PBDD teamed with the People’s Resource Center to present a night of food and laughter for fifty people on October 20th. We titled the event, ‘Laughing Matters,’ and PBDD board member Maryanna Milton ended the evening by thanking everyone and encouraging us to ‘make someone laugh.’
The comedy was donated by Chicago’s Comedy Scene for a Make-A-Wish® charity event. Katherine & Barry were the winning bid. The Chicago’s Comedy Scene graciously supported Make-A-Wish, PBDD, and PRC with this event and provided audio as well as a fine comedic line-up.
The event and the experience of hosting a joint comedy/dinner fundraiser were a success, and we wanted to share what we learned. Aspects which helped both organizations included:
- An outside perspective in planning and organizing the event.
- Reaching staff, volunteers and donors of the other organization, raising visibility and creating positive associations with another well regarded organization.
- Extra hands for performing the work.
One of the key benefits we derived was leveraging PRC’s experience with the process. Since PRC has hosted many fundraisers, they had contacts with restaurants, ticket vendors, and equipment suppliers which saved time in research and making cold calls. PRC also provided access to additional resources, from marketing to placards identifying the table numbers at the event. The benefits PBDD provided were introducing a new fundraiser idea and providing fresh energy.
The drawbacks to partnering included giving up full ownership, working with additional schedule constraints and sharing the spotlight. However, the benefits definitely made the endeavor worthwhile. In addition to raising money, the experience strengthened our partnership and increased the visibility of both organizations. If you want all the details on what went into planning the event, we have posted the planning checklist.
Lessons gleaned include:
- Ensure the venue is wheelchair-accessible. (It was.)
- Offer a vegetarian option, and ensure the restaurant can handle special requests. (Two attendees were gluten-free so the Wheatstack restaurant made their chicken without any breading.)
- When ordering tickets, give guests an opportunity to express seating preference and special needs.
- It’s worth paying for an elevated platform so people can see the comedians. (We did.)
- If a buffet is ready to go at 6:30, there can be a smooth flow of people getting food (without long lines), and everyone can be done eating by 7:30.
- Encourage all participants, including venue and entertainment providers, to provide publicity. But we didn’t see much benefit from paid Facebook posts or from hard-copy posters.
- Tables of four lead to easy conversation even between people who don’t know each other.
- Keep the event simple enough to manage (e.g. no raffle or plea for additional donations).
- Ensure that you and the restaurant agree on the total count of people to be charged for the meal during the event. Confirm this with the manager on duty.
- Give each organization a few minutes to explain the organization, then get on with the entertainment.
- Have enough business cards and explanatory brochures/postcards for people to take if they’re interested. Next time we may have bookmarks with pbdd.org on it and a brief mission statement. Just something to remind people of the name of the organization.
- Encourage a board member or supporter to host an “after party” to wind down after the event. (Thank you Maryanna!)
Barry introduced PBDD, shared our goals, and mentioned several partners. You can read his material at Barry’s blog. Sarah Lichtenwalter from PRC talked briefly about the training and 13,000 computers that have been given to PRC clients since the program began.
People seemed to enjoy themselves. One of the attendees was Frank Goetz who started PRC’s computer training and refurbishing program as mentioned as part of our partner profile of PRC. The comics interacted with Frank and his table to the enjoyment of all.