My wife Mary and I went out for dinner a few days back. Deciding where to go was easy – our favorite restaurant. You might say we are regulars. They know us by our first names and we know the names of everyone there, including the servers and bartenders.
While looking over the menu items I happen to notice some new additions. I suppose this shouldn’t have surprised me since we were wrapping up our traditional Southwest Florida tourist season and gearing up for the quieter, less congested summer months.
It was at this time it hit me – like a palm to the forehead in the “I could have had a V-8 television ad.” Restaurants are very much like benefit auctions.
Several past blogs mentioned the fact that fundraising events should be fun and fresh. Guests tend to get bored and are unexcited about attending when events are the same year after year. New elements must be fused with traditional elements to keep the excitement level up and the guests wanting to come back.
Restaurants know this all too well. Without the introduction of new menu items their regular customers might not come back as often. This goes for the fine dining establishments as well as the major fast food chains. After all, even McDonalds is adding new items on a regular basis, while keeping the established items available on the menu.
An event chairperson is much like an executive chef. But, changing up the menu is but one of a number of comparisons that can be made between a restaurant and a fundraising event.
Both must also listen to their guests. That feedback is vital to any businesses success.
And both must be well financed to get through the lean times. Nearly every restaurant owner or general manager in Southwest Florida knows that during the tourist season it’s going to be very busy. During the summer months business is going to slow down. That’s why banking some money away is key to the restaurant’s survival.
The same holds true for any charity. If it only has one major fundraiser a year some of the money raised needs to be stashed away and used as seed money for next year’s event.
So, if you’re an event chairman, think like a restaurant. Don’t be afraid to change up your program menu. (Think fun and fresh.) Listen to your demographic. And be sure to save for a rainy day. If you do so, your guests will be clamoring for more – will continue to fill up the seats – and will more eagerly open their wallets and checkbooks.