Adding That Special Talent to your Nonprofit Event

Erica Nicole dedicates song to police officers

No one doubts how important it is to have a celebrity at their nonprofit event. Celebrities add immeasurably to nonprofit special events. They add excitement, attract media attention, increase ticket sales, and help secure sponsors.

Imagine how exciting it was to have Erica Nicole  volunteer her time and incredible talent at the Police Officers Ball.

So, how can you make this happen for your nonprofit event?

As simple as it sounds, the best way to identify that special someone is to ask friends and family. I promise that everyone knows someone and/or knows someone who knows someone with that special talent.

Start with your board. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Okay, so now you have a list of names. What next? How do you motivate that someone special to join your cause and participate in your special event?

Rita Tateel, founder of the Celebrity Source offers five ‘secret’ tips for recruiting celebrities:

1. Put yourself in a star’s shoes and ask, “What’s in it for me?” – Before you ask a celebrity to participate in a special event, ask yourself this question as though you were that celebrity: “What’s in it for me; why should I do this?”

2. Make a list of everything the celebrity might want to know. – Once a celebrity has agreed to participate, make a list of absolutely everything he or she might want to know and do — every question this personality might have — from arrival to departure. Then list all of your answers. The best way to help make celebrities (and their representatives) feel secure is to demonstrate that you have considered every little detail and have anticipated their every question.

3. Respect their time. – Time is a celebrity’s most valuable commodity; don’t waste it. The bigger the celebrity, the less time he or she has. There are so many people wanting a piece of the celebrity’s time, celebrities have to ensure that the time they do have to make an appearance is time well spent.

4. Keep briefings brief. – When a celebrity briefing session is necessary, determine whether it must be in person or if it can be handled by phone or e-mail. Of course, we all would rather meet celebrities in person. But, remember my Tip No. 3 — that time is their most valuable commodity.

5. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep, and keep all of the promises you make. – This business is so much about relationships. The quickest way to ruin a relationship with a celebrity or his or her representative is to not come through with something that was promised.

Adding talent to your nonprofit event takes a lot of planning. Every detail is important. But, the benefits far outweigh all of the work!

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs!

“In the complicated world of nonprofit organizations, it can seem like everything goes wrong at once.”

Barbara Kibbe and Fred Setterberg, Succeeding with Consultants

I know when I take on a new assignment I am going to step on some toes. After all, I am usually hired to work with nonprofits facing challenges – a struggling board, a scheduled special event without implementation plans, an organization without a strategic plan or a rainmaker founding board member who decides to leave, but won’t let go.

Many times, the stressors are external – loss of funding, harsh political climate or a lack of buy-in from donors on signature projects.

Be sure and conduct a thorough situation analysis to begin. Identify challenges to focus your work. Here are 10 key questions to guide the process:

1)      Does the organization have a fundraising plan that identifies different sources and funding activities?

2)      Do all the board members contribute money?

3)      Is there a donor management program in place?

4)      Is there consensus about the organization’s vision and mission?

5)      When is the last time the bylaws were updated?

6)      Are marketing and development programs based on services and programs instead of the mission?

7)      Does the community know the nonprofit?

8)      Is the IT infrastructure adequate?

9)      Is there an updated strategic plan and is it followed?

10)   Does the organization have published ethical guidelines for governance and fundraising? Are they followed?

So, be prepared to ruffle some feathers. And, be prepared to read the warning signs when it is time to go.

But, before you leave, be sure and share the nonprofit’s successes that were accomplished while you were there.