Who’s your MC?
I got cc’d on an e-mail that one of my November events confirmed a local TV anchor to emcee (or MC, if you prefer) their gala. This is a common practice which you’ve no doubt seen or done.
There are so many logistics to juggle when you’re planning a fundraising event:
which venue, what entertainment, ticket pricing, getting folks to attend, staffing, auction items and on and on. And who’s going to run this thing??
If your event has a live auction or Fund-a-Need appeal for donations, there’s just too much riding on your 1-Night, Once-a-Year event to risk with just Joe Anybody. Hire a professional who does fundraising for a living, all year long. Once your fundraising is safeguarded, consider asking this auctioneer to serve as MC for you. Benefit Auction specialists will be charismatic and able to command the crowd’s attention. Doubling up like this will save you time and money, since you won’t have to do the back-and-forth to confirm and manage another person or pay for another meal.
If you want a different voice to host your event for whatever reason, then certainly invite a community dignitary, involve your Board president, a TV news anchor, or even a celebrity in your program.
But whatever you do, don’t hand over your fundraising
to anyone who is a professional something-else!
Those well meaning folks can leverage their personalities and knowledge of the crowd in a support role. Use your special guest in direct interaction with your attendees, but leave the auction psychology to the fundraising pro.
Your celebrity or community dignitary can best benefit your event by:
- Donating a Chance-of-a-Lifetime opportunity to the auction. (Actress Cheryl Hines donated a private poker party with her to her favorite central Florida gala!)
- Hosting his/her own table for the dinner portion and inviting folks to bid for the chance to move to that VIP table
- Working the Live Auction on the floor, shaking hands and encouraging those who bid
- Drawing attention to your high-end items by visiting with folks at the Live Auction table during the 90-minute preview time
Your Board president can best benefit your event by:
- Hosting a pre-event VIP reception for last year’s big spenders and this year’s sponsors and special guests, giving them an initial hour to sip champagne, schmooze, and shop the auction unencumbered by the masses. These guests might even get a mini live auction with 3-5 things that are only offered to this elite VIP group.
- Promote the importance of fundraising by escorting VIPs and likely deep pockets personally to the Live Auction display table and facilitating an introduction with the auctioneer. This serves your guests by making them aware of the opportunities only available that night, and it initiates the rapport important to getting more bidding.
- Thanking the event sponsors and really explaining how their large gifts allow you to provide services.
Your TV news anchor (or Board member, CEO, staff member, or services recipient) can best benefit your event by:
1. Sharing the emotional appeal of your mission by putting faces and personal stories to the services you deliver. Getting the right person to introduce the video, deliver a keynote, or set up the Fund-a-Need appeal is crucial.
2. Being available to the guests throughout the night, mingling and adding a welcoming warmth to the festivities.
While several folks are appropriate for various aspects of MC hosting, the money you need to operate for months will come from the auction and appeal proceeds, so entrust the opening bids, the increments, the snap and sizzle of the numbers to a benefit auction specialist.