Thursday, October 17, 2013

Meet Avery

By Samantha Swaim
Meet Avery.

He’s proof that it’s never too early to start to teach the power of volunteering and philanthropy.

Avery recently attended the Raphael House Founders Dinner—solo. He got dropped off at the University Club where the event was held and volunteered to sell wild card raffle tickets before the live auction.

But when the program started, he took his dinner seat. During the special appeal, he put his paddle in the air as the lead gift on behalf of his grandfather's construction company and their support of Raphael House.

Here’s Avery, in his own words talking about the experience:

How old are you?
13 years old.
What’s your favorite book? 
One for the Money
How long have you been going to fundraisers?
This was my first fundraiser but I have been volunteering for 2 years at Raphael House.
How did that start?
I volunteer once every other week and instead of volunteering my normal day they asked me to help at the Founders Dinner. 
What have you done as a volunteer at events?
I sold raffle tickets at the dinner but I normally help do projects around Raphael House.
What makes you passionate about Raphael House?
I feel passionate because I love helping families and would not want to be in their situation. I feel that if lots of people start helping we can find homes for all the families in need.
Have you raised a bid paddle before?
I have never raised a paddle.
How did it feel to not only raise a paddle, but to be the lead gift in the evening’s special appeal? What was that moment like? 
I felt great doing it. The moment felt great and I felt great giving to a good cause.
Were you nervous?
I was not nervous at all.
Did it change how the folks at your table looked at you?
I'm not really sure that they looked at me differently, but I'm sure people at the dinner did.
What do you hope other young folks out there get out of your story?
I hope that they see that I'm helping and go out and try to change something in the world.
When you’re not out changing the world, what’s your favorite thing to do?
I love playing soccer and hanging out with my friends. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Event Themes Can Extend Far Beyond Centerpieces

Sometimes planning a fundraising event can seem like stitching together seemingly disparate elements with 50 colors of thread. Your organization wants a keynote. And to give away awards. And to have some live music. And a special appeal. And the executive director has a lot to say about updates for your organization over the last year. They can all be important pieces, but getting them to create a unified whole can be a challenge.

Think about using an event theme to bring it together. Event themes can extend well beyond décor, centerpieces and what your guests wear. Theme can actually dictate content and create a coherent and effective narrative for the run of your event’s program. It can shine a spotlight on your mission and the importance of your work before the event has even started.

At Urban League of Portland’s Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner, the use of a theme brought it all together. This year they constructed their event around Cultural Relevance in Healthcare Delivery, and it gave them the unifying platform they needed to knock it out of the park.

Now this important theme wasn’t printed all over everything, or used as a tag line from the stage. Instead they focused the content of the program on equal access to healthcare. They had that be their thread. From this platform, they tied their lead sponsors, honoree and keynote speaker together, all of whom spoke to or represented this idea on stage.

Their President & CEO Mike Alexander spoke about African American Oregonians’ access to healthcare, they honored Dr. George Brown President and CEO of Legacy Health systems and their keynote Dr. Mark Nivet spoke about how providers in the medical system need to provide care with greater cultural competence.

This made their program compelling and rich, both of which were evidenced in the success of their special appeal. By that point in the evening the case for the vital work of Urban League of Portland and its allies had been made. They had created the programmatic momentum they needed to move into asking the room for money.

Great themes can be ideas and concepts, and don’t have to be relegated to what guests can dress up for. They can advance the education of your audience on the work of your organization and can generate thought, advocacy and ideas. This cohesion can create a very compelling and focused program that naturally brings all of the elements together for successful fundraising and can bring your audience right into the work that you do.