What Does an Event Planner Do?
If your church hosts several events throughout the year, it might be a good idea to designate one person as the main event planner. By having an experienced event planner in charge, you’re able to avoid the headaches that can sometimes arise with events. For example, do any of these sound familiar?
- A lack of communication between departments on who’s in charge of certain details
- Poor attendee turnout
- A last-minute rush to get things done the week prior
If there’s any type of friction during your event planning process, that could be a sign of too many chiefs. Hire or appoint an event planner to organize your events and keep everyone on the same page.
But what exactly does an event planner do?
Here’s a list of the main tasks an event planner will handle to make your event a roaring success.
Identify the “why” behind an event
Before getting to the details, a church event planner first wants to know the reason for having an event. This involves working with church leadership to determine the overall vision and scope of the effort. Here are a few questions the event planner will ask:
- Why are we doing this?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Does this align with our overall church mission?
The answers to these questions will drive all decisions about the event, so this is a vital step to complete.
Lead the planning team
An event planner may be in charge, but they aren’t the only one doing work. It’s their job to create and collaborate with a planning team (staff and/or volunteers) to identify the tasks required to make an event a success. Once tasks are divvied out by the planner, it’s their job to continually monitor the progress of team members and keep everyone on schedule. A few other responsibilities include:
- Making sure the team stays within budget
- Keeping senior leadership informed
- Conducting weekly reporting through a dashboard reporting format
- Raising potential issues with those responsible by discussing what the issue is, likely causes of it, and possible solutions (including the cost or impact of each)
Ensure the team communicates effectively
To keep the planning team, church leadership, and departments on the same page, an event planner will coordinate meetings throughout the planning process. To ensure an effective meeting, an event planner should develop a meeting agenda, make sure the appropriate parties are invited to the meeting, capture action items and decisions during the meeting, and follow up with a written review afterward. It’s also crucial to make it clear the function of each department. Many times, double work is done because of a lack of communication between departments. A wise event planner will guide all leaders within the church to understand one another’s roles, which will lead to better, more effective communication.
Oversee the team’s activities on the day of the event
As the head of the event, the event planner will oversee the entire team’s activities on event day. They’ll check in periodically throughout the event to help where needed, answer questions, and provide direction. Having this point of contact is not only beneficial for the planning team when issues arise, but it also creates a level of professionalism noticed by event attendees.
Capture lessons learned and all key event data after the event
How do you make your next event better? By conducting a “lessons learned” meeting with your team after the event. Adding an event planner doesn’t mean you won’t have any issues come up, but it does mean you have someone to direct feedback toward in order to better plan for future events. The event planner will gather this feedback, along with other key event data — such as final attendee count, complaints, and merchandise purchased — to plan consistently better events long term.
The role of the event planner isn’t easy. With this in mind, find someone who is detail-oriented, respected by his/her peers, has a proven ability to lead a team effectively, and who is dedicated to the vision of the church. Whomever you place in this role, make sure you provide him/her with your full support. If you haven’t had a standard event planning process or a central event planner before, this will be a significant change for the rest of the staff. Communicate with your team; help them understand why you’re making this change and address how it will save them time and frustration in the long run.
To learn more about the role of an event planner and how to establish an event planning process, check out my book…Big Event Success for Churches. You can read the first chapter for free here.