Mitzvah parents, teens and organizations: Are you planning an upcoming event to support your cause? Have you thought about all of the variables regarding your event, especially how many people will show? Your event will rely on how many people show up in order to plan for food, drinks, volunteer support, timing of the day and so much more! Read this great article, RSVP Strategies for your Next Big Event, which will help you get a better handle on what to expect.
Your event is a week away and only 15 people have responded to the flyer. The deadline was three days ago and past experience tells you that at least 50 people will likely show up. Do you order food only for those people who sent in a RSVP? How much extra food should you order for walk-ins? You don’t want to get too much, but you also can’t run the risk of running out of food!
If you are nodding your head in agreement, you have been here before. These days, people are busy and don’t like to commit until they know for sure they have nothing else going on. This typically means they won’t let you know if they can attend your event until the very last minute.
This can present a few problems for the event planner. Are 15 people enough for the program you have planned or should you cancel? How many chairs and tables should be set up? And of course, there is the aforementioned food dilemma.
Here are some ways in which you can encourage people to RSVP ahead of time:
- Pre-Publicity: Send out a “Save the Date” for large events so that people know to mark their calendars. This is especially good for major fundraisers and special dinners or programs.
- General Publicity: A flyer will most definitely get lost in a pile of paperwork and sit there for weeks– which means your event will be forgotten. Don’t rely on just flyers for advertising. Use all of the communication outlets available to you in order to publicize your event. Some examples are your organization’s website, Facebook reminders, weekly e-mail blasts, and more.
- Convenience: On-line forms will greatly increase the likelihood that people will respond and even pay in advance. QR codes in flyers and newsletters can be scanned with cell phones allowing guests to find RSVP forms easily and respond in a timely manner.
- Wording-Part I: Don’t just say “join us for our event…” Come up with a great opening to hook people in. For a recent trivia night, I used the following line…“Are you a Jeopardy fan? Do you enjoy a competitive game of Trivial Pursuit? Then, this is the event for you!”
- Wording-Part II: Add phrases like “seating is limited” or “dinner is free, but you must RSVP to attend.”
- Free Stuff! – Offer a free bottle of champagne, extra raffle tickets or a special giveaway to everyone who sends in an RSVP by a certain date.
- Honor your own deadlines: If people do not respond by the deadline, then they can’t attend. Harsh? Yes…but they will know for next time that they should RSVP or they will miss out on a great program.
Next time you are planning an event, keep these tactics in mind and watch the RSVPs roll in!
Reprinted with permission by:Elisa Heisman
Elisa Heisman is a Senior Marketing Communications Professional with more than 20 years of experience in educational publishing and non-profit management. For the past 12 years, she has served as the Director of Programs and Communications for Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen PA. Her areas of expertise include event planning, marketing, publicity, public relations, fundraising, volunteer management, website development, social media content, and membership recruitment and engagement.