5 Key NonProfit Risk Management Strategies for Special Events
I am honored to be able to share with you an interview with Maria Imperial. Last year at this time I was asked to attend their annual luncheon "In the Company of Women". This year it is on May 11, 2012 at the Hilton Rye Town. I can't tell you how surprised I was to walk into a room filled with 500 women leaders (and a few men) from our local business area. I was floored by the crowd. Then when the event began I was emotionally moved by the speakers and honorees.
This clearly is one of the "must attend" events of the year. And not just for women. I always thought of the YWCA as a typical "Y". I was pleased to find out how much more they are and the impact they have on women. Truly a life changing organization. Read what Maria has to say about the way in which she organizes this amazing event.
YWCA – White Plains & Central Westchester
Maria Imperial, CEO
Tell me about your event planning strategy?
The event planning strategy for the YWCA’s In the Company of Women (ITCOW) luncheon is to make the event mission-focused and fun! The event was designed to raise much needed funds but also to shine a light on the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women and our profile. To register or opportunities for support click here!
Why have you chosen to focus on one large event and eliminate most others?
Events can be very labor intensive. Many times smaller events can be nearly as exhaustive on resources as larger events from a logistical standpoint. Therefore, opting for the grander “signature” event can make the most sense. In the case of “In the Company of Women”, the model has a proven track record with other YWCAs across the country that have similar demographics to Westchester. We took a calculated risk that it would be a success, and we’re so pleased that it has been.
What are the 5 key strategies you use to make the event so successful?
1) Professional staff: large events are difficult to run effectively via only volunteers. The YWCA has a team of highly trained professionals with many years of fundraising and event experience. The wisest decision that the YWCA made was to hire an event planner who had experience with a successful ITCOW event in another city.
2) Relationship management: everything in fundraising comes down to the relationships…from committees, boards, sponsor representatives, donors, volunteers, vendors. Relationships will make or break the success of any event.
3) Enthusiasm and positive energy: There are hundreds of events each year, it is essential that our luncheon be fun and sassy. Attendees must experience enthusiasm, warmth and positive energy at the event so that they will come back the following year.
- Attention to detail…events are all about detailed planning.
- Contingency planning! Something will go wrong…having “Plan B” in place is critical to a major event’s success. It’s not necessarily the crisis, but how an organization responds to the crises that guests will remember.
If you were to suggest one strategy to you colleagues about event planning, what would it be?
Create your own signature and buzz – I believe people come back to our luncheon because they too have become passionate about the YWCA’s mission and programs which are highlighted at the luncheon. We try to have a motivating and inspirational speaker who also reflects our mission. They look forward to the opportunity to network and also the opportunity to shop at our Persimmon Plaza. Philanthropy, at every level, is an inspirational business. It’s very meaningful when an individual or company believes so powerfully in your organization’s mission that they’re willing to give back something they’ve work very hard to earn. Especially during these tough economic times.
How does risk management fit into your planning?
Risk management is an important part of our event planning process. Because over 500 people attend our luncheon, we are required to get a special rider. We also have special concerns because of our Persimmon Plaza Women’s Marketplace. It is essential that we work in partnership with our insurance broker and that they have an understanding of non-profit organizations.
If you are hosting a special event outside your organization please download our Special Event Liability & Insurance Checklist.
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