The Magic Ingredient in a Fundraising Event
Décor, food, entertainment, and reception activities all play a role in making an event stand out, but the stories of lives changed and made better are the most important ingredients in a successful fundraising event. Stories told from the heart by clients or participants are what inspire guests and help them connect more deeply with your organization’s mission.
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Chad and Becky Walker who are deeply involved with the adaptive sports and recreation programs at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. In fact, Chad and Becky met on a bike trail during a Courage Kenny adaptive cycling session, fell in love, and were married in 2012!
Chad and Becky generously shared their story with close to 500 guests at the June 4 Celebration of Courage lunch event at Target Field, and they totally hit it out of the park. In this month’s newsletter, Chad and Becky provide tips for helping speakers calm their nerves and prepare for success.
10 Ways to Help Your Speakers Prepare
Thank you to Chad and Becky Walker for sharing these insights to help speakers feel comfortable in preparing their remarks and connecting with the audience.
- Once we had committed to speak, it was helpful early on to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the event, who the audience is, the amount of time allotted for our remarks, and the overall order of the program.
- We appreciated being asked what would make us most comfortable on stage, such as what kind of seating would work best for Chad, the type of microphone we both would prefer, and whether it would be helpful to have a stand on stage for our scripts.
- Being in touch with Ann multiple times via phone and email between the time we were confirmed to speak and the day of the event was reassuring. We appreciated the feedback on the drafts of our remarks, information about day-of event details such as suggested attire and where to park, and having her cell phone number.
- Taking one’s story and boiling it down to 4-5 minutes is challenging! It was helpful to have guidance on the overall arc of our stories with questions such as, “What was life like before you became involved at Courage Kenny?” and “How has life changed as a result of participating in adaptive sports and recreation programs?”
- We can’t stress enough the importance of practicing. For Chad, reading my remarks out loud helped me with the editing process in determining what was less essential to include. For both of us, the more we practiced the more comfortable we became with what we were going to share the day of the event. For Becky, even though I didn’t read my script word-for-word, having everything written out was my security blanket in case I forgot where I was going.
- One thing that impressed us and helped us feel welcome was the people working registration recognized our names when we checked in, knew that we were speakers, and thanked us for participating. Those volunteers directed us to where to go for sound check and made sure Ann knew that we had arrived.
- Doing a sound check was super helpful. It calmed our nerves to experience being on stage before guests arrived and to connect with the audiovisual team. We gained insight that the volume of our two voices was different. It was beneficial for both us and the audience to have the AV team prepared for our speaking volume with our respective microphones when it came time in the program for us to speak.
- Incorporating a handful of photos on the screens during our presentation helped bring our stories to life.
- For Chad, whenever I started feeling apprehensive in the days leading up to the event, I reminded myself that there was a reason we were invited to speak. It was helpful to remind myself that, no matter how my delivery went the day of the event, people would appreciate our words.
- Becky’s best advice to someone who has been invited to share their story at an event is to get a good night’s sleep, be yourself, and speak from the heart.
Ann Plans is looking for an event planner to join our team as an independent contractor! If you or someone you know is interested in a part-time, flexible role within the nonprofit events industry, we invite you to submit your cover letter and resume to [email protected]. For the complete position description, please click here.
What’s your story this summer? Whether relaxing at the lake, enjoying a road trip, or taking advantage of the wide-array of Twin Cities outdoor activities, we hope you are creating some truly spectacular memories!