Lessons learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan

Honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan - photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

Lessons Learned honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan – photo credit Reis Birdwhistell

I had the news on in the background while I was reading. My pups Kiwi and Keno were asleep on the sofa.

Then I heard a news report about First Lady Nancy Reagan’s links to Atlanta. Ms. Reagan was honored at a PRIDE (National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education) conference.

I sat straight up and yelled “Wow, that was my event!”

The conference had programs for young people and adults. Highlights included workshops with internationally recognized drug abuse experts, community leaders and law enforcement officers. Celebrity participants included wives of world leaders and well-known actors committed to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No project.’

Included within the 2-day conference was a fundraising luncheon featuring Mrs. Reagan hosted by then Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta. How fortunate I was to learn how to manage the luncheon from Ms. Be Haas, a founding partner, Haas, Cox, Alexander.

I want to share event management lessons learned from honoring First Lady Nancy Reagan:

Event management is like a high wire act without a net!

Plan ahead:

  1. Start with robust brainstormingBring your board members, volunteers and new voices to the table.
  2. Set clear objectivesYou’ll know what is important during the event and you’ll be prepared to gauge your effectiveness.
  3. Create a timeline A comprehensive timeline will guide you from start to finish!

Promote, promote, promote. Although there are a lot more channels to use to create buzz, the fundamentals of matching your choices with your target audience preferences and goals still stands. Now you want to create a Digital Ripple to promote your event.

Brand Your event – Special event branding creates an experience and/or memory that participants will not forget. And, done properly, the event will carry the brand promise of an organization and add to the public knowledge of its mission, vision and values.

Don’t forget to evaluate your event – Evaluation is critical to your success.

Protocol is of utmost importance! – The lessons I learned working with First Lady Nancy Reagan and the wives of world leaders continue to position my success when managing special events.

Most importantly, I always learn as much as I can about an honoree or guest speaker, from their favorite foods to their favorite color.

I discovered Nancy Regean’s favorite color was red.

Can you see the red streaks in my hair?!

Do you have any event management tips you’d like to share?

As always would love to hear from you!

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf!

The peer-to-peer family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

The P2P family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf! Also known as Peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P uses the power of your constituents to engage their friends and family.

It’s one of the major driving forces in successful nonprofit fundraising. The peer-to-peer family tree breaks down the different kinds of P2P fundraising and shows how big the P2P family is becoming.

So imagine my delight when Tate Handy at Digital Third Coast  asked if I would be interested in sharing the P2P family tree developed with Plenty Consulting.

Then Tate offered an introduction by Plenty Consulting CEO Jeff Shuck. I was thrilled!

I’ve been a big fan of Jeff Shuck since 2007 when I first learned of his new paradigm incorporating special events to the classic development pyramid. For me it was a gateway to P2P fundraising and empowering others to ask on your behalf!

Jeff Shuck introduction to the P2P family tree:

  • Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year?
  • Did you participate in a Tough Mudder as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project?
  • Did you attend Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon, or purchase lemonade from one of Alex’s Lemonade Stand?

If you did any one of these things, I’ve got news for you- you were participating in an act of peer-to-peer fundraising, whether or not you knew it at the time.

Peer-to-peer fundraising, also known as P2P, is one of the most thrilling nonprofit fundraising channels being used today, and it’s growing at a fast pace. Yet despite its growing fan base, many people aren’t quite sure how to explain P2P to others. Here’s what you need to know.

First of all, in traditional fundraising, organizations reach out to their network to donate. In P2P, meanwhile, organizations ask their constituents to reach out to people connected to them on behalf of your cause. Instead of only having access to their donors, organizations can connect with their constituents plus their constituents’ networks, creating an unending collection of potential new donors. Your audience expands exponentially, and with it, so does your ability to do more to fulfill your mission.

Abundance is out there and peer-to-peer fundraising helps you unlock that abundance to be distributed to those who need it. What can your network do for your cause?

Deborah’s Comments –

P2P fundraising empowers others to ask on your behalf! P2P engages your network in a number of ways:

  1. Ensures successful events
  2. Integral part of cause marketing initiatives
  3. Fuels the engine for digital campaigns

We’d love to hear examples of how your nonprofit engages and empowers your network by involving constituents in P2P initiatives.

The lure of independent fundraising events

In a recent blog post Fundraising without special events? No Way! I review the importance of integrating special events into development, which I learned in 2007 from Jeff Shuck, President & CEO Event360.

Giving hierarchy integrated with special events

Today’s post focuses on Independent Fundraising Events (IFE). These are activities designed and run by non-staff volunteers to raise money on behalf of a specific nonprofit. They are conducted locally with minimal support from the beneficiary.

The types of activities that these local supporters conduct are quite literally endless. They can range from a bake or garage sale to a wine tasting or gallery opening.

One of the major advantages of IFE is that the costs are covered by the independent event organizers.

Other benefits of IFE –

  • An effective addition to any organization’s development portfolio.
  • Independent fundraisers are more likely to have a much stronger and direct emotional connection to the organization.
  • Great way to give these highly dedicated individuals the opportunity to match their passion without the limitations of traditional fundraising events.

How can your nonprofit support Independent Fundraisers?

Develop a secure website with useable tools:

  • Media Kit and publicity guide
  • Approved logos, graphics, banners, stickers
  • Informational pieces
  • Personal fundraising page for online donations
  • Printable donation forms
  • Registration materials
  • Staff support

Of course, there are IFE Challenges. As described by Zach Anderson, at the Canadian Internet Summit, these include:

  • Budgeting Revenue from events
  • Justification of Costs
  • Connecting with IFE donors
  • Providing supplies and giveaways
  • Reputation/Brand Risk
  • Shortage of staff support
  • Unavailability of board members to participate

Two organizations standout to me as providing great support to independent fundraising events. These are:

Alex’s Lemonade Stand – Fighting Childhood Cancer One Cup at a Time

 

Team Fox – Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

What better way to augment your special events than with independent fundraising events?

Fundraising without special events? No Way!

Do special events really make sense throughout the classic giving hierarchy?

You bet!

That was the message of my recent teleseminar Fundraising without special events? No Way!

Actually I can’t imagine a development plan that does not integrate special events at every level.

I first learned about integrating special events into development in 2007 from Jeff Shuck, President & CEO Event360.

This is a different way to focus on events. Seen this way events are part of a holistic development effort that integrates into everything you do as an organization to raise money. And, it is strategic – the events are focused on the mission. At each level of your giving paradigm you will find distinct events for distinct goals.

Giving hierarchy integrated with special events

 

  • Annual campaigns have three key elements: direct mail, special events & personal solicitations. Be sure and use all three! These volume events can cultivate annual and major gift prospects. Sample volume events include charity walks, runs & bike-a-thons.
  • Major gifts come from individuals, corporations & foundations. Successful major gifts campaigns are all about stewardship and cultivating relationships with current donors and prospects. Targeted events should be part of your cultivation toolkit. Targeted events include a variety of specialty parties from black-tie galas & tribute dinners, to wine tastings, private museum events and themed parties. Guests who attend these events often engage in live and/or silent auctions, and enjoy entertainment and/or dancing. The common denominator is that most honor a member of the community who supports your cause.
  • Capital campaigns are generally considered to be fundraising efforts for major capital purposes. The goal is usually millions of dollars and at times more. 60 -80% of money is raised during the quiet phase. This phase ends with the launch, the public rollout of the campaign. Launch events are a great way to create enthusiasm about your campaign and to get media attention.
  • Until recently no one did events to recognize people who had made bequests to their organization. But, it is so meaningful to hold smaller more intimate events to thank and recognize these donors and to reaffirm the impact their testamentary donations will make. It brings these donors closer to the organization and helps ensure their commitments.

Remember, special events at every phase of your campaign provide that experiential experience in which an emotional connection can be made.

Please let me hear from you with questions about special events and fundraising. You can reach me at deborah@creative-si.com.

Position Sponsorships as a Marketing Vehicle

Sponsors Mingle at Special Event

We all know that sponsorship is important to nonprofits and businesses alike. Sponsorship is all about marketing.

 Securing sponsors is about building effective partnerships that enhance your organization’s mission and the sponsoring company’s business goals. And, sponsorship is about raising money.

All sponsors want to reach as many people as possible in their target market. So, the more you know about your organization’s audience, the better your chances of securing sponsors.

But, do we know why special events are so significant in developing these relationships?

Chalk it up to experiential marketing – the best way to deepen the emotional bond between a company and its customers, through creating memorable experiences.

Experiential marketing is a well-known concept to business marketers. It is a great way to deepen the emotional bond between a company and its customers, through the creating of memorable experiences.

The goal is to establish a connection based on emotional and rational response levels and always contains a face-to-face interactive element. This is exactly what sponsors want. And, during a well-designed and executed special event this is exactly what they get!

On the other hand, special events are a way for the nonprofit to interact with its audiences including donors and prospective donors. They help raise the nonprofit’s voice in a crowded field and ensure that people will know who they are and what they do and why they are important.

Sponsorship guru Patricia Martin brings real focus to the issue with her post Just One Question to Ask a Sponsor in her Culture Scout blog post. She notes that no matter what shape the economy is in, sponsors still need to market their brands. And, what better way than in partnership with a cause?