For You, the Quiet Philanthropists Who Never Pressed Pause

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I have attempted to write this message on several occasions and each time I felt overwhelmed by the devastating impact of Covid-19 and didn’t quite know what to say.  For what feels like an eternity, we have been navigating what has quickly become our new normal. On Monday, June 8th, New York City’s economy will reopen and we will begin the enormous task of assessing the emotional and financial toll and creating new systems in order to survive.
As a member of the nonprofit community, I have seen first-hand the heroic support, provided by women and men like you – the quiet philanthropists – who showed up day after day to ensure the needs of your constituents and beneficiaries were met. From reaching out to your formal (and informal) networks, to providing food, shelter, clothing, money, housing and transportation, to enlisting vital support from everyone who would listen, you (we) stayed the course; sometimes at the expense of your own organization.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the sacrifices made by our small/independent business owners. You have generously supported our essential workers and your colleagues in the non-profit community in numerous ways. From making cash contributions to donating goods and services freely and without being asked.  Regardless of your affiliation, you are the leaders and voices for this moment in history.
Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.  You are truly a life-force for our local communities, nationally and globally. Please remember, no one is equipped to do this work alone. Continue to enlist the support that you need as you show up for others.
We appreciate you!
Monique Brizz-Walker

Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events || Envisioning Your Gala

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events™ series created to serve as a resource for non-profit leaders looking to host their first special event fundraiser, or reinvigorate a dormant event, but are overwhelmed by the steps involved.  In my previous article I provided insights to consider when Collaborating with Honorees on your signature fundraising event, which can be accessed by following this link.

Today I am pleased to share tips to keep in mind when planning your organization’s first (or reinvigorated) Grand Affair With Lasting Appeal (GALA). Unlike any other event you will host or imagine a GALA conveys a grand vision that has come to life; uniquely designed to create a memorable experience for prospects, donors and stakeholders.

For many attendees your event will be their first introduction to your organization; therefore you are charged with providing an experience that is exciting and informative, elegant and engaging. Whether the dress code is festive wear or business attire, black tie or white tie, your objective is to create an environment that will impress donors enough to convert them from passive observers into active participants.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning for your (GALA):

  1. Your GALA’s objectives should be well-defined and have measurable outcomes.  Most important of all, please take the time to gain clarity around why you have asked guests to gather and the message you want to convey.  This is also an opportunity to allow donors and stakeholders to interact with your program’s beneficiaries and see their philanthropy at work.
  2. Your GALA must have the appropriate team to achieve success. Every participant – honorees, gala committee members, emcees, entertainers, designers, staff and volunteers – must be committed to the vision or it simply will not work.
  3. Your GALA’s ticket and table prices must be structured to create a successful outcome. Funds raised will help strengthen working capital and create a new portal of donors who share your organization’s values. Your GALA will help set the stage for future events and your objective is to leave donors clamoring for ways to be involved.
  4. Your GALA’s look and feel should give the impression something special is going to take place.  The venue you choose is critical to achieving this objective.  While your event must feel special and worthy of your guests’ investment; please be mindful as you to not want to produce an event that will come across as wasteful to your target audience.  

High-level events are a great way to raise funds and build relationships but there are many steps involved.  However, with the right strategies you will be able to plan with precision and execute with excellence.

If I can support your efforts, please contact me at Monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

Here’s to your success!

Monique

#philanthropy #nonprofitleaders #specialevents #specialeventfundraiser #nonprofitevents #galas #fundraisers

Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events || Collaborating with Corporate Honorees

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events™ series created to serve as a resource for non-profit leaders looking to host their first special event fundraiser, or reinvigorate a dormant event, but are overwhelmed by the steps involved.  In my previous article, I discussed Ways to Involve Donors When Making the Case For Support, which can be accessed by following this link.  As you and your team work to ensure dinner leadership and strategies are in place to strengthen your fundraising efforts, one of the most exciting moments occurs when a corporate chairman or CEO accepts your invitation to be honored.  

Collaborating with an industry leader, who understands the importance of positioning your organization in the philanthropic marketplace, can have a tremendous impact on fundraising efforts.  Your team is excited and ready to spring into action.  Before you leap, corporate honorees will need to balance your organization’s needs with the corporation’s social responsibility agenda.

Today, I am pleased to share some insights to consider when Collaborating with Honorees on your signature fundraising event. 

1. Corporate honorees have influence but do not have an open checkbook.  The good news is you are working with proven leaders.  Once they have a clear understanding of your needs and commit to the fundraising campaign, you will receive great support.

2. Corporate support may take many forms.  Do you make it easy for others to support your work?  Here are some options you can consider when seeking corporate support: (a) a one-time lead gift to fund a program area (b) a multi-year commitment to launch a new initiative, (c) a one-time lead gift to support the event coupled with a pledge to secure additional funding from their network.

3. Corporate honorees are careful with their investments.  CEOs take pride in knowing their resources (time, money, key personnel) add value to your organization’s bottom line.  At the same time, they take comfort in knowing your team will take an active role in fundraising efforts. 

4. Corporate communication generally takes place via a member of their executive team. Traditionally, this person will be a senior-level manager designated to assist you and update the honoree.  Please honor and work within this structure.

5. Business etiquette goes a long way.  Your organization liaison should have great interpersonal skills and be able to communicate with business leaders with professionalism and tact.  This will help build a lasting relationship long after the event is over.

In addition to raising funds for your organization, high-level events are a great way to solidify relationships for the future.  While there are many steps involved, with the right strategies in place, you will be able to plan with precision and execute with excellence.

If I can support your efforts please contact me at Monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

Here’s to your success!

Fondly,

Monique

 

#philanthropy #nonprofitleaders #specialevents #specialeventfundraiser #nonprofitevents #galas #fundraisers

Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events || Setting the Stage for Success

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events™ series I created to serve as a resource for non-profit leaders who are interested in hosting their first special event fundraiser, or reinvigorating a dormant event, but may feel overwhelmed by the process.

One of the first things you must do is obtain buy-in from members of your leadership team, the board of directors and a small circle of influential donors – who will each play an important role in the fundraising campaign.  However, without a blueprint to follow, where will you begin?

Today I will share 5 essential questions to help inform your discussions with these key stakeholders.

1.  Why are you hosting this event?

There are many reasons why you have decided to host your signature event, chief among them is to generate income from table and ticket sales. That said, you should be able to clearly articulate how you will use the proceeds.  Will you add new programs and services, or enhance ones that already exist?  Will you participate in executive level training to further develop your leadership skills?  How will you invest in your team?

2.  Can you afford to do this?

Planning and executing large events can be expensive, and many unexpected costs will come up along the way.   You must honestly assess how much you can invest, set a budget and determine the impact of these expenses on your day-to-day operations.  Equally important, you must decide if you have enough cash on-hand to sustain the organization until the fundraising campaign generates income.

3.  Do you have sufficient resources?

Please keep in mind, this event will unfold as you continue to manage your daily responsibilities. You must continue to serve your beneficiaries, collaborate with stakeholders and manage your team. Therefore, you should carefully determine how you will manage the interruptions that generally accompany events of this magnitude.  Do you expect staff to shoulder the additional responsibilities or will you hire a professional team to provide assistance?

4.  How will you engage your supporters?

Some organizations are challenged around ways to keep donors informed and engaged after the event.  As you work to build your financial future, the quality of your interactions will be key.  Among the high-level touches sophisticated donors will expect are invitations to curated cultivation and scholarly events, in-person updates on your beneficiaries progress and where you see them in your organization’s future.

5.  How will you tell your hero stories?

If you showcase your beneficiaries during the event, you must do this in a way that honors them and presents their accomplishments in the best light.  Remember everyone will watch how you treat those you have pledged to serve.

Hosting your first signature fundraiser is not easy. However, once your event is fine-tuned, and enjoys a loyal base of committed supporters, it will prove to be profitable for your bottom line.  With proper planning and patience, you will be positioned to achieve six-or-seven figure event success.

If I can support your efforts, please contact me at Monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

With kind regards,

Monique

 

Lessons Learned From Leaders

shutterstock_128200328Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A dynamic group of young men and women have invited me to discuss my profession and the lessons I’ve learned from working with leaders.

As expected, summarizing my role as a fundraiser and event planner required some time as I am addressing a group of young adults. However describing what I’ve learned from business and organization leaders took a little longer than I expected. With so much to share, I wanted to provide information that would be useful, cause them to think and enhance their lives.

Here is my short list:

  1. Leaders value partnerships. While a large part of my job is to identify needs, assess risks and organize talent, I am signing onto the organization’s mission. I am wedded to its success.
  2. Leaders value time. I always plan to be on time and make the most of every minute we have together.
  3. Leaders value preparation. I always prepare an agenda for it shows I am paying attention to the organization’s needs.
  4. Leaders value professionalism. My skills, attitude and enthusiasm are always on display.
  5. Leaders need time to adjust to new partnerships. When working with a new client, I always allow extra time to build rapport.
  6. Leaders value flexibility. During meetings, I understand that the agenda serves as a guide, fundraising objectives may change and each team member learns at a different rate. As such, I must be prepared to make reasonable shifts when needed.
  7. Leaders value the bottom line. I am transparent about all costs, why additional resources might be needed and how the investment will add to the success of the project.

Thank you for spending a few moments out of your day with me. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at Monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

With kind regards,

Monique

Do I Have Time to Plan A Successful Fundraiser?

shutterstock_58942066Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Time is certainly moving at a fast clip and we are already in the second week of February. At this pace spring will arrive before we know it.

Recently a member of a community-based organization inquired if there is enough time to plan a fundraiser in May, which is three months away. This will be their first major event and they are feeling a bit anxious. The date and venue will be finalized this week.

For me, this question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. As a professional, my role is to outline the steps involved, create a strategy to ensure a successful outcome and help set the stage for future fundraising efforts. Last week, I met with the organization’s leaders to discuss their needs. I created an agenda and posed questions to guide our meeting and serve to set the stage for internal conversations.

Today I am sharing some takeaways from our discussion. If you find these tips to be helpful, I hope you will add them to your toolkit when planning your next fundraiser.

  1. What is your budget for this event? How much money would you like to raise? How much do you need to raise to break even? This will help determine how much to charge for underwriters and lead sponsors, tables and individual tickets.
  2. Do you have a list of donors and prospects? If so, what shape is the list in? Is it current? When was the last time it was updated?
  3. How engaged are your Board members and stakeholders? Can you count on them to identify additional prospects, make appropriate asks and provide their personal financial support?
  4. What is your vision for this event? Would you like to host a luncheon or dinner? If you plan to host a dinner, is this a formal or semi-formal occasion?
  5. Do you envision a special time before the event so that Board members and organization leaders can personally thank underwriters and lead sponsors?
  6. Have you thought about your support team? How will the event be managed and executed? In addition to partnering with a fundraising and event management professional, who will help with public relations and communications?
  7. What is the call to action? How will you engage supporters in your work after the event? Who will create the follow-up plan?

I will provide the answers to these questions, along with tips on how to plan and executive successful events, in future blog posts. Until then, if you have questions or if I can be of assistance, please contact me at Monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

With kind regards,

Monique

Tips for Effective Crisis Management

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

There is one thing special event planners know for sure — the highs and lows of this business are real!

One week, we may be celebrating a successful event or product launch. The next week, we could be navigating a plethora of event-related challenges.  What happens when things go wrong?  What safeguards can we put in place?

Former NFL Senior Vice President Frank Supovitz, who is now President and CEO of Fast Track Events and Entertainment, planned Super Bowl XLVII and recalls vividly when the lights went out in the Superdome.  Today, I would like to share his sage advice on how to manage during a crisis.

Before I share the “Dos and Don’ts” here are Frank’s 6 Ps for event planning.

PROPER PRIOR PLANNING PROVIDES PROFESSIONAL PROTECTION

Here are Frank’s Dos and Don’ts for Crisis Management.

  1. Don’t Panic.
    Panicking doesn’t solve anything.  It paralyzes decision-making.  This is your time to Lead.  Even if you don’t quite know what to do, it is important to keep everyone working together for solution.
  2. Don’t React.
    This is a time for measured decision-making.  Keep in mind, you are reacting to a symptom of what is wrong, not the cause.  Do Assess What’s Going On.  Avoid paralysis through analysis.  This is a time for rational decision-making.
  3. Don’t Get Caught By The Predictable.
    Always think “what if.”  As the event leader, this is the time to play “preventive defense.”  Determine Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.
  4. Don’t Walk Alone.
    In order to be successful, you must have a great team in place.  Empower them to make decisions that can help you in your time of crisis.
  5. Don’t Be An Information Hog.
    Secrecy has no place during a crisis.  Always communicate with your team and provide updates as frequently and clearly as needed.
  6. Don’t Take Your Eye Off The Ball.
    Remember to prioritize.  Don’t spend your time focusing on what happened 2 hours ago.  Try to stay in the moment and manage what is taking place now.
  7. Don’t Blame.
    Assessing blame is the last thing that you should do.  After the event is over, you and your team should spend quality time investigating what went wrong so that you can build in contingencies for the future.
  8. Take Time to Rehearse.
    Bring together your team and rehearse your event several times before it actually begins.  This process will allow you to build trust and confidence and allows for contingencies.

In closing, I thought you would like to hear from directly from Frank.  Please follow this link to learn more about What To Do When Things Go Wrong At Events.

Frank Supovitz, President & CEO, Fast Traffic Events
Frank Supovitz, President & CEO, Fast Traffic Events and Entertainment

Happy Planning!

Monique

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Credits:
Frank Supovitz appears courtesy of Event Innovation Forum as recorded by Biz Bash Events and Entertainment – http://www.bizbash.com.

 

 

Obtaining Clarity Around Your Vision

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

It is no secret that we, as event planners, find parties and gatherings to be exciting.  This is one of the main reasons why we work such long hours; frequently allowing event-related plans to permeate our weekends and holidays.  We have seen how excited guests are at the chance to come together and celebrate an organization they truly believe in.

When working with organization leaders who are new to this field, we must be mindful for they have so much new information to process as they continue to manage their day-to-day operations.  Before you can confidently say to your client “Let’s Begin” you will have spent countless hours setting an attainable goal.

Several questions will come up at the outset.  However with perseverance and cooperation, from leaders and stakeholders, your next steps will be clear.  Here is one idea to start the conversation.

SAMPLE GOAL

Our organization is looking to raise funds for our mission and program.  Our annual gala, with a fundraising goal of $xxx is critical to our success.  Through this event (and event-related outreach efforts), we will look to engage our existing donor base, and recruit new donors.

HOW WILL YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?  HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO CONSIDER.

  • Our organization would like to raise $xx from xx number of individuals and xx number of corporate sponsors.
  • We would like to see xx% or our top organizational donors attend the event.
  • We would also like to see last year’s event donors increase their giving by xx% this year.
  • Lastly, we would like to see xx% of the guests commit to an additional gift the day (or night) of the event.

With a clearly defined goal, you can guide your organization forward with confidence and purpose.  There will be many challenges along the way, but there is nothing more rewarding than moving past challenges with demonstrated successes.  Remember, this is why we do what we do!

Lastly, we love success stories and would appreciate hearing from you.  Please take a moment and let us know what you think.

Happy Planning.

Monique

4 Strategies For Transitioning To Fundraising Events

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Organizations host events for several different reasons.  Some will focus primarily on friend-raising, while other will focus on fundraising.  What I have come to realize is that sooner or later most organizations will need to make the transition from an awareness building event (friend-raiser) to an income generating event (fundraiser). Can this be done?  Absolutely?  However it will require great focus and a shift in attitude to be successful.

Here are 4 strategies that I have used, along with many others, to help guide this process.

1. Begin with a well-designed fundraising appeal.

Very often organizations spend a great deal of time on the logistics and mechanics of an event (which is important) but overlook the fundraising appeal.  Here are some ways to change this dynamic:

  • Work with leaders and stakeholders to describe what the organization does to benefit the public.
  • Develop talking points so donors will understand how supporting this event will benefit the organization.
  • Encourage leaders to practice how to ask for financial support from individuals and corporations.
  • Help create a specific “ask.”  Work with the organization to develop an outcome that will be hard to say no to.

2. Remember that each donor is different so you must have different ways for them to engage them.  Be sure to allow time for research and tailor your appeal accordingly.

This tailored approach is often referred to as segmenting your donor base.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Donors come from many locations, have many interests and will engage differently around what resonates with them.  Some may gravitate toward an educational initiative, while others would appreciate hands-on service. 
  • Always consider the donors’ past history of support.  This includes the size of their gift, upward trends and time of the year they tend to give.
  • Make sure that your organization’s appeal is broad enough to keep donors interested and engaged long-term.

3. Create a dynamic communications plan around the event.

Before the event takes place, there are many touch points you can use to engage your donors.  Here are some components to add to your organization’s existing communications plan:

  • Online communications and appeals.
  • Written appeals in the form of letters, invitations and case studies.
  • In-person one-on-one meetings.
  • Personal phone calls from organization’s leadership, stakeholders or volunteers making the case for the event and why their support is vital.

4. Help your organization transition from an “attendance-based culture” to a fundraising culture.

  • Please remember that this step will require the most time and effort.
  • Some organizations pull back when it comes to focusing on money.
  • This resistance may be due to their comfort with a narrative they have embraced over time, such as “we had a great turnout and the support that we need will eventually show up.” Does this sound familiar?
  • If the answer is yes, and the organization is truly making a difference and changing lives everyday, why not bring them to the next level?
  • Coaching leaders and stakeholders to ask for the support they need, will allow the organization to produce even more measurable results.

Of course there are many ways to plan events and we read about them daily.  However with an increased need for funding, well-conceived fundraising events are even more important to an organizations mission and programs.  There are many resources to guide you through this process.  I often refer to the dynamic team at Network for Good for additional insights. The points listed here are grounded in my professional experience and have been openly discussed by many fundraising specialists.

I would love to hear about your experiences.  If you have a moment, drop us a line and tell us about your success stories.

Happy Planning!

Monique

Planning Is Key

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

At some point in your career, a client (or organization’s leader) might say to you “I been thinking about our upcoming event and I have everything figured out.  By the way, I will only need your involvement with the event’s logistics.”

Depending upon your workload, you might be tempted to view this as a huge blessing.  However, if you are in the business of producing successful fundraising events, you will instinctively know that logistics are one important piece of a very large puzzle.  Based on my past experiences, I can assure you things are always more complex than they appear.

This may sound like Event Planning 101, but before you can confidently say “Let’s Begin”, I strongly recommend that you spend some time working with your client (organization’s leaders or stakeholders), to determine their definition of success.  Achieving clarity around the vision and goals is essential to planning and executing a successful event.

Need some ideas on how to direct this process?  Here are some questions you might want to ask.

  1. What is the purpose of this event?  Why is it important to your organization?
  2. Who is your target audience?  What do you know about them?  Where do they gather?  What event spaces appeal to them?
  3. Once you understand where your audience gathers, what is the best venue for the event you are planning?
  4. After you have engaged your audience, what do you want from them?  What is the call to action?  What would you like for them to do?
  5. Are you confident this event is the best way to engage them?
  6. Will this event serve as a compliment to your organization’s existing programs?

What you learn during this “fact-finding stage” will equip you to guide your client (or organization) through the process of setting attainable and measurable goals.  Here is one example for your consideration.

POSSIBLE GOAL

To raise much-needed financial support from existing donors.
Remember, you do not want to stop at this point!
The next step, and perhaps most important, is to encourage existing donors to recruit their business colleagues, friends and family to participate.

Lastly, their participation can be measured in a couple of ways including:

  1. Purchasing a ticket or table required to attend the event.
  2. Responding to event-related outreach efforts, such as making a contribution, if they chose not to attend the event.

Hopefully, over time, your organization will have new donors to add to its list.  Remember, so much needs to happen before you can confidently say “let’s begin.”  Asking the right questions, and probing for answers, is the key to a successful event.

In future posts, I will share some of the metrics that you can use to evaluate your event’s success.

Until next time, happy planning!

Monique