Ep 5: Special Events: It’s Not All About the Centerpieces [PODCAST]

by Joan Garry

Event planning can fray the calmest of nerves. For many nonprofits it’s “make or break”. Here’s great advice from event guru Jason Burlingame.


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Event planning can fray the calmest of nerves. How do we know if we’re ready? Who sits with the boss or near the celebrity? Should we do it all ourselves or hire an outside planner? Don’t worry! Today’s guest has all the answers.

After leaving his position as an in-house event planner a decade ago, Jason Burlingame and his partner founded Stamp Event Management. Jason has LOTS of experience with the frazzled nerves and joys of event planning and gives excellent advice on how to manage all the details (and personalities!) involved in planning nonprofit special events.

I worked with Jason at GLAAD and know well how amazing his events are. He is the perfect person to tell us about creating and building relationships and meeting fundraising goals through hosting successful events (HINT: it starts with timeline and budget!)

Jason’s advice will help you decide if you’re ready to have an event, how to create the most effective event possible for your organization, will help you decide whether to hire an outside firm or do it yourself, and will make you feel that it’s all manageable. And, OK, we DID talk a little about centerpieces…


  • The big difference between corporate and nonprofit events.
  • If all your event gets you is more donations, you’re doing it wrong.
  • The one big thing you can do before your event so you’re not a nervous wreck.
  • The key to managing everyone’s expectations.
  • The 2 major components of the planning process.
  • Should you hire an outside event-planning firm or plan your event yourself?
  • How to engage your board productively in the event planning process.
  • Is your organization actually ready for a special event?
  • Why even large nonprofits that have done many events can still screw up a new event.
  • How you should measure the success of your event.