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Here at Event 360, we know from experience that fundraising events are a team effort. Teams work best when people get to know one another as this fosters positive collaboration. So, with this in mind, each month one of our employees will tell their story here. We hope you enjoy getting to know members of Team360. This month, meet Jennifer Gross:
Over the past year, I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing compassion on a variety of levels – as a caregiver, as a volunteer and as an event fundraising professional. Those displays of compassion have run the gamut – from exemplary and unexpected to insincere and a bit rough around the edges. That got me thinking about the importance of consistency in compassion.
One of my core beliefs about effective strategy is that it is designed to support a shared aspirational vision. In other words, the best strategies support the achievement of a big goal, or dream, or vision. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you effectively get there? We all want to be called to something bigger than ourselves. For some, that “something bigger” is simply personal prosperity. Most of us, though – particularly those of us in the social impact space – yearn to be part of something more noble than self-interest. We long for the opportunity to move the needle on the human condition.
The best visions, in turn, are rooted in a set of shared values. Every organization values something; those values define how we pursue the vision our strategy is meant to help us achieve. I’m not talking about the list of five or six attributes that are written somewhere in your organization’s annual report. I’m talking about the ways we actually behave; the things we show our constituents that we find important through our actions. In this way, strategy and leadership are intertwined.
This post from our own Molly Fast is featured on the Parents magazine goodyblog. We agree with Molly that kids make great fundraisers. Sign up for our enews to learn more on this topic. We’ll be offering fundraising materials for kids and the classroom soon.
I’ve written before about how I’m the go to fundraiser in my family. Previously, I was helping my cousin raise money for juvenile diabetes. But today I’m writing about how I helped my 6-year old niece, Julia, raise money for heart disease.
I received an email from my sister stating “Julia's learning about children with heart disease and wants to do her part to help. She'll be participating in Jump Rope for Heart. In addition to raising money for the American Heart Association, your donation will help Julia's school win free physical education equipment. And the class that raises the most gets to have lunch and recess with the gym teachers--another big incentive for Julia! Thanks for any amount you donate.”
This is the final installment of a three-part series.
Don't make promises you can't keep. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it's definitely something to keep in mind when you plan your fundraising incentive program. Let's take it a step further: You should be thinking about fulfillment every step of the way-from the first moment you consider which rewards you want to offer until each one has been delivered to the participant who earned it.
Fulfillment is not easy. First, think about how complicated an incentive program can be on its surface. From promotion to procuring and producing items, to determining who’s earned what — each activity presents its own set of challenges. Now add the responsibility of getting the right rewards into the right hands — dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people — at the right time. Oh, and picture doing this on a rainy day, in the mud, to hordes of tired and antsy (and totally deserving) participants that you want to come back (and fundraise!) again next year.
“But, but, but, I am responsible! You told me I am accountable.” Yes, you are.
For some reason the same conversation happens in clusters. This is the one I am having lately. It got me thinking about the conventional wisdom: “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” The fact is, when it comes to leadership and managing teams, blindly following that path can be a recipe for disaster. And while it might sound strange, the way to get things done right is often by letting someone else take the reins.
The fact is delegation does not come naturally to many smart managers. By the time they reach a leadership position, their instincts and talents have been reinforced (after all, they didn’t get where they are by being ineffectual as individuals), which tells them that they are, in fact, “the right one for the job.” Most managers have also deeply internalized the notion that time is money, and when you take the time to explain and teach and then wait while another person gets the job done, well … “I should have just taken care of it myself.”
It’s National Volunteer Week and Katie Sisum, one of our volunteer managers, is sharing her insights and experiences on our blog. Read her post from earlier this week. We know that countless volunteers are needed to make fundraising events a success and we’d like to thank volunteers everywhere for all you do.
Everyone knows the phrase, “treat others how you’d like to be treated” and even though we all know it, this doesn’t mean we always think, or in our case, create volunteer programs this way. Why not? I recently made a visit to the Tucson Village Farm and noticed a staff member interacting with their AmeriCorps team. Of course, memories flooded back of my two years of AmeriCorps service working with a variety of nonprofits. Although a very unique volunteer opportunity, I learned many lessons from my experiences that allow me to create better experiences for our event volunteers.
There are not a lot of things one can be sure of in this world, including the notion that there’s always going to be help out there when you need it. Problems or challenges—including the kind that your organization is dedicated to addressing—can at times seem insurmountable. But if you accept the notion that there is kindness in people, you can also be sure that that a combination of creativity and communication (and the magic of the Internet) can exponentially multiply a single act of kindness to achieve otherwise impossible goals. Consider the case of Caine Monroy.
I stumbled upon Caine’s story last Tuesday on a quiet little blog on Tumblr. The video was launched on Monday. By Thursday morning, Caine was on all of the morning TV shows. As of today, Caine’s Arcade has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube and 2.6 million times on Vimeo. Over $165,000 has been donated to his college fund in just one week. The Goldhirsh Foundation has offered a $250,000 matching grant to the video's creators to create the Caine's Arcade Foundation (you read that right - a Foundation doesn't even exist yet!). There is even a Wiki page now that is tracking all of Caine’s media coverage. Here’s an interesting contribution from the Christian Science Monitor.
Welcome to National Volunteer Week. Katie Sisum, one of our volunteer managers, will be blogging about her insights and experiences this week. We know that countless volunteers are needed to make fundraising events a success and we’d like to thank volunteers everywhere for all you do.
If I’m the right hand of the volunteer show here at Event 360 then Volunteer Production Manager Meredith Cleasby is the left hand. We work in tandem to create unique experiences for our volunteers and would be lost at times if we weren’t pumping feedback to each other. When I congratulated Meredith on stepping up this volunteer week to make a difference, you might be surprised to hear her response: “It makes me uncomfortable…and gives me nightmares!” Meredith took my challenge and registered for the Boston Marathon as a volunteer. Lucky for her she got assigned to the exact task that gives her the willies — bus loading! I think that’s great (insert overly happy grin on my face)! Not only is she volunteering, she is challenging herself to help out with a task that is not her first choice. She is starting off her volunteer week right, now how are you beginning it?
We know first-hand that planning events is hard work. We’re human and have made our share of mistakes. What we learn from mistakes is hugely important, and applying this knowledge to improve the event experience for participants and volunteers is crucial. Last year, Sarah Coniglio participated in an event that went awry. Here’s what she learned, along with her and Patrick’s suggestions to event organizers on how to make things better next time.
Two major fundraising events took place over 2,000 miles apart late last year. Each was a logistical nightmare that involved overcrowding, safety concerns and a miserable participant experience.
Each was also a cautionary tale for those of us in event development and production. In this age of social media, after all, word travels fast when an event doesn't go well. The reaction can quickly snowball and exact significant brand damage.
This is incredible! These people are incredible! How did you even think to ask the question in that way? This has been my experience at TEDMED. For those of you who may not know, TEDMED “is a community of people who are passionate about imagining the future of health and medicine.” I am at their conference, which they call a “grand gathering” and I whole-heartedly agree.
Everywhere I turn, there are great stories from people with awe-inspiring intelligence with the will to make a difference — two from yesterday stand out and have my brain working overtime. The first was a mother, Virginia Breen, whose daughter has autism. That daughter is now a published poet (I Am in Here) defying the opinions of doctors, specialists and other experts who believed she was low functioning because of her Autism. But Virginia persisted and continued to search for someone that would enable her daughter to communicate. She found that person, a woman with a special technique, who taught her daughter to type her thoughts, unlocking the incredible person within — the poet and more importantly the young girl. How did her mother persist in spite what she was told? What experiences would compel other people to not accept initial impressions and continue to search for unlimited potential? This mother was motivated by her love, but also had a quality that kept her searching, no matter what obstacles were placed in her path. What experiences and unique personality traits allowed her to not accept what appeared to be, but stay focused and driven until she found the answer she knew to be true?