What Event Coordinators Do
While event coordinators, in general, may cover a wide range of activities from birthdays to weddings, event coordinators in the non-profit sector plan, organize, and promote events for an organization in an effort to raise money for their cause. Non-profit events may include things like fundraisers, awareness campaigns, charity races, food drives, and more. Duties often include setting and monitoring event budgets, finding volunteers, working with team members, selecting venues, obtaining supplies, planning activities, and promoting the event.
Who would enjoy a career in Event Coordination?
Event coordinators rely on a team to help make sure their event goes off without a hitch, so having recruitment and leadership skills are essential. People who are self-motivated, with excellent time-management and organizational skills generally do best. Overall, the career can be a great fit for someone who is naturally a social butterfly and also wants to have a big impact on society though a specific cause, as their work can enable the non-profit organization to continue functioning or grow.
Who mightn't like the career?
The field is not ideal for those who balk at public speaking or are uncomfortable with networking, as these are core components of the job, with donors, volunteers, and board members alike. It’s also not ideal for those who aren’t fully-committed to the cause they serve, as emotional benefits are what typically keep people in non-profit careers; pay is modest and hours can be demanding. Lastly, those unprepared to make presentations to a board or who lack negotiation skills may have trouble in the field, as getting board buy-in is essential prior to planning anything.
Event coordinator positions often require a bachelor’s degree in event planning or a related field. Experience in management, hospitality, or customer service industries is a plus. There are also several certifications for experienced event coordinators that can help improve their careers: The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential and/or the Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP) designation. The CMP is a voluntary certification that requires at least 36 months of meeting management experience and continued education in order to register for an exam which tests risk management, financial management, operations, and other skills. The CGMP is another voluntary certification geared toward coordinators working in government; to take the course and final exam to become a certified planner, candidates must have a year’s experience in meeting planning and be a member of The Society of Government Meeting Professionals. Neither of these certifications are required for special events coordinators nor may they be relevant to all careers, but they can provide beginning coordinators with extra skills for their resumes and a deeper understanding of the event coordinating industry.
- Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management
- Bachelor’s in Event Management
- Bachelor’s in Business Management
- Bachelor’s in Communications
- Bachelor’s in Marketing
Event coordinators in the non-profit sector must have a thorough understanding of the organization they wish to work for. It’s a good idea before any interview or networking event to brush up on the history, goals, and values of the organization, as this will demonstrate passion for the cause and serious intent about the position.
- Favorite Interview Questions of Nonprofit Employers
- What to Plan for Before Your Event Planning Interview
- How to Answer Tough Event Planning Interview Questions
Moving into Event Coordination from another career
Anyone working in a customer service or hospitality industry may have what it takes to work in the non-profit sector as a special events coordinator. This career change will play on communication, interpersonal, and service skills while providing a deeper motivation and often higher job satisfaction to those doing the work. Anyone from hotel managers, marketing specialists, or financial planners can use their relevant skills to begin the path toward event coordinating. Even regular volunteers may transition from part-time work to full-time careers at the heart of the organization they care most about. Those interested in being special events coordinators for non-profits should read “What it Takes to Become a Non-profit Event Planner” to hear from an experienced coordinator who loves her field of work. “17 Tips to Help You Make the Transition from Profit to Nonprofit” may also be a good resource for those looking to make a switch.
- Hotel Management
- Human Resources
- Business Management
- Financial Planning
Role: Most people who get into non-profit event coordination begin as volunteers, supporting organizations they care about. They may be assigned various support tasks, ranging from administrative duties, to promotion, rallying more volunteers, working with vendors or suppliers, and working at the event.
Role: Event coordinators begin by working with board members and execs to identify the core message of the event and its goals. From there, they may pitch event ideas for the board and execs to approve, and begin building out the general framework for the event, such as time, date, and location. While planning, event coordinators will speak with vendors to negotiate prices, recruit and train volunteers, and handle any PR or marketing needed to raise awareness for the event. Effective coordinators keep lists of volunteers and donors they can count on, and call upon them to assist with their events. Though delegation of various duties is essential, the event coordinator is responsible for seeing that all work is done correctly and in a timely manner. The event coordinator is also present during the actual event, and ensures everything occurs according to plans. Afterward, the event coordinator must typically report event statistics back to the board, so everyone is aware of the effectiveness of the campaign. He or she may also send out thank-you notes or small gifts to volunteers and donors in order to keep relationships strong, so they can be called upon again later.
Between meeting with the organization’s decision makers, to examining venues, speaking with vendors, and recruiting volunteers, event coordinators travel frequently for work. In some cases, it’s only local travel, though event planners may be involved in creating “destination” events, in which case work can take them anywhere in the world.
While volunteer positions are unpaid, data from PayScale shows that event coordinators earn an average annual wage of USD$42,000 in America, CAD$43,000 in Canada, £23,000 in the UK, and AU$59,000 in Australia. Salaries do not increase much with experience.
Bonuses are sometimes awarded for reaching specific goals, but varies greatly depending on the organization.
Why Event Coordinators move on
People who take non-profit event coordinator jobs typically do so because they believe in the cause and enjoy the work, but the income may not be enough to serve as a full-time career and advancement opportunities are slim. Individuals facing these challenges may work for more than one non-profit organization or may also work in tandem in the for-profit sector to make ends meet.
Intense deadlines, long and odd hours, and too much time spent away from home may eventually take their toll as well. Read “10 (Harsh) Truths Nobody Tells You About Being an Event Planner” for an insider look at challenges that some event coordinators may face.
Fortunately, event coordinators gain a diverse set of skills and amass a large network of references over time that can help them successfully navigate many future career paths.