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Getting Started/Logistics

June 15, 2008

Nearly all chapters choose one member to lead their NPD event and chair the NPD committee, although some chapters use a co-chair system.  In some cases, the NPD chair is the president-elect of the chapter.  In any event, the individual is usually (but not always) a member of the chapter board or executive committee. 

Working with the NPD chair is usually a committee of anywhere between five to fifteen individuals.  This is the NPD committee, or the Event or Steering Committee as it is sometimes called. Some chapters only select members to serve on the NPD committee, but many invite other interested representatives from the charitable sector, corporate sector and the general public.

Selecting NPD committee members from beyond just the chapter membership can be a good way of increasing awareness of the event. It is also an excellent way to identify and cultivate future leadership, Chapters who cosponsor their NPD event with other charitable or community organizations have a number of different representatives on their event committee.

Most chapters have reported that the more people they involve in the planning of the event, the higher the level of interest and participation. New members who have expressed an interest in participating in chapter events are often good candidates for the NPD committee, as it will allow them to “get their feet wet” quickly and meet a number of chapter members. At the same time, having too many individuals on the committee can lead to problems and make it difficult to reach consensus. 

Three other key points stand out as chapters begin to develop their NPD event:

  • Planning and organization are crucial.  A timeline is important to develop early in the process so that deadlines can be adhered to.  The committee should hold frequent meetings to update its progress and ensure deadlines are being met.  A good time to hold these meetings are immediately after or before chapter meetings or events.
  • Members of the NPD committee should have solid organizational skills and be able to work independently while keeping on close touch with the rest of the committee (this is especially important with smaller chapters where one person may be responsible for a significant aspect of the event).
  • Document everything, including procedures, decisions, and minutes from meetings.  This will not only be helpful for future NPD committees, but will be important should disagreements arise about who was responsible for what or if there are problems with vendors or sponsors. Some chapters develop job descriptions for each role and create notebooks with tabs for each committee member.  The notebook is passed on from chair to chair every year and contains comments and recommendations from individuals who worked on previous NPD events.

The more you plan ahead of time and document your activities, the easier you will make it for yourself, the committee and the chapter as Nov. 15 (or whatever date your chapter has chosen) approaches.

COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLITIES

The NPD Committee has a lot of work to do.  Typically, the best way to break down responsibilities is to assign one aspect of the NPD event to one person or a group of persons.  In smaller chapters, usually one person becomes NPD Publicity Chair or Sponsorships Chair.  In larger chapters, these individuals become subcommittee chairs of the Publicity Committee or Sponsorship Committee.  Frequently, two to five people serve on these subcommittees. 

Each chair or subcommittees focuses on a specific aspect of the NPD event. The following responsibilities are usually handed out to members of the Steering Committee:

  • Publicity – Responsible for publicizing the event both internally (preparing information for the chapter newsletter, and website and other communications vehicles) and externally (the media and other outside organizations). This member or subcommittee might also work on obtaining a proclamation from the government for the NPD celebration.
  • Sponsorships/Underwriting – Responsible for generating corporate support of the NPD celebration, which might range from sponsorship of the entire event to the purchase of special VIP tables.
  • Awards – Responsible for determining who will be honored at the NPD celebration. While chapters are free to honor any appropriate individual or organization, AFP's Awards for Philanthropy currently honor an Outstanding Philanthropist, Volunteer Fundraiser, Corporation, Foundation and Fundraising Executive. AFP's International Headquarters encourages chapters to nominate their local award winners for one of these categories. Information on AFP's awards program can be found on AFP’s website (www.afpnet.org) by clicking on “NPD and AFP Awards.” The deadline for nominations is July 15.
  • Administration/Registration – Responsible for ticket sales (in coordination with the Sponsorships/Underwriting chair), registration and table assignments for the event. Usually responsible for event logistics, such as food, schedule and timing of the event, and other matters.
  • Printed Materials – Responsible for the creation and purchase of awards, certificates, program, brochure, flier and other materials. This responsibility is sometimes merged with the Publicity function.
  • Exhibitors – Responsible for soliciting and coordinating vendor presence at event. This responsibility is sometimes merged with the Sponsorship/Underwriting function.

Program Committees responsibilities do not have to be divided up this way.  The listing above is simply one common example.

PLANNING AN AWARDS EVENT

An NPD awards event is often the biggest event a chapter holds every year.  Not only is it an important way to raise the profile of the chapter and increase awareness of charitable giving in the community, it can also bring in substantial revenue.  Thus, it needs to be planned correctly.

Your NPD Committee's plan must encompass all of the logistics of the event: who, what, when, where, how and how much.  Costs should be budgeted for awards, printing, postage, meals, room rental, flowers, professional photographs, video, speaker honoraria, advance media advertisements and whatever else your event requires.

It's important to keep all committee members informed about any activity initiated by the chair that falls within their area of responsibility, so that all efforts are well coordinated.  It's also important to hold frequent planning meetings to keep your NPD subcommittees on track. Always expect the unexpected: maybe it's not really true that whatever can go wrong will go wrong, but being prepared for that possibility will make all the difference.

Anticipate considerations regarding:

  • Parking - cost, space, and proximity - Perhaps include reduced parking cards with the invitations.Food - special diets due to religious or health reasons. Offer a request for vegetarian dinners on the RSVP card.
  • Service - the flow of food service should be appropriate for the schedule of the event. There is nothing like the sound of a hundred forks being used at the same time to completely drown out a speaker.
  • Facilities - room and tables should be arranged and decorated properly for your event.
  • Seating arrangements - who’s sitting where and how close to the stage. This can be one of the most sensitive issues.
  • Speakers – they should be prepared and the chapter should have a fair idea of what they’re going to say. If they’re not familiar with AFP, send them some information about the organization and your chapter.
  • Awards – appropriate and tasteful for the event. The chapter should be aware of any controversies regarding the winners or the judging process and be prepared to take any necessary actions (it does happen!).
  • Media – are they attending? If necessary, is the necessary technical equipment available in the facility? The chapter should consider sending out a press release the day after the event if media coverage is not already guaranteed.
  • Event production – confirm what format(s) your facility’s technical crew prefers for your audio visual materials prior to investing in video or special presentations. A pre-event walk-through should be scheduled with the event facility’s technical team to ensure the smooth production of your event program and test all sound, lighting, video and other special effects.

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