Joe and Joel tak about how to blow the doors off when putting on a World Class Event.
1.) FILL THE ROOM WITH FANATICS: Fill the room with people who are fanatical about you. Make it hard to get too, not easy to get too. I like doing black tie events for this very reason, it thins out those who won’t walk the extra mile. There are four stages that someone goes through in becoming a partner with your org. First they are Indifferent then they become curious, then you move them to open, and lastly they become enthusiastic. Great events are made up of mostly enthusiastic people and few potentially high cap open people. You don’t want to fill the room with curious and open people, and you definitely don't want a room or curious and indifferent people (that’s what our local PRC does) and this is why I’m against low barriers of entry. Free events or selling out tables and having donors bring their friends doesn’t bring in the super dollars because the room is concentrated with more people that are not enthusiastic than the other way around. You want your event to feel like it’s on fire, everyone has been anticipating it! No one is there for a free meal or even there for a favor of a friend who invited them.
2.) BLOW THE DOORS OFF: Blow the doors off. At our events we charged $500 per plate and we spent it.. on them in big and little ways. I have had billionaires tell me that our event was the best event that they have ever been too. And that’s because we made it.
3.) GO THE EXTRA MILE: For your top donors, I’d recommend not only comping their tickets but getting their hotel room for them for one night, and again go the extra mile. Not the cheapest hotel you can find, get them the Trump hotel. Make it feel very appealing to go to. We would put a box of chocolate covered strawberries on their beds.
4.) MAKE IT UNIQUE & EXCLUSIVE: Make unique and exciting invitations. People feel like they are invited to something exclusive when they get an expensive invitation in the mail. Find the best wedding invitation in your budget and make that. We sent out metal invitations or long slender scrolls in a tube. You can have different invitations for different donor groups. Your top people should get the top vip treatment. Our invitations were always fun and they made people think that this event would be totally different. Invitations should go out six months in advance. However, Save the Date cards should go out ten months in advance, those just need to be fancy postcards.
5.) REMOVE OBSTACLES: Offer child care on the invitation. This is one obstacle that some people can’t get over on their own when traveling across the country to an event. Have good child care with some ideas that are really fun for the kids. One of my favorite child care ideas is that you give each kid a little personality test and when their parents pick them up they get a little card that tells a little more about their child.
6.) PERSONAL INVITES: Personal invitation. Everyone who you want there needs two or three personal invites from you starting one year in advance.
7.) MAKE IF FEEL LIKE FAMILY: Your event should feel like a very exclusive club, in some ways more like a big family event than a fundraiser. It’s important that people have lots of time to comfortably network before and after the event. It’s like a reunion of kindred souls.