Springboard Year: Why Nonprofits Should Take The Leap

In a recent episode of Next In Nonprofits’ podcast, our Co-Owner, Joel Dodson, talks about a nonprofit organization’s “springboard year.” This term describes the year an organization takes a leap to expand their budget on event production for a greater return.

While discussing the springboard year, Joel and podcast host, Steve Boland, delve into what nonprofits need to consider when hosting an event in terms of production and overall planning.

  • Participants: When it comes to A/V, the emphasis should be put on the needs of the attendees. Can they see graphics clearly during the fund-a-need and can they hear the auctioneer clearly during the auction? Just by adding two projection screens and a sound system, you can begin to capture the audience in a different and better way.

  • Sponsorships: Managing relationships with sponsors takes commitment and sponsors want to see themselves represented at an event. A/V gives organizations an outlet to show sponsors how you’re taking care of them with projection screens for sponsor reels, custom gobos for logos and more!

  • Themes and Activations: Don’t be afraid of a theme! Whether the theme is only incorporated in an invitation or expressed throughout every aspect of an event, themes will draw in attendees. Joel has found that organizations have more success incorporating different themes each year and coming up with unique activations for attendees to interact with. He emphasizes that organizations should look to their resources. For example, if one sponsor is a car dealership, they may be willing to provide a car for carpool karaoke and if the theme is 80s Night, the songs can all be from that decade! Creative activations can come at little to no cost and really transform an event.

  • Venue Selection: A venue can play a huge role in event experience by driving registration and although it’s convenient to book a hotel with a multi-year contract, it may not be the most beneficial. Some nonprofit organizations have venues donated to them and while Joel emphasizes using your resources, it’s also important to know when to change venues due to attendance numbers and limited capabilities. Organizations that host annual events tend to get comfortable with using a specific venue, but if you want your event to scale and avoid guests knowing what to expect, consider changing spaces. New venues are always popping up, and giving guests a chance to visit a new space will create a memorable experience and make them an annual attendee!

  • Next Year/Future Events: Whether it’s the first or tenth event, always be thinking about the future and considering how what you invest in this year’s event, will benefit you in the next three to five years and what changes will need to be made throughout those years. That could mean a bigger venue, budgeting more for A/V or adding an interactive experience for attendees. For example, an organization’s first year may just be about building a community around their mission by getting together people who believe in what they are doing. Joel and Steve discuss how smaller, mid-year fundraising events, such as a trivia night, can help achieve this goal by bringing people together for the same cause that will later have them attending a larger event.

In the full episode, Joel and Steve go deeper into these points and also discuss the crowded marketplace for events, scaling events from small to large, the expectations of staff and more! Click here to listen!