Handling Events as They Come


Today I was going to write about a public relations/marketing committee meeting I attended. The content might have included something about the importance of reaching out to others in your field. Or maybe it would have been about how to conduct an interview. Perhaps I would write about punctuality or being a better listener.

But instead I’m going to write about how my supervisor and I sat in the conference room for 15 minutes waiting for nobody to show up.

My supervisor told me four to eight of the fifteen-committee members usually show up to any given meeting, which is held once a month. Today only one member was scheduled to attend. He never showed up. Apparently this is the only time in the committee’s history she had this problem. She was hoping to discuss strategies on how to distinguish our nonprofit from competitors.

Why am I writing about this? Because it highlights one of the challenges nonprofits and other small-staff, volunteer-based organizations face on a regular basis. Maybe today was an anomaly because people wanted to get as much work done as possible before Thanksgiving weekend. It’s also much easier to persuade people to show up to meetings and discuss business when their job pays them to do so. The question is how do you get people involved during their free time?

Strategies vary from using social media and appealing to businesses to engaging a person’s sense of obligation or duty. All of these are effective strategies. Sometimes, like today, you also have to accept circumstances as they come. Not everyone has the time or will to commit their free time to your cause. While I was disappointed I couldn’t reach out to anyone new today, I wasn’t bitter and I didn’t blame anybody. The experience was still a valuable learning opportunity that helped me understand my organization’s inner workings better.

Chris McKee

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6 Responses to Handling Events as They Come

  1. Chris, I love the positive attitude you have about this. I can’t say that if I was in the situation I would be as optimistic in the same situation. This is definitely something that I can see nonprofits struggling with. It creates a whole new challenge. I’d like to know if you and your supervisor make any changed to try and prevent this from happening in the future.

  2. sarahbrown90 says:

    I agree with Alex, it’s good that you are focusing on what you did learn from this experience regardless of the lack of attendees. Something is always bound to go wrong when planning events, this was just one of those times. It’s good to keep a positive outlook though and try to look at it as a way to learn, which is what it seems like you have done so good job!

  3. This is a very interesting post for me as I have never had nonprofit experience. I was talking to the communications manager at SMART last night, her name has escaped me, and she was explaining the differences between working at an agency and working at a nonprofit with a board. So your post is a nice component to the conversation I had last night. Alex makes a good point that it is good to be optimistic in this situation as nonprofits are have their difficulties. Great insight, thanks Chris!

  4. This is a very interesting post for me as I have never had nonprofit experience. I was talking to the communications manager at SMART last night, her name has escaped me, and she was explaining the differences between working at an agency and working at a nonprofit with a board. So your post is a nice component to the conversation I had last night. Alex makes a good point that it is good to be optimistic in this situation as nonprofits are have their difficulties. Great insight, thanks Chris!

  5. hailayn says:

    To echo what everyone else said, it’s great that you put a positive twist on a situation that wasn’t as “positive.” As someone who’s constantly reaching out to people to attend my organization’s events, it can defeating when you don’t get the desired turnout. So props to you for remaining positive and seeing this as a learning lesson.

  6. Chris, I’ve found that working for nonprofit organizations and managing volunteers is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences possible. You’re not paying volunteers, so if they don’t want to show, they don’t show. I’ve learned the thing that helps the most is placing volunteers where they want to be, doing what they’re best at. I’m glad you’ve managed to use this as a learning experience.

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