|By Guest Blogger and Fundraising Expert
More than 100 nonprofits have registered for this week’s webinar, Turning Your Fundraising Event into the Best Party in Town. Want to join us? It’s Thursday, February 26 at Noon Eastern (9:00 a.m. Pacific). Registration is just $35 and it’s also included with your All-Access Pass.
In fundraising, we are staging “events” all the time.
We bring people together in a social situation in order to cultivate and thank donors – and to promote our causes. Our events may be a time to thank and honor donors, or it may be a house party to introduce new people to the cause. We may be trying to raise money from an auction, ticket sales, and sponsorships. Our events may be a social to introduce a new executive director to the community, or the board’s annual holiday party. It may be a pizza party to honor and thank your volunteers. No matter the reason, “event management” is a particular focus of study for all fundraisers.
Well, the bad news is that we have all been to way too many “events.” And they haven’t been much fun. Maybe they’ve even been a bit of a grind.
Do you know the definition of an “event?” It’s when you throw lots of folks into a room and hope they survive – much less manage to have a good time.
Do you know the definition of a “party?” It’s when you throw a lot of folks into a room and make sure they have a good time.
Yet I find that the nonprofit events I go to don’t have much of a focus on the guests.
Guests may have name tags with ribbons if they are lucky, but they too often feel lonely and awkward in the middle of a sea of people. For all we know, our top donors may be having a miserable time because they don’t know anyone.
And here we are scurrying around fretting about the sound system, the food or logistics, when the most important folks in the room may feel abandoned.
We can do better. Focus on your guests. They are your main concern – not the food, the wine, the decorations, the servers, the program, or the venue. Your guests will come first.
You welcome them, introduce them around, tend to them and make sure they are not lonely standing in a corner desperately looking for someone to talk to. This is the way to treat everyone at a social gathering any time and it’s even more important when you are trying to raise money.
No matter why they are there, we want our guests to feel really special.
So let’s take the study of parties seriously. Forget events – when we decide to get people together for our causes, lets throw the best party in town – one that is totally focused on our guests and the good time they are having.
Let’s make people feel welcome even before the event. We can give board members special roles as hosts and hostesses. Let’s get the right people there. Let’s make the party so very special – even ahead of time – that everyone will want to come.