By Erin Kirchhoff
I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to Miami, Florida last week for the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum annual conference. In my 14 years as an event fundraising professional, this was my first time representing the Event 360 team. And let me say: it was incredible.
As I was sitting in a session and taking notes on the final day of the conference, I scribbled down on my page in big, bold letters: GRATITUDE. It struck me that this one word was the thread that could tie together everything—what I was learning, what I was feeling, what I was experiencing—from the event.
Gratitude for our participants and volunteers. When you live and operate in the fundraising event space, it’s a given that you will rely on participants and volunteers for your events. You quite literally (in the correct sense of the word) could not and would not have an event if it wasn’t for them. So, it’s also a given that you need to thank them for showing up and for raising huge amounts of money for your organization. But what I learned from the conference (across multiple sessions) was that it’s not just about saying, “thank you,” or sending a handwritten note to your participants, volunteers and fundraisers. Don’t get me wrong—those gestures are hugely important. But it’s also about building programs and developing incentives to incrementally thank your top fundraisers as they raise more and more. And it’s about creating ways for the participants to voice their opinions. Post-event surveys are a must. But so are voting opportunities to select the next t-shirt design, an evening’s dinner menu, or even your next potential event location. Give your participants a voice in what matters to them and they’ll continue to deliver for you.
Gratitude for the hard work and the opportunity to make the world a better place. As event fundraisers, we are all grappling with mile-long to-do lists and competing priorities. But a conference like this allows you to step away from the day-to-day minutiae to see the bigger picture, and to truly appreciate the work we do. What we do is hard. But we’re helping to save lives. And what we do matters to so many people around the world, regardless of whether they know about us or the organizations we represent.
Gratitude for the conference. That this conference exists is something to be grateful for. The most unique selling point of this annual event is that it brings together our cohorts from the P2P fundraising space. It allows us to network, ask questions of the experts, and help guide those who are either new to the industry, or who might not otherwise have access to the same knowledge as some of the more established players. There’s nothing else like it. So, if the opportunity presents itself next year to attend, TAKE IT. We can’t wait to see you there.
Erin Kirchhoff is a Senior Manager at Event 360 and has recently joined the consumer marketing team. She’s learning to apply her previous work as a brand manager to her new role, where she develops and implements digital marketing strategies, writes content for social media, and creates easy-to-understand ROI reports. She has extensive experience with brand management and communications, having worked in both marketing and corporate communications for a FORTUNE 500® company prior to joining the Event 360 team 14 years ago. View her LinkedIn profile here.