I had the privilege of helping out Central City Community Outreach with their 1st Annual Fundraising Event. First events are always a little scary -- there are so many uncertainties. Who's going to show up, how much money are we going to raise, will people like the event?
One thing I loved about this event was how much every aspect of the night reflected the heart and mission of the organization. So much planning went into helping guests experience first hand what goes on at Central City instead of simply putting together a nice sit down dinner.
The event took place at the French Garden Restaurant, a small restaurant located just east of Skid Row. The meal was served family style with salads, sandwiches, and cookies. No fancy glasses or linens. The centerpieces were interactive games and toys that the kids play with after school.
Right from the start, the event introduced guests to just a snapshot of the environment that Central City creates. The guests entered through an alley decorated with canvas paintings and small lights. Kids from Central City were present -- some participating in a drum circle, others playing jump rope. The guests had a chance to interact with the children before even reaching the check-in table. Check out some pictures below!
I'll admit -- planning this event made me realize how limited my ideas can be sometimes. When I think of "fundraising dinner" my mind automatically jumps to a nice venue with 66" rounds, satin linens, and a prix fixe dinner. But what this event accomplished was so much more than just a nice evening in exchange for a donation. The event was a experience -- it got the guests involved and more importantly, invested in the organization because it clearly portrayed the heart of Central City and what it truly stands for. For a non-profit organization, it's crucial to form long-lasting relationships and partnerships with your donors. And I know that the success of this event can be seen not only by the amount of money we raised, but the impact that the event had on the guests who attended.