A fundraising event is practiced all over the world with a few goals in mind, awareness and continued support, or new support. Most often these events are set up in Halls and large ballrooms where large corporate sponsors are invited, the local A-listers who attend these types of events. Add a few celebrities and voila, you have a following. But the question is do you really have a following or a following for the evening? Is this where people show up just to be seen, do they talk shop, or maybe they promote their own businesses and talk about their latest news, who knows?
As a marketer, I’ve faced this issue several times. We make the mistake of developing a fundraising event for a single evening with no lasting support. Sure it was fun, everyone ate well, laughed, drank was inspired- for the moment. And when it was over. Yes, the organization generated some capital for the next month or so but they find themselves in the same position a month later. And then the whole process must repeat itself.
How we as a marketing company used this sort of event to build a continuous connection with our invitees. We recognized that when an event was in a large hall it was really hard to personally discuss with each individual how he or she can help, why it was so critical to have continued support, and how both parties can benefit from this connection. So instead of 2 events per year for the organization, we recognized that with a group of 20 to 30 people in a professional but casual setting at a smaller venue we were able to run a fundraising event weekly. Not only were we building our database we were guaranteeing ourselves that these very people would most probably show up every 3 or 4 months at our events.
Using a restaurant that has a private or semi-private room, a TV or screen to showcase the studies, and most importantly great food, yes you heard it, “GREAT FOOD,” the food needs to be memorable, it needs to be delicious and it needs to make a statement. The food needs to say you matter to me and I want to make sure you understand that. Food is the single most important conversation opener, add a great presentation, personal one-on-one discussions with each guest, and a smart marketing program that is built to maintain the connection and your program will develop a personality of its own.
We tested this plan at a local restaurant in Montreal, it was a little off the beaten path but they filled all the criteria. Restaurant Il Boccalini in Ville St-Laurent had all the required criteria, The room, the TVs, the atmosphere, and the food was absolutely delightful and most of all the staff were amazing. The connection between the staff and the guests was a magic bonus. The restaurant staff was able to accommodate our guests in both official languages and just for kicks added some wonderful Italian hospitality, we couldn’t ask for more.
The fundraisers we hosted started to show traction, the revenue stream started to build with ease, and the presentation got better and better as time progressed. The relationship between the guest and the program managers was more than just a connection to financing the future month, friendships grew, networking was created and the programs serving the community were effective.
In closing, I would like to thank Restaurant Il Boccalini for their support and outstanding food and service. A special shout-out and thanks goes out to Chef Fabio and lead Waiters, Erik and Tania. If you’re planning an event or special evening give Il Boccalini a call or visit their website www.ilboccalini.com