June 15, 2008
The materials you print for your chapter’s NPD event are critical for three reasons. First, they will be the permanent last reminders of your event. When the memories start to fade, participants can still look at the program or other material. Second, if individuals aren’t especially familiar with AFP, then their initial perception of your chapter will be based on the invitation and other materials they see about the event. Third, they are a platform for recognizing sponsors, underwriters and award recipients.
For these reasons, make sure your printed materials are of the highest quality. Highest quality does not necessarily mean “most expensive” or “most artwork.” Some striking pieces can be created with a minimum of artwork or artistic flair.
What your printed pieces should absolutely include is your chapter logo and the NPD logo. Branding is crucial. This is one of your chapter’s biggest events all year; it needs to be associated with your chapter and AFP. If you’re cosponsoring the NPD event with other charities, then obviously it may not be appropriate to have your chapter logo on the materials. But printed materials (especially invitations) that don’t make it crystal clear who’s putting on the event are a missed opportunity.
You can (and definitely should) ask a print shop for discounted or free printing for NPD.
Strive for top-quality printed materials to indicate a first-class event. Arrange with a print shop or other organization to have your printing donated, if possible. (If donated printing is hard to find, call a high school or college graphic arts/printing department. You might be surprised at the quality, especially with the computer equipment that many schools have available now.)
Invitations should be mailed MONTHS in advance of the event.
Hand-addressed envelopes with real stamps (not a postage machine) will get the most attention on a busy executive's crowded desk. Or you can ask your members to enclose an invitation with a personal letter. Because there are so many charity events now, two months is probably the minimum at which you should send invitations.
The invitation can be structured in a variety of ways, but a few items should be clear:
- the purpose of the event (i.e., to honor the listed award winners)
- the date and time
- the place (don't forget to include directions or a simple map)
- the cost (and the percentage of the cost that may be tax deductible)
- a name and telephone number(s) for the RSVP, or a reply card and envelope
- the AFP logo
- the NPD logo
It's nice to mail formal invitations even if the awards ceremony is being held in conjunction with a seminar and has already been mentioned on a brochure. This indicates that your chapter is committed to honoring the award winners. And you will be able to reach people who may be interested in honoring the winners but who may not be interested in the seminar.
Be creative with your invitations and publicity materials.
Some chapters have used portions of a gubernatorial proclamation in their brochures used to advertise NPD luncheons and workshops. Mention current events and issues that are affecting philanthropy. For example, in 1998, some chapters used the philanthropy stamp in their promotional material. And of course, make ample use of the NPD logo.
Publicize the event with more than just the official invitation.
Some chapters mail a postcard to announce the upcoming seminar and/or awards event. This notification can also be incorporated into your newsletter. Special newsletter supplements can also draw attention to your event. And the more the media cover the event, the more free publicity the chapter will get. Chapters should note that the policy determining reservations, cancellations, and refunds for the ceremony and/or the seminar should be determined in advance and made clear on all promotional materials.
Perhaps not everyone, but almost everyone! Ask all of your chapter members, award winners, judges and anyone else associated with the event to suggest invitees. If you are working with other charities, foundations, associations or other groups, ask them for suggestions. Be sure to always invite all previous award winners!
Every member of your chapter should include information about the NPD event in their organization’s own newsletter and website. NPD committees should write up a short blurb about the event and email it to all members so they will have some text for their newsletter and website. All chapter members should invite their own board members too.
Chapters should also consider inviting government officials (members of Congress or Parliament, the Mayor, members of the City Council, etc.) to the event. This can be a great way of increasing awareness of the chapter and issues related to fundraising. An official could issue a proclamation about the NPD event or publicize the event in some other way (mention it in remarks, for instance). The flip side is that such officials might want a little time to speak at the event. However, this can be positive if the official is a good speaker and keeps the remarks in the spirit of the event (and most are savvy enough to know this.).
Leave no stone unturned.
One week before the event, members of the invitation committee will have to call invitees who have not responded. As soon as your guest list begins to fill out, it should be given to the individuals responsible for name tags and table place cards (if you’re using those).
The AFP International Headquarters is interested in seeing samples of a chapter's NPD invitations. Please fax or mail a copy to AFP/Public Affairs, NPD Chapter Material, 4300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203, Fax: 703/684-0540.
Printed programs range from simple to elaborate. At its core, a program contains a schedule and brief biographies and photographs of the awardees and other VIPs. Note that the printed information should not simply restate what is to be said about the award recipient when he/she is introduced. One good way to ensure this is to have the presenter speak with the honoree ahead of time and jot down a few notes, stories, etc.
Ideally, the program should include materials beyond just the schedule and honoree information. Remember that many of your guests may not be familiar with NPD, the chapter or AFP. The program is a good way to explain the significance of NPD, what AFP is, and the work of the chapter in the local community. If guests take anything with them, it will probably be the program, so think of it as a potential education tool.
If there is a significant story behind the awards (for example, if they are named after a distinguished person), you may wish to outline the history and the contribution made by the person for whom the award is named. A list of past winners of each award is always a good idea and can help to cultivate past winners as possible sponsors in the future.
Recognizing each of the judges for the awards is highly recommended, and including the names and titles of the chapter board is also quite popular. Of course, the names of the NPD committee should also be listed as well. Including the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, or the Donor Bill of Rights, may be appropriate near the end of the program. Some chapters include an evaluation form for attendees to help assess the success of the program.
Some chapters allow organizations and companies to take out “advertisements” in the program, highlighting a volunteer, employee, trustee or other leader active in philanthropic programs. This process has been very successful for some chapters. “Advertisement” space in the event program may also be part of Sponsorship/Underwriting packages.
FINAL NOTE: The program should be one of the last things that is finalized, and be sure not to print it too early. There are always sponsors who want to participate at the last moment, and it’s always good to include as many of them as possible in the program.