In tough times, think again about events

In tough times, think again about events

Events have always been a well-used tool in the communications kit. Over the years, we have organised countless conferences, receptions and briefings for not-for-profits wanting to launch new research or services, influence stakeholders or develop supporter networks.

It takes a fair amount of time and money to put on an event. So when funds are tight, the value of traditional events is worth questioning. Think about what you’re trying to achieve; can you meet your objectives another way? Don’t just stage an event because that’s what you usually do. Or, even worse, because your Trustees expect you to.

Of course, there are some occasions when an event is the right answer. In which case, you need to make it work really hard, propelling your organisation or cause forward. Maybe you need a new approach.

We recently helped launch People Can, a charity strengthening communities and supporting individuals affected by homelessness, domestic abuse and offending.

People Can is driven by a strong ‘can do’ ethos, based on the belief that solutions exist when you focus on what people can do, not what they can’t do. This applies both to services and to the way People Can operates as an organisation. Which means being open – to new ideas, opportunities, approaches and partnerships.

Not many are brave enough to walk this talk. But People Can took a leap of faith with its launch events, side-stepping the usual format and opening up completely. Rather than presentations about People Can, there was discussion about issues affecting the sector. Using Open Space and World Cafe techniques, everyone who came participated.

This was about engagement, not a one-way stream of key messages. People went away inspired, energised, enlightened and heartened. Priorities were identified; solutions were found; collaborations were born; actions were agreed.

It’s not easy to do things differently. But in doing so, People Can made a bold statement about who they are and how they operate. Even more importantly, they changed the way others think and work. That’s an event worth doing.

[Contact us to find out more about participation and engagement. And check back soon for news about The Participation Agency.]