Fundraisers tend to go to lots of events. Some are better than others, with amazing and cool things we need to use for our own upcoming events; some we have to simply get through. There are some basic and standard planning elements to most events: scheduling, getting people there and checked in, fooding and drinking them, making the presentations, thanking guests and sponsors enthusiastically, then getting everyone home with a good memory of the event with their goodie bags.
As a nonprofit event planner,having done events big and small, I find myself frequently wondering how some of these organizations were able to afford things:a fantastic venue and decor, the additional photographers, better entertainment and goodies. Events are notoriously labor- and money- intensive, and while worth it, they require a lot of money and effort to produce them well.
My jealousy peaked last week when a friend was invited to a kickoff party sponsored by an airline for their new super-exclusive flying options. The entertainment was to be Harry Connick, Jr., at a private estate in Beverly Hills and catered by a really famous chef. And you know the giveway was going to be leather or a watch or something equally over the top. We had heard the party budget was over $1 million, and while not ostensibly a fundraiser, the point was to sell interest and ultimately tickets for the airline’s new offering.
Beverly Hills police had restricted the roads
All entering cars and limos had to drive single-file to the guard with his strictly enforced list, then turn back down the road to the parking area, where there the guests had to wait for the shuttle up the private driveway and pass yet another guarded entrance. Not a smoothly considered, or functioning, process. The backups started immediately and only got worse.
Thirty minutes to then wait for a shuttle, really? The tray -passed appetizers looked great; each tray was vacuumed up by hungry guests as the poor waiters barely got out of the kitchen. The guest list of 350 was thirsty as the three bartenders built martini after Cab after club soda with lime at breakneck speed and never caught up. The back ups continued from the parking lot to the bar.
The outdoor tables were set up was beautifully and roped off until after cocktail hour and until more of the guests arrived (who were there but waiting for the shuttle) . At 8.30, the crowd was getting a bit restless, it was a Thursday, a school night, and everyone was hungry. Finally, the ropes were opened, guests were allowed to their tables.
So where was the piano player? He was playing, off to the side of the stage.
No one was listening, all were too busy ripping and tearing at the bread on the table.
In order to demonstrate the personal attention of the airline, the party planner had strictly limited the number of waiters to 2 per table and to ONLY serve a certain course, so wine or water or anything else was going to have to be someone else. While the white gloves were a nice touch, a few more bodies would have been better. It was 8.30 pm and salads were just being set. Harry was doing his best but the conversation centered on the combination of excess and incompetence being demonstrated by the hosts.
My friend left after his salad at 10.30, no dinner, desert or show.I never heard what the gift would be.
Plan, and plan some more
There are times in life when Schadenfreude, the enjoyment of someone else’s problems, can be enjoyable but this was not one of those times.
The primary impact of these kind of events is the memories and connections your guests make. Those good experiences are the takeaway to strengthen your bond with your constituents and reinforce your mission and message. Poor planning isn’t limited to small budgets; it can totally wreck even the biggest budgets and nicest parties.
Planning, planning and then Plan B and Plan C. Drive the entryway, walk through as a guest would, see what their impressions will be. The devil IS in the details. Let us help you produce a first class event, with much less cost and much better memories
Call us today 310 828 6979
image credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_eidvs80_01o/RkC3UCMYK1I/AAAAAAAABR0/nvh-604h8LA/s400/partybailey2.jpeg