Planning a benefit is something I now have a whole new appreciation for. We recently planned a huge benefit for my best friend's son who is battling leukemia. The benefit was a huge success, but it was a ton of work. I wanted to write about it because we picked up a few helpful hints that will help anyone who is thinking about planning a benefit. I would say the most important thing is to have a kick-ass committee with a variety of committed people with different strengths.
Planning a Benefit — Organize a Committee
Here are some job titles you should have and the types of people who tend to work best for them:
Financial Negotiator — Someone who is good with money and is capable of handling the money end of everything. Jobs will include negotiating with the banquet hall (or wherever the event is held), DJ, caterer, etc., and dealing with money on the day of the benefit. Our guy had to sit in the “money room” for most of the event. He made change and was in charge of our Squares for the day. (“Squares” are a device you can plug into a smartphone to swipe credit card transactions.)
Secretary — Obviously, someone who has secretarial skills and can keep schedules organized. This was my main title for our benefit. I used Google Docs (LOVE) to keep all the information up to date. I will get into this further in future posts. Evan's aunt is also a project coordinator, so she was a major contributor to the Docs. She planned a whole schedule for the benefit and lso organized all the volunteers this way.
Social Media Guru — This was also me, as I set up the Evan's World website and Facebook event page. Having a website where people could donate, purchase tickets online, sign up to volunteer, and just find out info was a great resource and critical to the benefit's success. So many attendees chose this method and paid through their Paypal accounts. It was convenient for everyone. You also want this person to blast the event on all forms of social media. Don't forget about local print and radio stations, too! Reach out to them for their help on spreading the word.
Marketing and Creative Design — You need this person for creating flyers, graphics for the website, posters, tickets, etc. Picmonkey.com is an excellent and free resource for anyone to use.
Runners — Get a couple of outgoing people who like to get out there and talk to people. Two of my best friends had this job and were excellent at it. They helped pick up raffle basket donations, solicit local businesses, hand out flyers and posters, sell tickets in person — the runners did so much. Everyone on the committee should do this, too, but have a few people to do it as their main job.
Mailers — People to stuff envelopes and mail out donation request letters to businesses.
Basket Makers — Crafty people who can create raffle baskets out of the donations that you receive. I have seen benefits that don't do too much with this, but our baskets were pretty darn impressive. You should also log them, make tags for them, and separate silent auction items.
Venue Coordinator — Designate one person to be in contact with the venue. You don't want everyone calling and asking them the same questions. This helps them out and streamlines your process.
Family Coordinator — Same as above, but for the family you are throwing the benefit for. Most likely, they are dealing with a million things (hence why you are planning a benefit), so have one person to ask them questions and run ideas past them.
Donation Holder — Someone with a large room in their home that can be completely shut off to pets and kids. This is to store all the donation items as them come in and most likely the place for the basket makers to assemble as well.
Did I forget anyone?
As you can see, planning a benefit is pretty intense. But, if you have people that enjoy their part of the job, it flows smoothly. Take me for example: I love doing computer work, so I had no problem doing my part. But if you were to send me out soliciting, I would panic and probably cry most of the days. But we were lucky enough to have a diverse group of people who had the skills to handle their tasks very well.
Rally up volunteers, too. You would be surprised at how many people are eager to help, and you can never have enough help when you're planning a benefit. It was truly heartwarming to see how many people enthusiastically helped out Evan!
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