A Nonprofit’s Gift Bag Survives the “Travel Worthy” Test

A guest post by Claire Meyerhoff, our resident media expert and event producer extraordinaire

The “Goody Bag” is a nonprofit event staple, but once you’ve extracted and enjoyed the goodies, do you even notice the bag? Will you bring it home, especially when you you’re traveling by plane halfway across the country? Is that canvas bag, wicker basket or pretty shopping bag worth lugging through an airport?

Which brings us to the nifty paint can pictured here.  I just got back from the Sioux Falls YMCA Golf Classic in South Dakota, benefitting their after-school programs for middle schoolers. I’ll be writing more about it after Kivi and I recover from our Nonprofit Marketing Guide book party in Washington, D.C. tonight!

When I arrived at my hotel in Sioux Falls, I was presented with this paint can, and opened it right away — using the attached paint can opener (love it!).  Inside was a plethora of goodies including a CD by recording artist Steve Azar, who, lucky for us, would be performing at the event.  He’s a Delta Blues guy, hence the event theme, “Delta Blues.” Hence the Blue paint can, and if you have really good eyes you can see that the script on top says “Sioux Falls Premium Events Color Collection.” The whole thing is clever and classy, but most importantly, it makes a connection, which often goes missing in nonprofit marketing.

Got a theme? Work it…any way you can.  Even with a can:

  • A gift bag is more than a gift bag.  It’s an opportunity to communicate with your donors, supporters and friends.
  • As a “billboard”  for your event, it’s a place to showcase sponsors.  See that attached paint can key?  The presenting sponsor’s name,Starmark Cabinetry is prominently featured. And since Starmark is a company that helps you make your home more beautiful, well, there you go — the whole “home improvement” tie in — tied in with the theme, Delta Blues, which ties into the featured performer, Delta Blues star Steve Azar.
  • The wonderful graphic designer who donates pro-bono hours can do more than brochures, programs and pamphlets.  Ask them about projects they’ve worked on recently and you might get a cool idea.

So when it comes time to put together those gift bags, ask yourself this question, “Is this gift bag travel worthy?”

The Sioux Falls YMCA Golf Classic’s “bag” certainly is, because when I was packing up my stuff, I just couldn’t leave it behind in my room at the Holiday Inn.  I carried it through security at the Sioux Falls airport, where the TSA lady wasn’t phased at all. She said, “I’ve seen a bunch of these already today.”

I put it under the seat in front of me on the small plane to Minneapolis, carried it through the Minneapolis airport, then put it under the seat in front of me on the bigger plane to Raleigh. A lot of people gave me curious looks. A Delta flight attendant thought it was “pretty neat.”

It certainly is.

Do you have a “pretty neat” gift bag or other event mainstay that “makes a connection?” Send us a photo and Claire just might feature it here on Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

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  • Edwin

    NICE

  • Thank you for writing about this Kivi!

    I think too often we get an opportunity to give something away for our nonprofits, and we just think, “How can I do the cheapest thing possible?” And while a paint can may not be the cheapest thing, it's certainly a memorable thing!

    We've got to start generating more innovative marketing ideas at our nonprofits, and I think, for this, we've got to start respecting and funding nonprofit marketing as a necessary part of our missions.

    Would you agree?

    Mazarine
    http://wildwomanfundraising.com

  • No I don't have yar. If I buy then I will send it to you seen…Thank you for posting your experience.