10 Steps to a Successful Celebrity Waiter Event
As Lisa Szarkowski from U.S. Fund for UNICEF states in this week’s Strategy Session, there are many ways celebrities can support your organization. And celebrity can be defined in a variety of ways.
For Soroptimist International of Santa Cruz, a local chapter of an organization devoted to improving the lives of women and girls, the celebrities at its celebrity-waiter fundraising dinner are high-profile members of its community.
The organization has held the dinner since 1991. Each year the event has raised greater funds and support from the community and has required less and less work on the part of the organization.
A case study on the Web site of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a national grantmaker that supports community service and volunteering, looks at the organization’s outline for a successful celebrity-waiter fundraising dinner.
The key element of the celebrity-waiter dinner is the participation of high-profile community members serving as waiters.
Below are some of the organization’s tips and best practices for identifying and recruiting local celebrities for a successful celebrity-waiter event:
1. Determine the purpose for the event. For the Soroptimist International of Santa Cruz, the purpose is to raise funds, increase visibility and recruit new members.
2. Assess organizational resources.
3. Get support from board members and create a leadership committee and subcommittees. Subcommittees should include fundraising, decorations, food, sponsorships, auctions and celebrity waiters.
4. Appoint a treasurer. This person prepares a preliminary budget, seeks out sponsorships and is responsible for obtaining insurance and permits and for supervising volunteers and/or staff who handle the money at the event.
5. Write job descriptions for committee chairs.
6. Create an event time line. The time line should begin one year in advance of the event.
7. Define and identify potential celebrity waiters. For Soroptimist International, the most ideal celebrity waiters are successful professional women in the community and community leaders. The most high-profile women in the organization asked potential waiters personally to join the event.
8. Identify a head celebrity waiter. The organization often selects its head waiter from a pool of winners of a variety of awards it gives out -- e.g., its Woman of Distinction award.
9. Create and distribute guest list slips for celebrity waiters. Those selected to be celebrity waiters are given a goal to invite a certain number of guests from their network of family members, friends and associate who will contribute at the event. After two years, Soroptimist International of Santa Cruz built up a solid guest list.
10. Prep celebrity waiters. Pair celebrity waiters with a waiter liaison who communicates with the celebrity, assigns tasks and preps them on what they will need to do at the event.
To read the complete case study, http://nationalserviceresources.org/epicenter/practices/index.php?ep_action=view&ep_id=1031
And for more ideas on holding a celebrity-waiter dinner, see the book “How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events: Reap Remarkable Returns with Minimal Effort,” by Betty Stallings and Donna McMillion.