Non-Profit Event Planning Lessons We Can Learn from Public Colleges

We all know that most state legislatures are making drastic cuts to their budgets. One of the main areas of cut backs is to higher education, and, as a result, public colleges and universities are turning to their alumni for support. This is a new experience for many public institutions.


While academic programs and instructors at public institutions are being eliminated, alumni associations are increasing their staffs and gearing up their fundraising appeals. They’re also planning more events in order to solicit their alumni.

At Banners on a Roll, we’ve helped many colleges and alumni associations plan and promote cost-effective and successful events. Here are three takeaways we think apply to event planners in any industry:

1. Properly balance event budget with effectiveness.  

Public institutions and their alumni associations must walk a fine line. They need to host events that spread their appeal messages effectively while assuring donors their money is being spent wisely.

Almost every non-profit must strike a similar balance. Donors want to make a difference for a cause that’s important to them; they don’t want to feel like they’re feeding a fundraising machine. From your choice of venue to supplies such as  banners, table skirting, and stickers, partners such as Banners on a Roll can help you plan and promote a successful event on a tight budget.

2. Mix and match event types and promotional vehicles.

Many public colleges have “landmark” events, such as football games and graduation, that draw alumni to the campus. But active alumni associations also hold events in various locations across the country where alumni congregate.

This “mix and match” approach can be an effective event planning strategy for any industry. By varying the size, location and purpose of events – and perhaps trying a mix of marketing and promotional vehicles as well – can give your organization a better chance of reaching a broader range of potential donors.

3. Banners on a Roll can help!

Before starting Banners on a Roll® with partner Brad Lehrer, Susan Van Allen was a professional, non-profit fundraiser. We have many years of collective experience working with nonprofits to provide the most effective items while within budget constraints. Above all, we enjoy developing fundraising campaigns, and we’re good at thinking outside the box to make an effective branding statement. Feel free to give us a call – we we would love to be a part of your next successful event!


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