The idea of adding something else to your plate may feel a bit overwhelming, but you know you really ought to host an event for your employee giving campaign this year. So, what can you do to plan something successfully without losing your mind? 

We just did this last week with our Global Cause Trivia & Charity Showcase, and it was a huge success. Here’s what you need to do, with examples from our own event planning process: 

  1. Start with an idea

Take 10 minutes to brainstorm a few event ideas based on what you think employees would enjoy. (You can even ask them for their input later.) Don’t get too hung up on logistics yet, you’re just getting some ideas. You don’t have to start from scratch either – we have a list of virtual event ideas on our Employee Giving Hub. 

Next, grab a few high-energy, fun-loving colleagues to help you plan this event. Their feedback on timing, feasibility and potential interest will help you decide which idea you’re going to execute. (Are you a one-person act? Email us and we’ll help you out.) 

Example: We knew we didn’t want to pick just one cause or theme, so we made the event all about ‘giving global.’ We were able to highlight four different charities (Children International, Heifer International, UNICEF USA and Water For People) and four different causes their work addresses (education, hunger, global health and clean water). Having a strong theme helped us make decisions throughout the rest of this process. 

  1. Map out an agenda and plan logistics 

Write out how you want the event to feel for a participant. Do you want them to come away with a deeper understanding of an issue? Do you want them to socialize with others at the event? Let this inform your logistics and agenda. For example, a webinar is better for allowing people to sit back and learn about a cause while eating lunch, while an in-person flag football game draws out everyone’s competitive side. 

Planning and practicing will be the key to preventing scheduling conflicts, technology issues and any worries on your part. Don’t hold back on writing out a minute-by-minute agenda. It’ll help you confirm the flow of the event and stay on track. Schedule time to practice with colleagues if you need to walk through different technologies. 

Example: We all agreed that shorter is better, so we didn’t want something longer than 45 minutes. Working backwards with 45 minutes, and planning in introductory and closing remarks, we had about 10 minutes for something fun and 20 minutes for speaking time. Here’s what our agenda looked like: 

2:00 – 2:05: Introductions and welcome from Melanie
2:05 – 2:15: Global trivia game hosted by Gillian 
2:15 – 2:20: Children International speaks about education 
2:20 – 2:25: Heifer International speaks about hunger 
2:25 – 2:30: UNICEF USA speaks about global health 
2:30 – 2:35: Water For People speaks about clean water 
2:35 – 2:40: Questions and wrap-up from Melanie 

  1. Add something extra

This is the step people often skip. What is something fun and easy that can give your event more pizzazz? Can you play music at the beginning while people are filing in? Is there a prize you can offer participants? The best ‘extras’ bring people together, like games or activities done as a group. 

Example: Working off the giving global theme, we decided that trivia would be a fun way to highlight the theme for the audience. There are tons of free tools and platforms you can use to help execute this part of your plan. We found Mentimeter in the early days of the pandemic and have been using it ever since. The Campaign Engagement team even made a Jeopardy! game you can use. It’s saved on our Employee Giving Hub.

  1. Find your charities 

Now you’ve got everything you need to invite charity speakers to your event. Be sure to share the following details when asking a charity to join you: 

  • Date and time
  • Location (platform details if the event is virtual)
  • Theme of the event 
  • Speaking time and preparation needed (Should they create a PowerPoint presentation or play a video?) 
  • Other logistics as needed (Is there limited parking at your venue? Will there be a security checkpoint?)

I sometimes see campaigns getting hung up on inviting charities that ‘fit’ with the event. If you’re smashing pies in the face of senior leaders, I’m not sure you’re going to find a pie-related charity…so just invite charities that do great work and ask them to speak about the impact of employee giving on their mission. No further alignment is needed! 

Example: We have nearly 100 leading international charities in our Charity Alliance, so this was the easiest part. If you want charity suggestions for your event, never hesitate to reach out to the federations in your campaign. We’ll connect you with some great charities, and we can work with the other federations to ensure there’s good coverage across different kinds of causes and organizations. 

  1. Promote 

People need to hear a message seven times before they will take action. This means you need to reach participants across different channels multiple times to ensure that you get those RSVPs. Email will be your biggest asset – plan two to four email communications in the lead up to the event, and don’t forget a last-minute reminder the day of! 

Places to consider sharing your event: 

  • Email (Consider sending the email from multiple people. People pay attention if different team members and leadership are reaching out about this event.) 
  • Intranet sites/staff portals 
  • Social media 
  • Blogs
  • Flyers in the office (try the back of a bathroom stall door!) 
  • Teams, Slack or any other kind of messaging platform 
  • Newsletters 
  • Calendar invites with the RSVP link in the description

Example: The Global Impact team promoted the event by email, social media posts, our Greater Giving Weekly newsletter and website. We also mentioned the event in conversations with partners, and even invited our own staff using our All Staff Teams channel. Promote, promote, promote! 

  1. Have fun 

Sometimes I get a bit too focused on making sure everything turns out perfectly that I forget this part. My colleague and co-host Melanie is good about reminding me that this is meant to be fun for everyone, including the people who run the event! If you’re not having fun then something is missing. There’s a good chance you should ask for help (seriously, email us – we are happy to help).  

Campaign events don’t have to be hard to plan and the payoff is huge. Employees come away with a better sense of their impact when they give through their workplace, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to build connections and community. We wish you the best as you plan out your event this fall. You’ve got this!