Don't Say I Didn't Warn You - The Pragmatist's Guide to Successful Special Events

Special events have long been synonymous with fundraising and as a result, every fundraiser has a story of cold food, missing golf balls, no-show volunteers, and the $200 pot of hotel coffee. We also know that fundraising events, on average, have one of the lower net profit factors and yet, they are often the go-to solution in a financial pinch. It is essential that every fundraiser understand the value special events can play within their organization, as well as the importance of setting appropriate financial, time management and resource expectations. In this session we will discuss this love-hate relationship, as well as review the cornerstone elements of successful events, including how to define success, knowing when to move on and setting pragmatic boundaries for the future.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the core elements of successful non-profit special events:

   a. Why are we here?

      i. Event purpose – friendraising, fundraising, donor recognition, community awareness

      ii. Financial dependence – impact on the overall bottom line and role in the fund development plan

      iii. Definition of success grounded in realistic expectations and connection to purpose

   b. Resource allocation

      i. Time

      ii. Money

      iii. People

   c. Commitment to Excellence, Not Perfection

      i. The details that matter and the ones that don’t

      ii. Connection back to purpose

      iii. Leverage people resources to create authenticity

   d. Does It Stay or Does It Go?

      i. Creating clear expectations around an event’s longevity

      ii. Creating a healthy special events culture

      iii. Understanding purpose and financial dependence

Amy Wolfe, MPPA, CFRE

Amy Wolfe is a partner in Mujeres Poderosas, a collaboration of hard-working, determined and passionate women sharing their collective wisdom for the betterment of non-profit organizations. Her career includes tenure serving as President and CEO of AgSafe for over a decade, as Vice President of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, as an account executive for E&J Gallo Winery and as a legislative aide for the California State Assembly.

Ms. Wolfe is dedicated to her community serving on the Boards of Directors of the Modesto Rotary Club Foundation, The Salas Foundation and Protected Harvest, being an involved member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, various California county Farm Bureaus and a Girl Scout for 35 years.

Ms. Wolfe received her Master of Public Policy and Administration from CSU, Sacramento, her Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is accredited as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).