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5 Things Our Tech Team Learned About Running A Nonprofit Dinner

This week my team an I took a step out of the data world. Typically, you will find us behind computer working on a database, an algorithm, automating a system, or a blog post. Instead, my team and I ran our first charity dinner focused on freeing women and children from human trafficking.

We decided after our first year we really wanted to give back. Our team has a lot of backgrounds in countries that suffer greatly from human trafficking. We hate the idea of individuals losing their freedom for the benefit of others in the 21st century. Thus, we organized a dinner focused on raising funds for Rescue:Freedom.

Overall, the evening went great. The diners were happy, the support staff was amazing and the food was wonderful. We had a lot of awesome people we want to thank including Rough Draft , The Flowering Fern Wedding & Event Planning, 2bar Spirits, Temple Distilling,Theo Chocolate, Meadow Mobile Sound, Caffe Vita and Via Tribunali Neapolitan Pizzeria. The event would have not been a success without all these amazing people. Our speciality is data, and programming. Thus, planning a charity event was an interesting twist!

Being that this was our first charity dinner, we learned a lot about how to better approach the next event we throw. We wanted to share some lessons we learned, and picked up as we went through the struggle of finding corporate sponsors and patrons for the evening.

Write A One Pager

As consultants, we are very a custom to writing one pagers. Whenever we interact with a new client we will write up a one pager that will discuss the value proposition we can provide the company we are engaging with.

This helps executives quickly see what we can offer their teams.

The same is required when approaching companies requesting corporate sponsorship. Of course you want money, that makes sense. However, you need to be able to explain why the corporation should give to you. What are they going to get out of sponsoring your event?

A one pager might seem like overkill. However, remember, asking for corporate sponsorship is not so different than sales or closing a deal. There are a lot of similar charities and events that constantly are seeking sponsorship. Anything your team can do to look more professional and organized will provide greater trust and intrigue with large and small corporations.

What a one pager does is allow your plausible corporate sponsors an opportunity to see what benefits they can gain from providing sponsorship, as well as increase their interest in the event. They might also want to send their own team members as well.

The one pager should include:

  • A summary of the event
  • A summary of what the nonprofit you are working with does
  • A section related to what the corporation will get out of sponsoring the event.
  • How many people will be at the event
  • Are there different tiers and what are the benefits of each

Have A List Of Pictures You Want The Photographer To Capture

Our team had a lot of great brands that donated product, time, and other invaluable assets to the event. We sadly failed to get all of the generous companies and their products captured to send them now that the event is over. We are kind of bummed, because we wanted to make sure that all the companies were given proper thanks!

We knew we wanted pictures taken of the different brands items, but we never explicitly created a list. Not to stifle the creativity of the photographer. Instead, just to make sure nothing was forgotten.

Get the 501(c)(3) after picking your charity

Our team made the mistake of never actually getting the 501(c)(3) number until much later on. This is a definite point that should be on the one pager. When requesting donations many companies asked us for it and we were forced to have to rush and get the number from the non-profit. Rather than be ready to give it when asked.

Most Companies Have A Donations Email or Person…Find Them

It is tempting to just send emails to all the general and info emails at all the different companies. However, most large and even medium size companies have emails and web pages specifically focused for donations.

Don’t waste your time emailing 200 email addresses that will never be opened. Instead, do your research ahead of time.

This will increase your odds of getting your information to the correct teams. It may seem like it takes more time. In the end, it is much more effective.

We Would Have Planned For 6 months instead of just 3

Planning is always important for any event, or project. Our strategy is typically to start with your target end date and then work backwards. In technology, we know in general how long different tasks take. May it be QA, integration, scoping, etc. From there, we can set a target date with our clients and make sure we can fit all the tasks required inside, or discuss with our clients what will most likely have to be skipped or extended on their current time lines.

We did not have the same experience in planning for a charity dinner. Between scouting out locations, caters, event planners, volunteers, corporate sponsors, creating marketing materials, and so on. We believe we underestimated by about 3 months. It would have been great to market our event for about 60 days vs the 30 we had at the end of the event, but like any project, certain things can’t happen until previous steps have occured.

Another reason for the extended timeline is because newspapers and publications schedule out their stories months in advance. We had several newspapers and magazines say they would have loved to share about the event. However, their schedule was booked for the rest of the year.

So earlier is better!

Our team was very grateful for all the people and companies that helped us create a successful event. We had the privilege to work with a lot of great chefs, planners, photographers, mixologists, etc. Most importantly, we were able to raise funds for an issue many of our team members feel very strongly about. Human trafficking remains a major issue and we want to help as much as we can. We do hope we will be able to do more in the future.

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