress. The most practical skills I learned, beginning at around age of 15, were customer service skills, being able to greet and talk with anyone, juggling 62 tasks at once, learning the timing and flow of programs and service, developing the extra sense of anticipating the needs of guests, and just being on the service-side of major events/banquets. My step into planning events was as an undergraduate student when my department needed to organize a dinner of some sort… I don’t remember what it was. I watched the faculty struggle with making decisions, offered to help, and they dropped the entire event on me. No problem! Since then, I have found myself running some element (or the entire event program) of countless auctions, receptions, conference sessions (and two full conferences), campaign events, house parties, promotional appearances, and concerts. I know events.
But here are some things I have learned over time that I wish more nonprofits would consider (and this has come up a LOT lately as I have talked with various orgs):
Brand new major events are not $ilver bullets that will make you lots of money in a short period of time, and should not be considered quick fixes for your revenue problems.*
If your organization is struggling financially, think long and hard before you decide to host a new event for the sole purpose of bringing in an infusion of cash. Events rarely work that way, especially when the event is brand-spanking new to your organization.