This past week, I spent quite a bit of time helping with a 4-day event here in Rochester. It was a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. The event required about 500 volunteers and had between 5,000 and 6,000 participants. I came away from this event with several thoughts that I’d like to share with you.
- Events that involve so many people take a ton of effort, and they are very tiring. However, they also garner huge community support and awareness for your organization. Throughout the event, we heard amazingly supportive comments from local businesses and community members.
- Every event is an opportunity to learn. Each day of the event, we came away with new lessons. While things may have appeared to be running smoothly on the outside, those of us working behind the scenes had a different perspective. We made adjustments each day of the event based on the past days’ experiences. This not only provided us with the opportunity to evaluate the changes, we also got to experience the issues that bubbled to the top once larger ones had been addressed.
- Businesses want to be involved. I think that, sometimes, there is an assumption that businesses and nonprofits have different goals. And this is true. However, the goals are not mutually exclusive. The businesses involved with our event had a great time helping during the event, and many of them commented about what great community exposure they were getting as a business.
- As a product manager for software, my day involves lots of problem-solving. I primarily see the side of things that aren’t working and focus on what can be done to “fix” them. While this skill-set was invaluable during our event, mingling with the participants also provided the opportunity for me to see things from the perspective of those experiencing success and fun. This perspective is invigorating, and it reminds me why problem-solvers do what we do…we want everyone to experience success and fun, whether it is attending an event or working with software.
After all the planning, setup, and then 4 days of nonstop craziness while the event was open to the public, I came away with a renewed sense of vigor and positivity about the organization, supporting businesses, volunteers, and our whole community. I hope that each of our nonprofit customers experience this sort of outcome as you hold your fundraisers!