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

shutterstock_504293464 (Aug. 2018)

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

 

Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events || The Courage to Begin

shutterstock_610541396

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Frequently I have the pleasure of speaking with non-profit leaders who are looking to host their first six-or-seven figure fundraiser, or reinvigorate a dormant event, as they recognize the potential impact on their bottom line.

Many of these leaders frequently attend fundraising events as guests of organizations within their niche, board members of charities whose work they support and/or financial contributors of causes that resonate with their core beliefs – and they recognize the benefit of adding similar events to their development portfolio.

However, as they must focus on more the more pressing needs of identifying donors and stakeholders, defining their organization’s funding model and creating seamless ways for supporters to contribute to their work, they have little time to devote to the steps involved and may feel unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

So what options do they have?

To assist with this process, I am writing a 9-part series of articles titled Positioning Your Organization to Host 7-Figure Events™ as a resource.

In this series I will share information leaders, and their teams, can use to:

  1. Set the Stage for Success
  2. Create Momentum for their Event
  3. Make the Case for Support
  4. Collaborate with Corporate Honorees
  5. Create Successful Fundraisers for Different Audiences
  6. Create a Grand Affair with Lasting Appeal (GALA)
  7. Create an Invitation for Maximum Benefit
  8. Work Effectively with Vendors
  9. Assemble All the Pieces

From my experience, these strategies will help non-profit leaders set the stage for 7-figure event success.  So look for these articles every 2 weeks.

Here’s to your success!

With kind regards,

Monique

The Honoree/Organization Balance

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©shutterstock

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As a fundraiser and event planner, one of the most promising moments comes when a client secures a corporate honoree (Chair and Chief Executive Officer of a global corporation). With this development, the organization is ready to implement a strategic fundraising campaign to meet, and exceed, the income goal.

Throughout my career, I’ve learned there is a delicate balance that must be maintained when working with a corporate honoree. It is equally important for organizations to acknowledge honorees also have expectations. This unique partnership can benefit both parties now and in the future. Today I am pleased to share some additional insights to add to your toolkit:

  1. Corporate honorees have great influence but do not come with an open checkbook. As leaders, they understand what is needed and are committed to supporting the fundraising campaign. As you enter into this process, please keep in mind support can take many forms, among them: (a) a one-time lead gift, (b) a multi-year sponsorship or (c) a one-time lead gift coupled with a pledge to secure additional support from their networks.
  2. Corporate honorees are careful with their investments; they take pride in knowing their resources (time, money, key personnel) add value to the bottom line. Corporate leaders will expect the organization to remain true to its mission, deliver on its promises and take an active role in fundraising.
  3. Corporate honorees are busy and their time is limited. Communication generally takes place via the honoree’s designee; an executive-level manager who works closely with Chair and Chief Executive Officer. Please honor and work within this structure.
  4. The organization should always work to strengthen its relationship with the corporate honoree. When appointing a staff member to work with the honoree’s designee, please select a senior manager who has good interpersonal skills and understands corporate etiquette. This will go a long way to building a lasting relationship after the event.
  5. The organization must be quick to say thank you and acknowledge all gifts, large and small, that come from the honoree’s efforts.

As always, I am here to support your efforts in any way that I can. For information, please visit http://www.eventstrategies4success.com. If I can be of assistance, please reach out to me at monique@Eventstrategies4success.com.

With kind regards,
Monique

Creating an Event Budget to Ensure Success

shutterstock_211973863Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Fundraisers and event planners know the important role budgets play when working with business and organization leaders. The event budget serves as a guide when hiring vendors, can serve as an effective negotiating tool and will help keep track of expenses. While this process can be layered, and usually requires several revisions, it cannot be minimized. Today I am sharing some insights into the expense budget planning process. I will discuss how the expense budget impacts fundraising goals in future posts.

Over the years, one technique I have found to be helpful is to group expenses into categories. This is a quick way to compare items from multiple vendors and make adjustments as needed.

THE VENUE
Selecting the perfect venue gives leaders an opportunity to impress donors and stakeholders. When reviewing options, comparing the cost of each venue is key. Here are some items to examine:

  1. Venue (Room rental fee)
  2. Venue (Room taxes)
  3. Venue (Additional set-up time)
  4. Reception (menu)
  5. Reception (beverages)
  6. Reception (premium bar service)
  7. Reception (limited bar service)
  8. Dinner (menu)
  9. Dinner (wine and beverages)
  10. Speciality Dessert
  11. Catering Service Charge (ranges from 18 to 21%)
  12. Food & Beverage Tax (waived for non-profits)
  13. Tasting Fee
  14. Additional insurance usually in effect the day of the event and for a few days after

SAVE-THE-DATE NOTICE, THE FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN & INVITATION
Once the venue is confirmed, the next step is organizing the campaign for support. I realize we live in a time where e-mail and social media are heavily used, I have come to realize many corporations, foundations and donors require – and appreciate – written requests for support. Social media and e-mail outreach can be used as a follow-up to a written request.  Here are some items to include:

  1. Save-the-date card (designer fee)
  2. Save-the-date card (printer fee)
  3. Fundraising package (designer fee)
  4. Fundraising package (printer fee)
  5. Invitation package (designer fee)
  6. Invitation package (printer fee)
  7. Postage
  8. Messengers and/or overnight delivery
  9. Programs and journals to be distributed at the event (designer fee)
  10. Programs and journals to be distributed at the event (printer fee)

COORDINATING THE PARTS
As we know, large fundraisers involve many moving parts. For events with a 7-figure fundraising goal, and an attendee goal of 750 -800 guests or more, the organization’s mailing list will need to be in the thousands. Coordinating these items before they are mailed requires hours of preparation. If in-house resources are not available, hiring an outside vendor is critical. Here are some line items to include in the budget:

  1. Mailing list preparation (includes bad address removal and updates)
  2. Fundraising package preparation
  3. Invitation package preparation

CREATING THE VISION FOR THE EVENT
This is where leadership and the dinner team work with the event decorator to plan the look of the room, signature colors and the impression they want to make on donors and supporters. Here are some items to include in the decor budget:

  1. Linen
  2. Chairs
  3. Chair cushions
  4. Centerpieces
  5. Stage decor
  6. Step and repeat banner
  7. Speciality lighting package
  8. Speciality lighting (delivery, installation and breakdown)
  9. Fee for the delivery and pick up of all rental items
  10. Ropes and stanchions
  11. Pipes and Drapery
  12. Plants to use in key areas

THE PROGRAM
Once guests have been seated, its time for the show to begin. Think of how embarrassed the President or Board chair will be to learn his/her remarks can’t be heard? If a video is planned, the playback must be exceptional. Here are some items to include in your budget to ensure a professional presentation:

  1. Podium
  2. Wireless microphones
  3. Teleprompters
  4. Video screens
  5. Video recorders
  6. Audio-visual technicians
  7. Video playback units
  8. Program producer
  9. Floor manager
  10. Floor assistants
  11. Entertainment/Musicians
  12. Entertainment/Instruments
  13. Professional photographer
  14. Stage construction

A FEW ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT ITEMS
From special gifts of appreciation to honorees and guests, to saying thank you to dinner chairs and key staff members, planning for these items early in the process will ensure no one is overlooked. Here are some items to add to this category:

  1. Gifts and giveaways for guests
  2. Special awards for honorees
  3. Honorarium for emcee and keynote speakers
  4. Transportation for emcee and keynote speakers and other VIPs
  5. Transportation incurred for key staff participating in monthly planning meetings
  6. Hotel accommodations for emcee, keynote speakers and other VIPs
  7. Thank you gifts for dinner chairs, volunteers and key staff members who worked on the event
  8. Refreshments provided at monthly planning meetings
  9. Miscellaneous office supplies
  10. Delivery costs to send items to the venue on the day of the event

MANAGING ALL OF THE DETAILS
As my colleagues will attest, planning a fundraiser of this size requires great skill and coordination. Many organizations will look to a professional event planner to ensure the careful management and execution of details. Here are fees you should incorporate into your budget:

  1. Event planner fee
  2. Event planner overhead/administrative costs
  3. Event planner out-of-pocket expenses

Thank you for spending a few moments out of your day with me. I hope today’s post has been helpful to you. If I can be of assistance, 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

Time to Reconnect

©Stephanie Badini Photography
©Stephanie Badini Photography

Dear Colleagues,

After a brief hiatus, it is good to be back. I look forward to connecting with you and hearing what you’ve been up to. I am also working on ways to engage you further in this process and allow you to share your social and fundraising event success with us.

Please stay tuned for updates to our Facebook page where you will be able to access additional resources and ideas. I am also working on a new Pinterest page that I will unveil in the new year.

Thank you for your patience. I look forward to helping you create success one event at a time.

With kind regards,
Monique