Friday, August 6, 2010

Giving Back on Your Big Day

When I tell people that I am an event planner, they often ask me if I do weddings. I emphatically respond that I won't touch those with a 10-foot pole. :) However, one of my dearest friends is engaged, and I am attending the engagement party this weekend. So in honor of her, I am going to blog about the Bridal Garden. My coworker got married a couple of years ago and first told me about the Bridal Garden then. I love the concept, and it is a great way to use what will be the biggest party of your life to raise funds and awareness for a good cause. The Bridal Garden sells donated dresses that have been used or unused and gives the money to local charities that support education for kids. Follow this link for more information:

On another note, if you are interested in guest-blogging, please contact me at jenniferEMcole at gmail dot com.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Brings Attention to South Africa through World Cup

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is using the World Cup to expose the plight of South Africans in the face of poverty through their blog. The blog will feature reflections regarding the past, present, and future of the communities were the games are being played for the duration of the tournament. It's exciting to think of how many more people will be exposed to this cause through the attention of the World Cup. This is yet another example of how events can help to change the world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Adventures

Please excuse my long absence. I’ve been spending some time traveling and at events that have the potential to change the world.

On Sunday, June 6th I participated in Tour de Brooklyn, organized by Transportation Alternatives. Transportation Alternatives wants to make New Yorkers aware of the bicycle facilities that currently exist on the streets of this city, while calling for greater safety improvements. They also lobby for better biking conditions for New York City residents. Transportation Alternatives is in part to thank for many of the new bike lanes throughout Brooklyn. While Tour de Brooklyn is a bike tour through Brooklyn, it also gets the word out about this organization and it's cause.

I also attended the ninth annual Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Besides being a four-day showcase of musical acts, Bonnaroo raises attention about environmental issues such as composting, community gardens, and sustainable resources. Additionally, there is a section of Bonnaroo’s “Centeroo” (the main area where stages and vendors are) dedicated to nonprofit organizations. I had the pleasure of stopping at many of these tents (although there were so many tthat I was unable to stop at them all) including Oxfam, Defy Thirst, Hope Love Strength Foundation, Mountain Justice, Save Our Cumberland Mountains (a member of The Alliance for Appalachia).

Oxfam: Odds are that you’ve most likely already heard of Oxfam. Oxfam works to alleviate poverty around the world.

Defy Thirst: Based in Atlanta, they’ve been around for a year now. Defy Thirst works to make safe water available to all through cheap, efficient water filtration technology, by increasing awareness of the power clean water has to provide life, and by empowering the world to stand up, and Defy Thirst!

Hope Love Strength Foundation: The world’s leading rock n roll cancer foundation which builds awareness of global cancer needs, supports cancer centers around the world, and builds international marrow databases through the “get on the list campaign”. Through a simple q-tip swab of my cheek, I am now in the international marrow database.

Mountain Justice: Seeking to add to the growing anti-mountain top removal citizens movement, Mountain Justice contributes to grassroots organizing, public education, nonviolent civil disobedience and forms citizen action.

Save Our Cumberland Mountains: empowers Tennesseans to protect, defend, and improve the quality of life in their communities across the state by working for social, economic, and environmental justice for all.

In my conversation with Defy Thirst, they specifically mentioned that they were going to have a booth on the Warped Tour as well. Hope Love Strength Foundation mentioned that part of their mission is to be at concerts and festivals like Bonnaroo in order to gain awareness for their cause. I encourage nonprofits to try this idea. I was able to meet with several wonderful organizations and learn more about important causes of our time. Bonnaroo is a socially-conscious festival, focusing on environmentalism efforts and education. Many Bonnaroo patrons are socially-conscious people to begin with, so you have a great target-audience of people who want to come to your booth to learn more and take action.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Wednesday before Memorial Day until the Wednesday after Memorial Day is Fleet Week in New York City. I'm always inspired this time of year, as hundreds of military men and women converge on my city. I feel so blessed for the protection and safety we've had here, which I can't take for granted after being 4 blocks from the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. Their selfless service really inspires me to want to do good, which got me thinking. At the Memorial Day barbeque you are inevitably throwing or attending, why not have friends bring an item that will go in a care package to our troops? Just googling "Care Package for Soldiers" brought up tens of organizations that send care packages to the troops. One such nonprofit organization, Give 2 the Troops includes a list of most requested items, noting that food and entertainment items are always the on the top of the list. Obviously, my post is a little late for Memorial Day, but the idea can definitely be recycled for the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, or Thanksgiving. I think that this is a great way to really commemorate the meaning of a holiday that can sometimes be overlooked in our excitement to kick off the beginning of summer.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I wonder if anyone will be using the Lost finale as a party fundraiser? Why not collect clothes, books, canned food while you are gathered to party tomorrow?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inspiration Abounds

I had a great time at the AIDS Walk on Sunday. There were lots of different personalities, cheerleaders, drumlines, or salsa bands at different intervals on the walk. The best part for me was on a corner of a Harlem street with a DJ blasting Michael Jackson. People walking decided randomly to bust out into a dance break for a few minutes before joining the walk again, making me feel like I was in a musical. It was pretty awesome. Twice on my walk, people leaned out of their windows and banged on pots. The experience was both fun and inspiring. The event raised $5,717,610 and 45,000 people walked. Thanks to everyone who contributed to my campaign!

In other news, I read about the Robin Hood Foundation fundraising gala in Biz Bash. The event was held at the Javitz Center had 3,600 guests including Stevie Wonder, Sting, Brian Williams, and Jimmy Fallon. This event inspired me for two reasons. First, the pictures of the decor are amazing and extremely creative. Secondly, they raised a total of $87.8 million, a personal record. Great job! That's an amazing accomplishment, especially in a recession!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

AIDS Walk New York and Fundraising Walks

I've been busy busy busy with lots of events lately, hence my small hiatus from the blog.

A friend got me involved in this year's AIDS Walk New York. I remember always wanting to take part in college but never doing it for some reason or another (most likely because it falls at the end of finals). I sadly forgot about my desire to take part until my friend, Cassandra, and her sorority sister started a team for their sorority. If you're interested in making a contribution on my donation page, click here: My AIDS Walk Donation Page

I was so impressed by the AIDS Walk fundraising seminar. Believe it or not, this is the first fundraising walk that I've taken part in. I did attend a "kick-off" event for another organization's fundraising walk last fall. However, I did not take part in that campaign because I was in the midst of my annual birthday fundraiser for charity:water and thought my energy would be better spent on one fundraiser at a time. In any case, the other organization's kick off event was largely focused on how the organization uses the funds that are raised, and also participants' reasons for being involved. This was important, however, the AIDS Walk fundraising seminar gave more of a look at ways to raise funds. I was very impressed with the presentation which included a special focus on making sure that donors make use of their company's donation match. Handouts even included a pretty comprehensive list of corporations that do a donation match. The presentation also focused on ways to creatively fundraise through events. I loved this for obvious reasons, but also because of the fact that those who are involved in a fundraising walk clearly already want to be involved in an event for a cause. Therefore, why not help these same people to raise funds by having an event of their own! Very smart idea. In the folder of fundraising materials, they included 5 double-sided pages of event fundraising ideas. I was inspired as people at the seminar raised their hands to share fundraising events they've had in the past to support the AIDS Walk, including a brunch and a yard sale. Among some of the great ideas suggested in the handouts were a silent auction, guest bartending (ask a bar if you can bartend for a night and then give all of the tips to the AIDS Walk), pie smash (ask your supervisor if people can make a donation to smash a pie in his/her face), bake sale, ask a local restaurant to donate a portion of one evening's proceeds to the AIDS Walk, and more. Kudos to the AIDS Walk and GMHC for a great fundraising strategy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House Party for the Humane Society

Here is a cool example of throwing a party to fundraise and raise awareness for a cause from The Chronicle of Philanthropy: House Parties Offer Ways for Donors to Connect With Animal Charity's Priorities

The Humane Society's "Chimp Retirement Parties" are house parties run by volunteers in order to bring attention to specific issues of humane treatment to animals. The Humane Society does this twice a year and raises about $25,000 from 1,000 people each time. They also make sure to properly equip their volunteer party-throwers (who can sign up online) with brochures, fact sheets, sign up sheets for the party, and envelopes to collect donations, although most party-attenders will donate online.

Props to the Humane Society for changing the world and throwing a party!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fundraising Events: Summer Vacation Edition

The weather is an unseasonable but beautiful 80 degrees here in New York City, so what better day to turn our thoughts toward summer vacation? I've been thinking about summer vacation plans and my sister and I are throwing around the idea of a road trip and music festival. The big music festivals often have ties to charitible fundraising these days, of which I am a big fan. I've noticed many festivals have an environmental charity as their pet cause, which makes sense since the events are outside and sometimes involve camping. This blog post from Take Part explains the philanthropic activities Lollapalooza and contributions of its headlining artists.

Lollapalooza: Rock Out with Your Cause Out

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baking for Good and World Water Day

This week, I learned about Baking for Good, an online bakery that gives 15% of sales to the nonprofit organization of the customers' choosing. They also make "awareness ribbon cookies" and party favors for galas. I think this is a great way to add impact to your fundraisers. You can purchase desserts for your event that will actually go back into supporting your cause.

Monday was World Water Day. There were several events to commemorate the day. According to one World Water Day website, one very unique event is the "World's Longest Toilet Queue". The World's Longest Toilet Queue is an attempt to break a Guiness World Record while bringing attention to worldwide water and sanitation issues. UNICEF also recruited volunteers for the "Tap Project". One way that volunteers could help was to organize an event to raise funds for UNICEF and bring awareness to the water crisis. World Water Day is an example of a trend in the philanthropy world that I believe is a very effective one: galzanizing momentum and support around a day where volunteers can feel true ownership and impact by giving them the power to raise funds and support around their favorite cause. My incredibly smart, talented, passionate and all-around amazing friend, Mikelle, recruited me to help her with a fundraising/awareness event on the lack of access to clean water in many areas of the world. We are in the very beginning planning stages, but more details will follow soon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Partying to Change the World

Please excuse my hiatus. My six-week grant proposal writing class took a lot out of me. I never realized that grant proposal writing was so intense! Major props to you grant writers out there! However, I am so glad that I took the class because I learned a lot and also realized that I have a lot more to learn. Thanks to my friend Raysa for letting me hone my grant writing skills by using her work with Invisible Children as the topic of my proposal. Raysa is going to Uganda this summer to teach secondary school kids for the second year in a row and she needs to raise $4,000 to cover airfare and program fees. Let me know if you are interested in supporting her! For more information, check out this link.

Thanks to my amazing friend, Steph, for bringing this article to my attention. Nicholas Kristoff, who I am growing to love, wrote an awesome Op-Ed on making a difference in the world by throwing parties! I got so excited when I saw this. He basically proves my point that when we get together socially, we have the power to make a difference and change the world. For a group of women entrepreneurs in Uganda, partying has made a difference. Last summer, Raysa brought back the beaded necklaces made from scrap paper that Mr. Kristoff refers to, and so I know first hand that they are pretty cool.

Partying to Change the World

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Do the Online Event Management Tools Compare?

I've been busy with a few projects and I started a new class that I'm very excited about - Grant Proposal Writing! Right now, I am stealing a few minutes for a quick blog post while hanging out with friends at Think Coffee on Mercer Street. Great place! It reminds me of being in San Francisco a bit. They also have rental meeting space in their basement

Check out this
great article
from that breaks down a number of different online event management/promotion tools (mostly registration-oriented). They even have a few comparison charts! An event planners' dream. :)
If you are looking for a service for registering people for your events, I suggest you check out these affordable options!

Live Event Promotion, Management And Marketing: Guide To The Best Web-Based Tools And Services

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fundraiser Piggy-Back

I started my 6-week course on Grant Proposal Writing last Thursday and I think it's going to be a good one. I'm excited to learn the art of grant writing and help some great causes get some cash (which will hopefully go to fund community projects, and maybe a great event, too!).

I love when fundraisers piggy-back on an event on a local or national level that is already in play. People are already looking for a chance to socialize during the Super Bowl, the Grammys, or the Oscars (I'm sure most of us have been invited to at least one of these types of parties), so why not use the chance to raise some money for a great cause? These people did:

Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer co-host a Super Bowl party to raise funds for "The Giving Back Fund":

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Venues are Offering Deals Because of the Recession

Today I ran across an interesting post on the Association of Fundraising Professional's message board on LinkedIn:
The plus side to the recession: deals can be found on venues. The example used in the article above is a venue waiving the rental fee for nonprofit organizations for mid-week events. That's quite a deal.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Building Your Brand and Network with Every Event

Today I was thinking about how my blog reminds me a bit of the 'current events' assignment I used to have back in elementary school. We were required to scan the newspaper, pick an article, write a paragraph about it, and present it to class. Back then, the internet was still something that was only used by the government and computer geeks. Who would have known that assignment was preparing me for my blog many years down the road?

I came across an article in Biz Bash that highlights and organization that thinks of ways to use their fundraising events as a means of building their brand and network. I just finished reading a book by my favorite author, One Million Miles in One Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The book is all about story - how our lives are a story and the elements that make a good story. In one part of the book, Miller is writing a screenplay and explains how having a scene where two people sit in a coffee shop to hash out a conflict won't work because it isn't memorable. Miller points out that good movies have scenes taking place in strange places, such as in a batting cage (Good Will Hunting), on the edge of a cliff (Garden State), or in a meat locker (Rocky). This theory applies to fundraising events as well. To make your event memorable, it helps to have it in an interesting place or with an unusual activity going on. Positive memories are what help to build your brand, and entice donors to give (as well as remember you in the future and tell their friends about you).

Most Valuable Kids held a Ping-Pong Tournament fundraiser. Since the organization largely sends kids to sports-related events, they use sports events as fundraisers. As the organization's president put it: "When five of us started Most Valuable Kids in New York in 2006, we didn't want to do the typical events. For us, it's all about building our brand and building our network with every event." They are also planning a tennis, swimming, and golf triathalon this summer.
The event brought in 250 - 300 people, most of which were new donors.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Have More Smaller Events That Cost Little or Nothing

This article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy caught my attention for a number of reasons.

A Sleep-In Captures Donors' Attention:

GlobalGiving hosted their second annual "Great American Sleep-In," encouraging people to sleep-in on Black Friday and instead make a donation. First of all, I love anything that takes our minds away from materialism and towards helping others. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, which is why events like these are successful. Secondly, I like the point that the development director makes: "If we can do a number of smaller events where we make a little bit of money and they don't cost us much, if anything, that will supplement our income and really raise awareness about who we are and what we do." This is a powerful and effective philosophy to go by in planning events for small nonprofits with little resources. It's a great philosophy for large nonprofits to make their dollars go farther, as well.