In a recent conversation with Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (yes, I could not resist this name-dropping opportunity) at a recent NYU donor reception while talking about my work at I-House and my past work, he recalled that he had recently sent in a contribution to one of the settlement organizations here in the city. He made a point of noting that friends of his were chairing this organization’s upcoming gala and that their involvement led him to make a contribution. He also said that a good friend of his always told him to make these kinds of contributions, as he never knew when he would find himself leading an event and sending benefit committee letters out to everyone in his Rolodex (which can be particularly important for a politician like Congressman Ford — in the event that he jumps back into electoral politics now that he is getting settled in New York).
This was a very simple reminder of how important it is that the individuals lending their name to your special event should be dedicated to your cause and willing to reach out to their networks on your group’s behalf. Thus far in my career, I have seen both extremes of special events — where leadership almost had to be begged to chair an event and those where supporters have been so committed to these events that they are known for taking part and playing a major role in the event’s success; as a fundraiser, I clearly prefer the latter approach, as it will not only make it easier to work with the leadership, but they will be more willing to get in and work with you to assure the event’s success.
So I ask — who is leading your next event?