Building a good support team for your event is like self-care for the fundraiser organizer(s). You have worked hard. A lot of care and organization has gone into planning your event. Make sure that when the rubber meets the road, you have a good team that is ready to take the reins. On the day of the event, you need to be present to deal with those last minute details: your outfit, the late texts from volunteers or guests, the programs that did not arrive until the last minute, the silent auction clipboards!
When the focus of the evening turns, from the organization being supported, to the people who have actively turned out to support it, your fundraiser goes from being an obligation to being the social event it needs to be to be a success.
Whether it be a small room or a large one, fundraising hosts need to be able to work the room. You need to be free to really engage with your guests. Avoid minutia. Finishing touches on the hors d’oeuvres, worry about napkins, or flatware, bussing, taking out trash, dishes, meeting with deliveries or staff while guests are present, these should all be delegated. In order to focus on your donors, you are going to need some help. You and your associates need to appear relaxed, even if you know that there is a large amount of capital riding on the success of this event.
Fundraiser Team Building
Ensure your support staff is large enough to really take care of your guests.
When we first started helping local fundraisers we would be really lenient with bending our standard staff to guests ratios. We understand. Committees can often be very focused on a projected budget that may or may not have been realistically drawn. We used to agree to send less staff than we were comfortable with. We saw these events flounder. Guests were left waiting at the bar. Hors d’oeuvres hastily plated. Trash got left a bit too long. Each of these problems individually are not too big of a deal, but all together it made the events seem sloppy, harried. We want your event to succeed, so we try to quote enough staff to really take care of our clients. Read more about how we determine appropriate numbers.
If you have a strong event captain or manager and a good team of professional waiters and servers, event details can seem to take care of themselves. Some hosts will use volunteers as servers. If you plan to do this, we suggest hiring a few professional servers who can organize and communicate with them in your stead, and be focused solely on the minutia of the event. For large events captains can help organize teams of volunteers to accomplish specific goals.
Whichever route you choose, we would be happy to meet with fundraisers and review your food/beverage service plan. We can evaluate your staffing/volunteer numbers and help you make a plan that will help to ensure your event goes smoothly.
Shifting the Volunteer Paradigm
Consider using your volunteers as socialites rather than servers. Your volunteers are likely to know fellow attendees. They will be able to make introductions, inform guests of your non-profits’ advances in the last year, and generally connect with guests. Having professional waiters and bartenders allows your guests to feel like the VIPs they are. Use your volunteers in an even more important capacity, representing the soul of your organization.
Bring your staff and or volunteers into the venue well before your guests. You’ve spent weeks or months planning your event. You have distilled all of this down into timelines, diagrams and punchlists. The staff need time to meet with an organizer and absorb all of this precious planning so that it does not go to waste. Ninety minutes is our standard prep time. This allows our staff to meet with an organizer, discuss the plan, and help you with set up. Large fundraising events will want to arrange a captain’s meeting before your event. Better yet, an event manager can be even more autonomous.
Brass Tacks: Money Matters
Now, we know that you are concerned about spending money when your goal is fundraising. However, we also know that a well put together fundraiser suggests competence and projects a picture to your donors of a thriving organization, one worthy of support. We also know that you are on a budget, and that you probably report to a committee. Please let the committee know that BRES offers reduced pricing for fundraisers, both local non-profits and some national organizations. Some of our fundraising clients will set out tip jars on the bar whose proceeds directly benefit the foundation. This can be an excellent way to offset staff costs in addition to the budget set out by the committee. Guests are usually prepared to tip for service and this is one more way to get wallets opening in your favor.
Before the party you should not be racing around wondering if the doughnuts donated by that sweet new bakery will actually get plated and served on the dessert table. Rather, you should feel as though you can pour yourself a glass of wine, toast your loyal volunteers, and remind the director of your important donor’s new project.