As nonprofits return to in-person events in 2023, the most important success factor will be how to attract guests. For some organizations, the hiatus has been three years, and it is vital to make your fundraiser stand out from all the others. Here is an example of an event we recently produced at which we created a completely out of the box experience for guests.
The Stroum Jewish Community Center (the J) was looking to hold their first live event in three years. They had three primary objectives:
- To create a fun, celebratory event, not a typical sit-down stuffy dinner.
- To celebrate the J’s past accomplishments and share what’s ahead for the organization.
- To engage their younger constituents (30-40 year olds) who are familiar with the J but have not yet become donors
We decided to have the event at the J which is a large community facility with a gymnasium, pool and various classrooms. We created a “Journey through the J” to take community members through a multi-leg journey, each featuring important information about the J, fun activities, and refreshments. The event culminated in a party with dancing, mingling and small bites.
The Journey through the J began as guests entered the facility. Each guest received a lanyard which indicated, by color, which room they would enter to start their journey. The goal here was to encourage different groups to interact with each other by randomly assigning the colors to each attendee. The designated rooms were blue, yellow, pink, blue, orange, purple, and green which correlated directly to the pillars of the SJCC’s logo and mission.
In each room, we had a representative of each program discuss their activities and share more about the J. Each room had a specialty drink, a game and a food pairing that matched the color theme of the room. For example, we served a pink paintbrush cocktail and a soy-glazed salmon in the pink room. The activities in the room varied from a raffle to a wine wall to learning more about the J and why it is so meaningful to become a donor.
To encourage guests to feel like a part of The J’s history, we created a timeline that showed milestones in the organization’s 74-year history. We invited guests to write a message on the timeline to share when they first learned about The J or a meaningful experience with the organization.
To keep the event energetic and the guests engaged, each leg of the journey lasted 20 minutes, then the guests switched to a new room. Once the entire journey was complete, everyone headed to the gymnasium that had been transformed into a club replete with disco balls, a fabulous DJ, soft seating and mood lighting. We shared a few short videos, then our three co-chairs– all of whom were in the targeted 30-40 age range that the J was hoping to attract– shared why they support the J. We shared a QR code with guests so they could make a donation, then opened up the rest of the evening for dancing and small bites which included a donut wall and truffle fries.
The goal for the event was to get people excited about the J. The event was a celebration that reached a younger audience and introduced them to becoming a donor for an incredible organization — and it raised over $500,000. If you want to explore ideas on how to “blow up your event,” schedule a consultation call!