Welcome to the third installment of our Spotlight series! This week we talked with Ginger Harris, the Communications and Development Coordinator at Illuminate Colorado to gain some insight as to how new non-profit organizations plan successful fundraising events.
Though Illuminate Colorado has only been around since January 1st, its collaborative partners are well-established in communities around Colorado. This year, the Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, Prevent Child Abuse Colorado, the Colorado Chapter of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and Sexual Abuse Forever Ending merged to form Illuminate Colorado. Through education, advocacy, and family support, Illuminate Colorado strives to prevent the maltreatment of children.
Currently, Illuminate Colorado is working on developing a set of annual events with their first annual gala taking place in late September, 2017. Playing off of their name (“Illuminate” Colorado), the “Light the Way” gala is a chance for the nonprofit organization to form a stronger connection with the community. Moreover, “Light the Way” reinforces their mission to brighten childhoods and help Colorado kids. Ginger and her team recently began marketing for the event, using social media, and emailing out a newsletter to those involved with the nonprofit, alongside putting together a committee of volunteers to spread the word.
Although their board members are not on the planning committee, they have been involved in the decision-making process for the gala from the beginning. To keep the board engaged throughout the planning process, Illuminate Colorado works with the fundraising subdivision of the board. The goal of these events is to raise money for the organization, so frequently checking in with the board’s fundraising committee is one way to utilize the strengths of the board members. Because the board members are not directly involved in the event, managing the team will be a challenge. However, Illuminate Colorado says that volunteers are a huge asset to executing a great event. It also is beneficial for understaffed nonprofits to keep the event small, and to scale. Making team decisions early on allows tasks to be carried out at the event more efficiently.
Ginger’s advice for other Communications and Development Coordinators? “Leverage your resources. Often times reaching out to people, who have been planning events longer than you have, are the best people to get advice from.”
Illuminate Colorado’s “Light the Way” Gala will take place on September 30th from 7 - 10 pm at the Richards-Hart Estate in Wheat Ridge.