Signature Events and Celebrations
Visibility and name recognition are essential to coalitions who want to attract ongoing operational and program support. Signature events are one way to increase visibility and involve the community in fun activities. The type of events commonly held include auctions, house tours, garden tours, concerts, sporting events such as road races, antique shows, art shows, dances, telethons, festivals, celebrity appearances, banquets, and amateur entertainment. But while the signature events can be a valuable source of funding, they are the most difficult of all fund-raising activities. Special events have what is termed 'poor grief-to-earnings ratio'. The costs associated with the event are substantial, and the volunteer pool usually diminishes over time. In the end, a handful of volunteers are doing all the work, and profits may decrease as other new events in the community drain funding dollars. If the signature event is still working well for the organization, however, promotional efforts before the event can pay of in profits. One- page press releases should be faxed to the media a week in advance of the event. The day before, a media advisory is sent. A phone call to area electronic media may mean better coverage on the evening news. This tip sheet for signature events includes a comprehensive, four-page checklist with virtually every possible item that must be included in the planning and presentation. Items such as parking, signage, lighting, crowd control, sound system, and dozens of other considerations are included. The checklist helps event planners track expenses, deadlines, volunteer assignments, and tasks that have been completed. Finally, staff, board and volunteers should attend a de-briefing within a day or two of the event. Problems and suggestions can be discussed while the day's events are still fresh. If a celebration for workers is planned, it should be held as soon after the event as possible.