Did I Pick the Right Date?
Event strategies are set, budgets are approved, markets selected and it’s time to select and secure a date for your event. But which date do you pick? Are there good dates and bad dates? And how do you go about selecting the “correct” date? Is there such a thing as the correct date (Absolutely). The date you choose can have an impact on your event’s success. The “right” date can make your planning easier, provide more site options and improve your overall fundraising numbers. Pick the wrong date and all the planning, promoting and hard work can be for naught. So what are the keys to selecting a date for your event?
There are a number of factors that go into picking dates. Here are ten factors to consider when selecting a date and that impact the success of your event:
- TIMING. It’s at least a year in advance of the event. Don’t know if this needs explaining but give yourself and your organization adequate time to execute your event.
- AVAILABILITY. When thinking of dates check with the local permitting office to find out what dates are available for various sites. You may have a date in mind but the site is booked that weekend. Be flexible, but start looking as early as possible.
- COMPETITION. What other events are taking place on the dates you are considering for your event. Fundraising events are challenging enough without having to compete with your cross town nonprofit rival. Why not call your competition to coordinate dates so you avoid possible event conflicts?
- WEATHER. Your date can be dictated by the type of event you are hosting. Indoor events like a gala are not impacted by weather, but outdoor events must consider several factors. Avoid August and the heat if you are hosting a marathon or century bike ride; especially in the south. Walks have more flexibility but check weather patterns for your dates and remember that late fall date with a great 70 degree day can also drop to the high 30’s the following year.
- CULTURE. The U.S. has a very diverse society so always be conscious of religious holidays that may impact segments of your audience. Christmas is an easy example, but holidays like Jewish Rosh Hashana that change dates every year require some research. This also applies to weekends where some communities frown on Sunday morning events that coincide with Church services.
- HOLIDAYS. Holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. are interesting choices. While they are holidays where people make plans, many people look for events that can be part of their holiday activities. People have extra time over three day holidays and this might be an opportunity to host a fundraising event.
- AUDIENCE. Make sure your date fits with your primary audience. If your event focuses on young adults the month of May might not be a good choice because of all the graduations taking place. For families with young children August is never a good time as families are taking vacations and getting ready to go back to school. December is also a tough month as people prepare for the holidays with shopping and work celebrations.
- SEASONS. Consider the activity and the peak seasons for certain sports/facilities. Hosting a golf outing is best in the spring or fall. Why? Golf courses have more availability early and late season where you can get a better rate for green fees and other services. Summer is a golf course’s peak time and are not as aggressive to host golf outings. Hosting a marathon in the early spring in the north/northeast is not advisable since training has to take place during winter/cold months to prepare for a marathon. Amusement parks can be a great event site and they are aggressive in hosting events in the spring and fall when schools are still in session.
- SPONSORS. Coordinate your date with your primary sponsors. Make sure it fits into their schedules. There is nothing more frustration than having your main sponsor not attend because it conflicts with their business schedule – national conference, president is out of town or their annual board meeting.
- AWARENESS. Secure your date as early as possible. Get all the necessary permits to lock in your date. Once your date is locked in let everyone know the date, especially past participants and sponsors. Send everyone a save the date card or email. Get on their calendar as far out as possible so you don’t lose participants because of date conflicts.