Thoughts on Everyone for Edmonton

For the second year in a row, Everyone for Edmonton (E4E) was held at the Shaw Conference Centre. An initiative of the SCC and Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), the event aims to connect Edmonton’s non-profit organizations with the public. Sharon and I stopped by after the AIDS Walk For Life yesterday, and came away less than impressed.

First off, here’s the official description from the website:

For the second year in a row, hundreds of non-profit organizations will be on hand to showcase the multitude of services they offer and the exciting volunteer opportunities available to members of the public. With over 4,000 non-profit organizations in Edmonton and over 8,000 in the Edmonton region this event has a lot to offer.

There weren’t hundreds of organizations on hand – I’d say there were just over a hundred. And while they were from a variety of sectors, I think the lack of cohesion was actually detrimental to the event. Some were there simply to have a presence while others were looking for volunteers. In contrast, the Festival Volunteer Fair that happened earlier this year was a much better event. Organizations on hand were all festivals, and the purpose was to connect with volunteers.

Everyone for EdmontonEveryone for Edmonton

Another difference between E4E and the Festival Volunteer Fair? The number of attendees. When we arrived at SCC yesterday, the place was deserted. We encountered only a handful of attendees visiting the booths inside. Chatting with a few of the people behind the tables confirmed the entire day had been like that.

I think the concept behind Everyone for Edmonton is a good one. Connecting our region’s non-profits with the public is a positive thing, and creating an event devoted to that end seems like a good idea. The execution of that could be better, however. All of the organizations present yesterday paid $50 to be there – did they all get $50 of value out of the event? The lack of attendees would suggest no.

Here are a few thoughts on how to improve E4E:

  • Identify a handful of specific audiences, and come up with ways to reach out to them. I think this year’s E4E suffered from a lack of promotion, and that’s probably due in part to trying to reach “everyone”.
  • Give the public a reason to attend beyond information – they can get information online. Activities, prizes, free food, something!
  • The website is very attractive, but it could be more useful. Instead of just listing all the organizations and linking to their respective websites, why not provide more information about each one right on the E4E website? Or at least provide separate volunteer information for each.
  • Think about changing the format. Walking through row upon row of tables isn’t all that exciting (though it does have a place). What about speed-dating for organizations and volunteers? That would be fun and effective!
  • One of the options for “why did you attend” on the feedback form was “to support local non-profits”. Why not give everyone who attends an E4E pin or something so that they can continue to show support after the event has ended!

Have any other ideas on how to make Everyone for Edmonton a better event?

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Everyone for Edmonton

  1. I think the biggest problem is promotion. No one really knew it was going on! I didn’t find out about it until late Monday night, past the app deadline really, but I managed to get ENTS registered anyway… unfortunately, with our grand opening, and then me getting sick, we weren’t really ready for it, but Slepp stepped up and made an ENTS presence happen anyway. It doesn’t sound like it was worthwhile doing, unfortunately.
    I only found out about it because a good friend is good friends with one of the organizers, AND she knows I’m involved with non-profits. I suspect that non-profit involvement is kind of the story with everyone who knew about the event… The thing is, if you’re already volunteering for a non-profit, you’re busy, you’re not trying to find out about other non-profits to volunteer for. And you can’t even network very well when you’re sitting at your table for your non-profit and so are all the other people. It’s all preaching to the clergy. What the event needed to be useful was to attract some interest from people who weren’t already in that community. Admittedly, I don’t know what promotional steps they took, to be fair maybe they did a whole huge amount of that and it just didn’t take (promotion is HARD, damnit), I only know that I never saw anything.
    As well, there was NO info available on the event really. Trying to explain it to anyone else was impossible because there wasn’t anything. “Okay, it’s for non-profits, it’s at the Shaw, and if you register you get an 8 foot table and 2 chairs.” That was all the info I was able to get from the website. Slepp told me he discovered that there were breakfast and lunch provided for all attendees; I don’t know where we would have gotten that information but I missed it, and that’s a large expense to not clearly communicate, especially since it softens both the blow of the registration fee and the logistics of sitting there all day! I would have liked to have seen some rules about what we can and can’t do; U of A Clubs Fair, to which I compare this event, has tons of that information, about floating and harassment, about use of motor vehicles, random stuff like that. It would have been nice to know if power would be available given the nature of ENTS… It would have been nice even just to be told how registration would work, “okay you show up and you go here and they’ll tell you what number your table is” or those kinds of basic details that if we got I was never privy to.
    Also apparently Slepp was wearing a nametag that said “Grant” all day; I guess they assumed that the person organizing and applying on behalf of the non-profit would be the same person working the table, even though there were two chairs anyway… I don’t get that.
    Uh, yeah… I’m not really going anywhere with this. I’m still flu-headed, I’m just ranting I think

  2. I would be reluctant to come out and claim it was poorly organized, because I don’t know anything of what went into it and it’s always eleventy-thousand times more difficult to organize events like that than anyone who has never done so can possibly imagine. I don’t want to be unfair to people whom I’m sure worked extremely hard! I’d rather just stick to constructive “what can we do better next time” type stuff 🙂

  3. I attended the event, and wasn’t impressed by it as well. The lack of advertising and focus for the event was likely a major cause for this, but having asked one of the exhibitors about the turnout from last year, it sounded like it was pretty bad as well.

  4. The other big thing about the value isn’t just money. $50 is not a big deal. It’s more the fact that organizations have to find people to man their booth for the day. Getting someone to basically give up their Sunday for what is kinda a waste of time sucks.

    Btw, on posts like this, is any effort made to make the relevant people aware of it? They’re probably doing their wrap-up meeting about now, and having this feedback would probably be very useful…

  5. That’s true; two years running I’ve been told by my employers that it’s too expensive for me to go to TechDays in Calgary, even though I would handle and pay for my own transportation, stay with friends for free, and even pay my own conference fee… no cost to them then, right? Wrong. They would pay all of those expenses anyway because they pale in comparison to what it costs them when I’m not there to work for two days. My time is more valuable.

  6. On behalf of the Everyone for Edmonton organizing committee, thank you for all of your comments.

    While attendance was not as high as anticipated, the event was still a success by our metrics. We had just over 500 in attendance, and of those who filled out suggestion cards, the majority rated the event as a 7 to 9 out of 10. We know some of the 136 registered non-profits were disappointed with the turn-out, however many commented positively about the quality of the interactions they had that day. We’re looking forward to compiling all of the non-profits post-event suggestions to ensure this event continues to evolve and strengthen next year.

    Everyone for Edmonton is, above all else, is a showcase for Greater Edmonton’s non-profit organizations. Of those surveyed last year, 49 per cent said the main reason they participated was for the public exposure, not necessarily to recruit volunteers.

    We made changes to this event based on last year’s feedback and all considerations will be reevaluated moving forward. We worked hard to promote this event and secured a number of earned media placements.

    Everyone for Edmonton was an idea originally conceived by EEDC as a way for the Shaw Conference Centre to give back to the community. Representatives from the non-profit sector, Volunteer Edmonton and the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations have also been supporters and continue to be valuable committee members.

    EEDC is committed to this unique event. As this is a young, unprecedented event we know much work is ahead of us and hope for continued support from the community. We welcome your feedback and suggestions – please email us @ everyoneforedmonton@edmonton.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s