I am surprised we get asked so often "why do you give a percentage of your profits to charity? Is it for the tax deduction? " My answer is "Absolutely not!"
Sometimes it goes to registered charities. Other times we go to the streets of Canberra or Melbourne, as our personal project. We stop and talk to the homeless living on the streets, learn their name and their story, and get them something they need ... coffee, warm gloves, shoes, a room for the night - paid for by the profits from Bragging Rights Events and our sister company, Mongarlowe Gourmet. We are never there to judge, just help; and we would love other businesses to follow this example.
Everyone deserves a chance. Many don't get it. So as inspiration, this is an extract from latest email I received from a man I hold in the very highest of esteem, Jon Owen;
Dear Inner Circle,
Last week we buried a young man, murdered in his mid-20s. It is one of the greatest dignities I can afford someone who exists close to the street but is also something that brings me great pain. Could there be any greater honour than to be trusted by a family to sit with them in their grief, and could there be any greater agony than sitting amid such pain and loss? In such a state, people aren’t asking philosophical nor theological questions; often, they’re doubting existence itself. There are no words to answer such doubts. All there is, is presence. The foster mother had first taken this boy in at the age of three when he was removed from his family for severe neglect. She will never forget the first night he sat down to dinner. He ignored his cutlery and dove into his dinner hands-first. The whole family thought he was about to start shovelling it into his mouth Indian style (I really am in a rare position to be able to write that). Instead he was moving his food around on the plate and staring at it as it passed through his fingers. It looked like he was playing with it rather than about to eat it. When asked what he was doing, he responded, “I’m checking for ants.” Only three years old.
During his memorial stories, we were told of a life that blew away the idea of a level playing field. I don’t think it would be fair to call the time he was in utero, “gestation”, it would be more accurate to call “a pickling process”. Stories were traded, as they are in Wayside style, about a young man who everyone loved, but who also drove everyone mad. Even the police and prison guards were in attendance at the funeral, such was the impact his life had upon them. We heard about how he used to take an extra lunch in primary school for the man who was sleeping under the bridge, and how he was first suspended for punching a kid, who was bullying some other kid who had Cerebral Palsy. We also heard how he was so driven by self-hatred that he would punish himself constantly, even from a young age.
A room full of people wept as they farewelled the beautiful young man who rarely had a chance, but it was a room full of people who loved him for who he was and not for any standard he was hopelessly unable to attain...
Pastor & CEO
Event planning takes time, energy, knowledge, patience and a whole lot of know-how. Hiring a good event strategist will take the burden from your staff, allowing them to focus on their core role, and add a much greater dimension to the event.
They can guarantee a static budget, and offer marketing expertise, creative ideas, a goldmine of contacts, and a bucketful of strategies for everything from stakeholder engagement and sponsorship development to current expectations of event goers, legal requirements and risk management.
To ensure the event manager has a thorough understand of what you are looking for in an event, it helps to plan ahead for your first meeting, and have a brief proposal sent through to them prior to that initial discussion.
The proposal should include:
* Purpose of event
* Date (actual or approximate) and time
* Address if known, otherwise location requirements (eg, within 80kms of the city centre)
* Approx number of attendees
* Any of your own ideas, for example do you have a particular theme in mind?
It doesn't need to be an in-depth proposal. The goal of a proposal is to:
* Help articulate your vision
* Help the event manager get a clear understanding of that vision
* Form the basis of the initial discussion so that all parties are on the one page
* Form the basis of an agreement that ensures your vision is realised and all expectations are met
We manage a lot of events that include networking, and attend networking events on a weekly basis. Networking is a skill. It's not about collecting as many cards as you can, and then selling your product to as many as you can - it's about creating lasting business relationships.
Here are my top hints for the new networker:
Thanking Your Host
We have had a few clients recently who have been let down by another event planner, and we have been called in at the last minute to try and rescue the event.
This is heartbreaking for the event owner, and can often mean the difference between a profit and a significant loss. Some we are able to rescue with a little creative thinking and a lot of hard work. One we had to be brutally honest and advise that, even calling in every favour we had, it just wasn't possible to get all the permits and other bits and pieces together in time and they had no option but to cancel. (We did however come up with an idea for another event which will help them recoup their losses and make the profits they were hoping to get from the failed event, and will be making that happen in 2020)
Here are our suggestions to avoid this;
1) Clearly include expectations in your agreement, including timelines and communications. The closer it is to an event, the more frequently your event planner should be talking to you, emailing you and updating project actions.
2) Be strict about adherence to these expectations. A single rescheduled meeting is not a catastrophe, but if you can see updates regularly aren't happening on the project plan when they are due, if meetings are consistently rescheduled or cancelled, it's time to act.
3) Your planner will need to be paid a percentage up front to cover expenses, but it is not unfair or unusual to ask for a percentage, between 5 and 10%, to be held back until after the event, and to pay the balance in increments. This gives you a buffer to be able to pay someone if they need to be called in at the last minute, or to be able to claim a penalty for services not provided.
4) Have a "get out of jail" clause that gives you the option to change providers if all the warning signs start to show. This could include indicators such as;
i) if over 10% of the action items are more than 14 days overdue without fair reason. A fair reason would be, if the council are delaying on giving approval for the event management plan but have not given a reason why, and the event provider can give evidence that regular contact is being made with the appropriate council staff member and is trying to resolve the issue. Without fair reason would be if council are delaying on approval because they are waiting on further information and that request has not been actioned by your event planner within a reasonable time frame.
ii) if meetings are being consistently cancelled and phone calls not returned - in other words, your event planner is just impossible to reach.
iii) if you are reaching a deadline of 45 days before the event and there are still a lot of actions outstanding other than those directly related to management of the event on the day. At 30 days before the event, all activity should be focussed on event setup, and confirmations of action items already completed (eg staffing rosters, catering numbers, set-up etc) All bookings should have been made, staff sourced, signage delivered, approvals on file etc.
If these, or any other issues, have arisen, contact your event planner and ask for an urgent meeting within 2 business days. Video meeting or in person meetings are preferably to a phone call where you can't see if the body language is matching what you are hearing. Put this request in writing, and make it clear that if these issues aren't addressed immediately you will consider it a breach of contract. You should still have in your bank at that stage, a pre-event payment and the post event buffer, and if worst comes to worst you can use that to call for rescue.
Most event planners love what they are doing and are focussed on making sure your event is absolutely perfect, but these few actions will prevent heartache and a lot of stress if something doesn't go right.
If you aren't sure, call us. It just may be that your event planner needs a hand, that they are doing everything right and communication has tripped over temporarily, that they have it in hand and don't even realise you are stressed about something, or it is just a misunderstanding - we always genuinely hope that one of these is the answer. But if it is going horribly wrong, it is easier to fix sooner rather than later!