“How do you find the right balance between delivering your message and entertaining your guests at your next event? Merrimack College was able to balance these two goals beautifully at their Together for Good Capital Campaign Kickoff Gala, which took place in the fall of 2016.”
Many organizations struggle deciding how much timing of a fundraising or friend raising event should be allocated toward content and how much time should be dedicated to allowing guests to enjoy, mix and mingle. Is the event a hard sell with your message & goals, or perhaps are they incorporated as a subtler subtext?
Below are a few suggestions of what we think helps find the balance and how these ideas were incorporated into Merrimack College’s event.
A UNIQUE VENUE:
Make sure guests feel the night is special by holding your event in a unique space that is new and exciting to guests. As opposed to hosting their event in a gym or building on campus, Corinthian Events suggested creating a large structured tent in the center of campus. Merrimack College agreed that the tent would be a special venue for this event to take place.
Note: Not only did we build a full structure tent for cocktails and dinner, but this tent included full level flooring & was fully heated to ensure the space not only looked great but was also comfortable for guests and functional for the event. There’s nothing worse than uneven walking surfaces or soggy grass to put a damper on the evening!
MESSAGE FROM START TO FINISH:
Make sure your branding and messaging is seen from start to finish, not just the night of the event. Merrimack developed an event logo and messaging for the event that was included in their invitation as well as banners that were put up around campus leading up to the event.
The entire event was designed around the Merrimack logo and colors. The cocktail hour focused on stronger branding with four 8’ tall four-sided totems, large overhead banners and plasma screens with their messaging. Custom cocktail napkins continued the messaging with each drink & hors d ’Oeuvre that was passed to guests.
Moving into the dinner tent, the design continued to be on brand but was elevated to create a more elegant feel. Merrimack’s blue and gold colors were evident in the table design from linens, napkins, florals and menu cards, which continued to reinforce the message with the menu on one side and their messaging on the other.
MAKE IT PERSONAL:
Wherever possible, try and bring elements of your organization into the event. Instead of hiring professional musicians, we utilized Merrimack’s student jazz ensemble making entertainment a bit more personal. Speakers reinforced the messaging, and in addition, we incorporated four pop-up vignettes of student & alumni speakers who discussed their personal experience at Merrimack, again making the messaging more personal and specific to the organization.
LEAVE TIME FOR GUESTS TO EAT, DRINK AND ENJOY:
Although the messaging is sometimes the planners’ ultimate goal to deliver, it is important to also leave ample time for food & beverage service and chat time among guests. It is also imperative to deliver a delicious meal with impeccable service as this will reflect on the overall guest experience.