Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Census... Be Counted

Stand up and be counted.

The 2010 Census is almost here and we want you to be counted. The 2010 census will provide the vital information needed to effect funding to your non-profit, to your state, to your budget.

Take some time to inform your constituents, staff, donors, and board members about the importance of the 2010 Census. All forms need to be returned by April 1st.

Here is some information from about what's at stake.
Why is the Census so important to the nonprofit community?

Lower income and more mobile populations, precisely those served by many nonprofits, are frequently undercounted by the census, leading to underfunding of critical services and infrastructure and under-representation in government. Nonprofits can play an important role in making sure their communities are fully and accurately counted by educating them on the importance of the census and how to participate. The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network (NVEN) is committed to providing tools and resources to help nonprofits engage their communities in the 2010 census through our Nonprofits Count! campaign.
How is Census Data Used?

The data collected by the Census next year will be used to determine a host of issues critical to the nonprofits community, including but not limited to:

* Decisions about what community services to provide, and how to distribute over $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year for the next 10 years! Examples include spending on:
o Title 1 grants to educational agencies
(school districts across the nation)
o Head Start programs
o Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (food grants)
o Public transportation
o Road rehabilitation and construction
o Programs for the elderly
o Emergency food and shelter
o Empowerment zone
* The drawing of Congressional, State House and State Senate district lines
* Distribution of Congressional seats to states

These are just a few examples of the ways in which Census data will be used in the next decade.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Event Solutions Magazine Talks To Us About Seating

Choosing the Right Seating

By Terah Shelton
Event Solutions Magazine

Have you ever paid close attention to where your attendees decide to sit at your meetings? Did you know seating configurations dictate the flow of your audience, the sociability of the event and the overall experience for the attendees? Unfortunately, most event planners leave seating arrangements and layouts up to chance, but where your attendees sit can influence the effectiveness of a meeting or event.

According to Paul Radde, author of Seating Matters, when you bring people from across the country and sit them in simple straight rows so that they can’t see each other, they get none of the value of non-verbal communication and it restricts and limits networking. “When you consider a great deal of seating at meetings is done in straight rows—which totally blocks the ability to see and be present to and other people—the last step in meeting execution is missing,” he says. “In certain respects, they would have seen more of the person if they were on a video seminar or webinar.”

Proper seating will and can enable successful event energy flow, says Eddie Diaz, owner and executive event producer for Encore Creations. “The placement of conversation areas, dining experiences and spectator’s arrangements will help with any event return on the objective and investment,” he says. “An event is an orchestrated experience with specific objectives. Knowing what you want out of the event can help with the selection of seating and placement.”

When considering seating for events, Samantha Swaim, a fundraising and event consultant, advises event planners to think about the two biggest elements you are trying to control with guest seating: program and sociability. “What configuration will best strike the balance of guests’ comfort and fun while also allowing for the focus and attention on program elements?”

Diaz suggests event planners ask questions and know exactly what they want their guests to feel and experience. “What is the objective of the meeting, event, party and so on?” he says. “Based on the answer, you can creatively and successfully design a seating plan that pushes the client’s desires to the edge and achieves the intended results.”

Moulin BRO
When Samantha Swaim was put in charge of the Moulin BRO, a Moulin Rouge-themed gala and auction in October 2007, she knew it would be a challenge. “Moulin BRO was a fundraising gala and auction for a political organization called Basic Rights Oregon. Because so many attendees in the audience are community leaders, business leaders and politicians, the audience is very engaged in networking and connecting to each other during the event,” she says. “This can be a challenge because the goal of the event is to focus guests on the mission of the organization and raise money for the cause.”

Her challenge was how to meet the needs of her audience of 700 people, getting them to socialize and to focus their attention on bidding. She decided to break the event into two sections and provide a unique seating arrangement. “First, we had an hour dedicated to socializing, A standing cocktail party with no seating allowed for guests to move freely among each other, talk, connect and network,” she says. “If there is limited seating and lots of activities, then you are forcing your audience to engage in the activities. This is great when you have a silent auction, a carnival, a casino, a cocktail reception. It forces people to connect and socialize.”

Next, she moved the audience into a ballroom with formal seating but kept the arrangement loose by seating guests at 8-foot-long tables. Swain typically uses 72-inch rounds that only allow guests the opportunity to talk to the person on their right or their left. This configuration gave them the opportunity to connect attendees to five other people within arm’s length, while keeping their focus toward the stage. “It eliminated the usual problem of half your audience having to crane around to see the program and gave guests more opportunity to connect,” she said. “The result was that the event felt like a huge celebration because people had so much fun connecting to each other.”

Read the rest of the article at EVENT SOLUTIONS

Obtaining & Retaining Sponsors

Hot off the press... Smart Meetings talks to us about getting creative with your sponsorship outreach!

Thanks to Sandi for a great article... lots of good information.

10 Ways to Obtain and Retain Sponsors

Author: Sandi Cain
February 2010

Your Roadmap for Success
10 Ways to Obtain and Retain Sponsors
When one of Samantha Swaim’s Portland clients lost its sponsorship due to budget cuts, she scheduled a meeting with the former sponsor to discuss alternatives. Swaim, principal of Samantha Swaim Fundraising LLC, works exclusively on nonprofit fundraising events, and she thought there might be a way to salvage the relationship and still meet the needs of her client. In the end, the company used in-house resources to provide marketing tools and printing to the group and recruited employees to volunteer during the event. The bottom line: “They’re returning with a cash sponsorship next year and will still do the volunteer components,” Swaim says…

Read Further at SMART MEETINGS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Should we sell art in our auction?

One of the biggest components of putting together a silent or live auction is the acquisition of your auction items. We often get asked about the use of art in auctions. Before we answer that, we always want to know about the audience, because matching your auction to your audience is the key to fundraising.

Art—paintings, sculpture, statues—is one of those commodities whose value can be quite subjective. Unless you are specifically cultivating an art collecting audience, and catering to an art savvy crowd, the odds are slim that you will make what the art is worth on the auction block. Quickly, a $1,200 painting can stall out at $300, and if the artist is in the room it can be a hard moment for everyone. Artwork can bring in great returns, but only when it gets the showcasing it deserves in front of an audience that clearly understands its value.

A great way to incorporate smaller level artistic donors and appealing auction items is to heavily solicit smaller ticket items from the world of crafts. Often these can come from folks already affiliated with your organization. There’s a fantastic market in silent auctions for knit items, jewelry, stationary, purses, quilts, and more. It’s a great way to have items that are unique to auction, allowing your patrons to have a one-of-a-kind takeaway that encourages them to return the next year because they know they can see things they can’t buy somewhere else.