Are we done yet? I’m thinking so. Here are my tips based on last summer’s experiments. We held a couple of very small private fundraising gatherings in the summer of 2020, and they went extremely well. Private locations, following the guidelines, and a limited guest list with 100% of the allowable attendance eager to be a part of things showed that not only could it work, but it could work well.
This summer, we’ll be at it again, raising money for the Madison Land Conservation Trust and the Killingworth Land Conservation Trust. Already, just mentioning these in casual conversation has showed intense interest in getting things going. With proper management, I believe fundraising events this year can be highly successful and provide a much-needed tonic for any given community. People want to get going, it’s that simple.
Key number one to making it work is to stay local. The band above is fronted by Berklee professor Joe K. Walsh, and contains musicians all living within his area who are all members of highly regarded touring bands. In any normal year, this band would be impossible to assemble, as they’d all be touring individually across not just the continent, but the entire planet. This year, we get lucky. Not only are they willing to play for us as they’ve all been sidelined for a year, but because they’re within driving distance, the logistical problems are reduced.
They’re also willing to play for reduced, flat fee as it’s a fundraiser show and their expenses are non-existent. Plus, they simply can’t wait to get out and see real people again. This window will close rapidly, as touring will begin to ramp up, and they’ll all go back to their highly successful bands. In the meantime, though, we win, and the organizations we’re raising money for also win. Hopefully, the musicians also feel like they win, too. The successful events are the ones where everyone goes away happy with the outcome.
The audiences are eager to return, the musicians eager to play, so now it’s time to take stock of what you have to work with. How is your volunteer base? Still intact? You’ll have a few that will be reluctant, so outsourcing may be in order. For example, while it may sound great to have a large food tent where your organization cooks for the throngs and makes extra funds, but perhaps it’s wiser to just get some food trucks to handle that. Have them donate a small percentage as “food sponsors”. Yes, it’s less money, but a lot easier from a labor and management end, and the net result is happier organizers as well as attendees.
The key is to remember it’s not just all about the dough. It’s all about increasing the organization’s visibility, as well as potential volunteer pool for events down the road. Keep it simple, but make sure you’re doing things and getting visible this summer. People will want to get out there this spring and summer, so make sure that whatever you do, you’ll be squarely in front of them.