By Jami Gibson

This past June, I wrote my article about the “be nice.” program, a mental health initiative aimed to raise mental health awareness, bullying and suicide prevention in K-12 schools. Since then, I spent most of my free time over the summer serving on a planning committee for an event to raise funds for the implementation of the “be nice.” program in area schools. This was my first time doing anything of that sort, as was the case for the 7 other people on the committee. The event took place on September 8th, and as I reflected on the event, several “learnings” come to mind:

Be passionate
When it comes to helping with an event, make sure it’s a cause you care deeply about. It’s that passion that will help you spread the word and move past any obstacles you encounter because you desire to make a difference.

Make it about the guests
As with any event (i.e. weddings, fundraisers, etc.), make it about the guests – what would YOU want if you were attending the function as a guest? People commit their time (and sometimes money) to attend, so make it worth their while! Delicious food, open bar, and great entertainment go a long way in making people feel like they’re being treated to an evening out.

Be a servant
Similar to making the event all about your guests, make it a point to serve others in all aspects of the event. This usually means you’ll be socializing and working during the event, even with lots of extra help. Have food industry skills? You will be using them again…clear tables, run drinks, point out where bathrooms are located, etc.

Prepare for the letdown
No, I don’t mean disappointment in the event itself. It’s common after important, time-consuming events to feel a mix of emotions – excitement if it went really well, relief that it all came together, and sadness that it’s over. For a few days post-event, I just felt “off” because I had extra time time on my hands, and I missed the thrill of watching the pieces and parts come together.

Overall, our event was a major success! We had over 200 attendees and had gross revenues of over $66,000, which was more than triple what we had hoped to raise for this important cause. The next day, we had attendees telling us it was the best fundraiser event they’d ever been to and that they hoped we’d do it again next year. I’d say that’s pretty good for 8 people with no fundraising experience but a passion to make a difference!