Utah Memory WalkAwhile back I wrote about how the 2008 Southern Utah Memory Walk was a huge success, both in terms of participants and funds raised. This is fantastic news, and I’m thrilled that the event will help find a cure for Alzheimer’s and provide services to families in Southern Utah who are facing the disease.

Yet even the most successful charity events can be challenging in their own way. Case in point: The Southern Utah Memory Walk Committee anticipated 200 participants on Saturday, November 8th. Instead, almost 400 people came out for the event! As LuAnn Lundquist, Regional Manager for the Southern Utah Alzheimer’s Association, explained, “We were short on food and shirts, but long on enthusiasm and participation.”

The thing is, if you run out of food and t-shirts, those are good problems! It means your event surpassed even your own high expectations. Don’t beat yourself up if something like this happens at your event. Instead, appreciate the good problems and learn from them for next year.

For instance, if you can only offer continental breakfast for up to 200 people based on your budget and in-kind donations, avoid advertising that a free continental breakfast will be provided. Instead, say something like, “Limited breakfast snacks will be available, but eating before the event is encouraged.” That way, people will know that there’s a chance that they’ll get to snack on a banana or a bagel, but they won’t count on it for their morning meal.

The same thing goes for t-shirts. If you only have 200 to give away, instead of promising a t-shirt to anyone who donates $25 or more, simply say, “The first 200 people to arrive that donate $25 or more will receive a t-shirt” (adjust the details to your own event accordingly). This way, participants won’t count on getting that t-shirt, but they will hope for it and be motivated to show up early.

For most participants, these good problems are minor issues. Strong supporters are there for the cause, not the free stuff, and many already have too many charity event t-shirts to fit in their dresser drawers. But clarifying the details of your event will turn those good problems into solutions for next year.

What would you do in these kinds of situations?  Leave a comment in the box below.

Posted on 11 June 2009

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