Q: I am the new development director for a local food bank. I'm having trouble coming up with ideas for a Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event. I'm wondering if you are aware of what other food banks have done for this?
Daneal in Montana
A: In planning a Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event, you must consider a few key criteria.
The event is ideally something you are already doing at your organization: a programmatic, mission-focused event that highlights the impact of a donor's support. This may require tweaking the event slightly (adding a small reception before the main event just for donors, as an example). It also needs to be completely free: no ticket price, no solicitation at the event, etc. Whatever you choose, the event needs to combine an update on the organization through a Visionary Leader talk and a strong emotional component, ideally in the form of a testimonial speaker.
Once you have narrowed down your options, think about the time of year that you'd like to hold the event, keeping in mind that we recommend you hold two Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events per year.
Food banks that we have worked with have used an event related to one of their programs quite successfully. You might have a holiday party at one of your Kids Café sites with a small reception beforehand to thank the donors. You could have donors come out and pack Thanksgiving food boxes—have a reception after with a testimonial from a family who has received a food box in past years.
Make sure that the event clearly illustrates one example of how the donors' support has made a difference for the people you serve. Be sure to do follow-up after the event to invite donors to serve as Ambassadors and to learn about how they might want to get more involved.