Make Events Work for Your Organization and the Community
The Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association is a Memphis, Tenn.-based social-service organization that serves more than 60,000 people a year with programs ranging from transitional housing for homeless families to nutrition to day care for infants to job opportunities for teens. The organization runs four main special events a year, according to Charlie Nelson, director of special events/volunteers for MIFA.
One of the organization’s most successful events actually is a non-event: the No-Go Gala. For this, the organization recruits people to serve as hosts and has them supply a list of names of potential donors. MIFA prints up and sends out invitations to these people asking them to give to the organization rather than go to a gala.
“They’re actually paying us not to go to a party. That’s why it’s called a No-Go Gala,” Nelson says.
The organization has raised as much as $70,000 from the non-event fundraiser. The key to its success is in the individuals who “host the party.”
“It’s all about who is on the host committee. In anything that you do in special events, it’s about who’s running it, who’s the chairperson, who is helping you with this event,” she adds.
For MIFA, successful special events require a large pool of volunteers, support from board members and getting influential people on event committees. But Nelson adds that careful consideration also needs to be given to the type of special event an organization has.
“Some organizations can do casino night, and we have people who would probably just love to give us casino money. But we are a faith-based organization. Making sure you have the right event for the organization, that’s what I think is a key thing — does that event fit with your mission?” Nelson says.
Selecting events for their potential popularity within the community also is important. Elizabeth Maynard-Garrett, director of public relations for MIFA, says that despite the overabundance these days of golf fundraisers, MIFA has chosen to continue its golf tournament because it is strongly supported by a local organization, which accounts for the majority of the event’s participants.
Nelson recommends touching base with the event committee to figure out what events that work within your organization’s mission also will be popular within the community.
Charlie Nelson and Elizabeth-Maynard Garrett can be reached via www.mifa.org