Boys & Girls Club of SW Washington: Communicate Strategically & Often
When COVID-19 threatened the annual June gala for Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington Judith McMorine, the Director of Resource & Development said “no problem, we will go virtual.” The annual June gala is the major fundraiser for the year so postponing or canceling is not an option. Support this year is more important than ever as they continue to do whatever it takes to serve the youth that need them the most. During the Covid-19 response with Club, sites are physically closed yet Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington staff teams are working to help members access to food, resources, activity kits, virtual programming and connecting families to services.
Judith emphasizes it took a strong team and Events Committee made up of members of the Board of Directors and other community volunteers. She goes on note that “We are so fortunate to have a very supportive and generous community that really cares about our youth.” In the past, the annual gala for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington was an invitation-only event. The gala was always sold out to maximum capacity each year. The love and devotion from the supporters is the result of creating relationships with a most generous community.
Virtual “House Party”
Shifting the gala event to a virtual event was a must. The Event Committee decided on a fun and engaging theme of “House Party 2020” using traditional and non traditional means of connecting with supporters.
Although the event this year shifted to a virtual event the same nurturing and communication strategy was employed. It was important to make sure the invitee still felt appreciated and special leading all the way up to the event. They continued to mail out hard copy formal invitations just like when the event was an in-person gala.
Even before the decision to go virtual was made, the organizing committee had engaged We Plan It event planning expert Wendy Daniels-Sturm to help with planning and operations.
VIP admission to the Virtual House Party included:
- Pre-party package complete with a goody bag, a timeline of activities, instructions on how to view the event, instructions on how to participate
- At-home delivery the day of the Virtual House party of cuisine and beverage
Anyone who plans an event understands the importance that clear communication plays. Donors and sponsors continue to donate because they are very aware of how Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington impacts the livelihood of a child, their families, and the community at large. Communications that relaying the impact of their donations means that when it comes time to ask again, donors know where the money was spent in the past and can be sure the funds will be used just as wisely going forward.
In terms of communicating the Virtual House Party activities the same thought and considerations were made:
- Use regular communication channels.The invitees to the annual gala expect a ‘save-the-date’ notification and a printed invitation. This year they provided the same level of correspondence.
- Personal phone calls are made to ensure receipt of invitations and to encourage attendance. This year they continued this practice.
- Printed and distributed a full program of events, instructions on how to join the gala, and instructions on how to donate.
- Multiple donation pathways during the event: live auction, paddle raise, text-to-bid
Anticipating a small number of participants may want to use a more traditional donation they also included a return envelope for ease in sending in checks.
The Event Planning Committee ran through every possible what-if scenario and filled each with a solution. They did multiple dry-run and rehearsals. Sending out a program in advance showing the ease of use. They removed any potential barrier to donate and repeated the information over and over and over again.
Fun & Open Event
Every year the Boy & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington gala is a fun event. Going virtual this year the capacity was no longer limited. The community at large was able to attend and participate.
The pre-party took place using Zoom and it was a thrill. Due to shelter-in-place orders because of COVID-19 this was the first time many people connected with their friends and acquaintances.
Opening remarks were presented by the Executive Director Francisco Bueno. Francisco shared why supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington is important to the success of the child and the immediate community. They are helping more families with more services during this time of need and more than ever need financial support.
Fun is always part of the gala.
Their host and emcees have been pillars to this event providing energy and entertainment. This year was no different. The virtual event “House Party 2020” was simultaneously live streamed and broadcast locally. The live show included video testimonials, a virtual auction and call for community support.
Even when it’s over, it’s still not over. Thanking everyone for their support and reporting back on the outcome is a critical task to continue to steward the community. Although the “House Party 2020” event has concluded there is an opportunity to continue the relationship with donors, bidders & sponsors. A thank you email, letter and online posting closes the circle but opens the line for future communications.
Boys & Girls Club of SW Washington
Incorporated in April 1999 with the first Club site on the grounds of Hazel Dell Elementary School. Expanding through the years now eight clubs serve more than 3,500 youth each year.
The need for affordable after-school programming continued and our proven brand of youth development was being embraced by our community as our membership continues to grow. In partnership with Vancouver Public Schools and many other local organizations, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington continues to support the students and families in an even broader capacity.
WE Plan It is lead by Wendy Daniels-Sturm Wendy is extremely passionate and caring about the events she designs. She puts her heart into every event she creates, which is a quality that makes her very unique. Positively impacting the lives of those around her and giving to others are keys to her success.
WE Plan It creates extraordinary events by combining their passion for refinement with their promise to make each of their events a unique and diverse experience. “Refinement” is WE Plan It’s signature mark; specializing in exceptionally innovative, sophisticated and timeless events, corporate galas and fundraisers.