Liliana Sanelli explains why events can provide more benefits than simply raising funds and awareness for your organisation.
Events – all kinds of events – provide opportunities. Even though we have entered the age of digital disruption with more and more of us addicted to social media, each of us has an undying thirst for human interaction.
Events are a fantastic mechanism to mix with others and when this is tied to a cause to make a difference in people’s lives, not only do people want to support your charity, if they are passionate about the cause they want to be seen to be part of this movement that is making a difference. Let me explain why events are opportunities for a charity – let alone any business.
If done correctly, events provide fundraisers with the opportunity to promote their cause to the masses. Pointing out the obvious: it’s not every day that you have hundreds or thousands of people united to participate in an event where they can hear about the great work you do. The event is the tool to let people know why you do what you do and it allows you to promote your primary vision. A great example of this is WaterAid: every event it holds has its primary vision of creating a world where everyone, everywhere in the world has safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Once you get the message to your audience about why you do what you do, ask them to support you. Create a list of options that will appeal to them. When they attend the annual Doxa Racing Lunch, for example, attendees know they need to raise at least $45,000 to support at least one cadet to go through the cadet program. The event acts as the tool to promote why Doxa exists and to explain the difference Doxa makes in these young people’s lives through its various programs.
An event is a tool for you to put your charity up in lights and show the work you are doing and hope to do in the future, and you want to make sure you have created enough buzz
to start a conversation afterwards. You want people to walk away and really feel they want to continue being part of your journey.
Y-House CEO Georgia Retallick held a gala dinner to promote the work it does to get young people out of aged care. The passion and drive she expressed during the dinner encouraged so much conversation afterwards via social media, it attracted some celebrity ambassadors to help her promote her cause.
The follow-up is as important as the event itself. Thank all the people who attended your event and use this opportunity to start discussing either next year’s event, an upcoming project or even how they can work with your charity. Remember, having options for businesses or individuals to support you are ideal, however be flexible. You need to be able
to cater to the needs of the business or individual donor to make sure they feel like they are making a meaningful difference.
A great example of this was the Taking the Lead Breakfast held for Guide Dogs Victoria in December 2014. Guide Dogs’ puppies were at the breakfast and it was explained the nonprofit needed $35,000 to raise just one guide dog. The event was a win for Guide Dogs Victoria as it gave the organisation an opportunity to use the puppies as a vehicle for promoting all the other work it does aside from training guide dogs for the vision impaired.
By continuing the conversation after the event with some of the corporates, a major bank was engaged to sponsor a puppy. Ever since that event that bank still supports Guide Dogs Victoria.
Events provide opportunities. As a charity, think outside the square and look at what those opportunities can mean for you.
Liliana is CEO of events management company Perfect Events and has been a leader in the Melbourne events industry for more than 17 years.