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.

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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?