The Event Planning and Management Group on LinkedIn is having an important discussion about the role of fun in corporate and nonprofit events. It's one of those controversial topics that is bound to have event planners lining up on either side of the room. Here is my take on it.
I like to think of the "fun factor" in corporate events as having a similar role to spices or dessert in a meal. I would never eat a meal without the right seasoning but, despite my Jamaican heritage, I would never sit down to eat a plate consisting of nothing but spices. Ditto for dessert. There would be something missing if one were to sit down to a fabulous meal and not top it off with dessert. But if, day after day, every meal consists of nothing but dessert...well it would create some major health issues.
Same story with events for nonprofit organizations. The main goal of events is not entertainment but to further the ends of the charity or the nonprofit organization.
The primary driver of decisions regarding the shape of an event should be the mission, purpose and raison d'etre of the organization not how much fun we can deliver. It's important that we don't forget this.
Next the objectives of the specific event needs to be considered.
- promote products or services?
- build brand equity?
- re-position the brand in the market?
- communicate core messages?
- give back to the community?
- kick-off or wrap up business meetings
- communicate financial results and objective for the next quarter?
- express appreciation to top tier clients?
- reward top performing employees?
- boost morale?
Is the objective:
- to raise awareness about the organization's services?
- recruiting sponsors?
- collecting resources such as food or furniture?
The answers to these questions should shape the event and drive the content. Once this is determined and the composition of the audience assessed, creative touches and the fun factor can be integrated into the mix. Themes are a great way of reinforcing key messages and shaping the creative execution.
Yes, events need to be designed and delivered in an upbeat manner that engages attendees but let's not put the cart before the horse or confuse the means with the end.
Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International