Have you ever wondered: “When it comes to fundraising events, what’s the largest contributing factor to volunteer burnout?” It’s a question I’m often asked – and my answer rarely comes as a surprise to the event chairs that ask it – Ineffective Meetings!
Let me state upfront, meetings do have value. But, those who schedule them need to keep a few things in mind.
To begin with, the purpose of meetings is to promote dialog and exchange ideas. A meeting is not a place for the event chair to simply provide information to the volunteers and other event personnel. All general information should be distributed via memos and emails, not in a meeting format.
It’s essential that every meeting has an agenda. It’s also essential the person who calls the meeting or chairs the meeting sticks to the agenda. And if a meeting is scheduled, be sure:
- The meeting is worth all the attendees valuable time
- Will cause the project to move forward
- Begins and ends on time
Another question I’m frequently asked deals with the number of necessary meetings. Simply stated, it really depends on the organization and the issues that need to be resolved.
I’m a big proponent of having several sub-committees working under a Steering Committee. Steering committees should have two to five members who may act as the chair for a sub-committee. This will help in limiting the number of people who need to attend a meeting since the attendees have a specific purpose and role for being there.
Meet as often as needed, but never meet for the sake of having a meeting. If a scheduled meeting is no longer required, cancel the meeting. Everyone is busy, attending a meeting that is perceived to be a waste of time creates ill feelings and stress.
And speaking of stress, the initial meeting for an upcoming fundraiser should take place 15 months ahead of the scheduled event. You read that correctly – 15 months. This way the next year’s event planning is occurring simultaneously with the current year’s event. The issues that arise during the final stages of the current year’s event can be learning opportunities for the next year.
It’s also crucial to get all large decisions made early so they are completed by the time the current year’s event happens. This includes but is not limited to:
- The date
By doing this ahead of time these items can be announced at the conclusion of this year’s gala. Please understand I am not suggesting this planning for next year’s event in anyway interfere with implementation with the plans, item procurement or ticket sales for this year’s event. My suggestion is the steering committee for next year’s event get together early to make these decisions.
In an upcoming blog, I will be expanding on the topic of keeping meetings as short as possible – as infrequent as possible – and as focused as possible.
So, until we meet again. Oh gosh, now why did I go and say that?