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Galas Galore

Tips from a pro on how to organize your best committee this year

Fairfield County is extremely lucky to have some of the brightest philanthropic committees out there. From intimate charitable dinners to glitzy gala receptions, hundreds of dedicated community members donate their time and ambition each year. Having organized numerous gala events & served on several committees, I thought galas would be a relevant topic to cover. So before your next meeting, consider these organizational tips to help form a successful committee.

1. Personality vs. Profession

When forming a committee, it’s tempting to find out who has expertise in Finance, Marketing, Sales etc. and form your committee based on past or current profession. While it’s important to have diverse skillsets, it’s more important to gel as a team. While the Ex-Wall Streeter has great financial aptitude, does she care about exciting sponsorship packages? Make sure members see the larger goals. You are going to be spending a lot of time together & need to respect various perspectives.

2. Plot your course

Consider creating a master calendar & production schedule for each area. My suggestion is to create mini calendars or buckets. For instance, PR may be one bucket and within that you have a list of all the possible PR outlets that will be contacted, the date by which the contact needs to be reached and any elements you need to supply to that PR outlet. At each meeting, the PR committee member provides a short update from her master production timeline. Each area; finance, marketing etc. can have their own mini calendar that feeds into a larger master schedule.

3. Create an exclusive sponsorship role

Two key areas, PR & Sponsorships, often fall upon everyone to handle. Consider identifying someone to fill a Sponsorship/PR role and create compelling partner packages at different tiers. Consider providing businesses exclusive social media tweets, facebook posts or give them photos for their websites. Make donors feel part of your event vs. simply asking them for something. I can assure your profits will increase.

4. Call an expert, use their time sparingly

Last year I was asked to attend one committee meeting to help organize a prestigious group plan their yearly gala. I was happy to volunteer a few hours. At the first meeting, I saw a fractured group who was more concerned about asserting individual power. The committee trickled in late and spent the first 20 minutes comparing their kids college applications which led to extreme tension and a waste of time. The President couldn’t organize her committee and instead told me I “should” attend every meeting thereafter to mediate any battles! This committee was more threatened by having a professional planner help than caring to work me over for a little no cost guidance. I told them I'd attend a few meetings but would only do it if they had a format for running the meetings in a timely fashion. While it’s a great idea to have someone, like a professional planner, attend a few meetings—set the tone to embrace their input and treat that professional like a partner.

5. Thank you

One surprising detail that often gets overlooked is simply thanking partners. Sounds crazy right?! Committees are naturally busy but may forget to send a thank you e mail, letter or call donors who have put forth the effort to help. Last year I got calls from donation partners I brought in for the gala mentioned above asking me if the committee received their gift. The head of the committee was so frantic trying to organize that she never acknowledged her own donors. Don’t let this be you. Be kind to everyone and make sure they are thanked. Designate someone to do this.

6. Come on board for the nitty gritty

My final piece of advice is to make sure your committee is willing to do the nitty gritty come event day especially if you have not hired an event planning company to manage. You might have the star Treasurer on your team but is she willing to spend 5 hours hanging fabric on event day? These are worthwhile questions to ask because, as you know, every member of your committee is valuable. Don’t bring folks on board who want to dress up and network at the event. Bring the folks willing to dress up, network and take out the garbage during the event.

Don’t think twice about reaching out to the pros to seek new perspectives, ideas and organizational methods. A simple plan can be all you need to net your most successful event yet. Good luck!

Have questions about organizing your gala committees? Please post a comment below or e-mail me at michele@michelesinacoreevents.com.

Michele SinacorePrior to starting michele sinacore events {mse}, Michele Solomon-Sinacore worked for over 11 years in Corporate Sponsorship Marketing & Events for some of the largest brands in Sports, Entertainment & Media. mse offers customized event services that include full planning, month-of event coordination & event consulting. Michele creates top-notch events always with an eye for fresh style and an aim for clients to enjoy (vs work) at their events.

Michele Sinacore Events
Event Planning and Coordination for Corporate and Social Events
(203) 292-9332

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