I attended the March AFP Central Valley luncheon with guest speaker, Brad Stevens, Coordinator for Valley Crime Stoppers and planner of one of the valley’s biggest fundraising events, the June Jam. Having put on this event for 20 years, Brad had some very valuable tips and tricks to putting on a successful event and keeping it successful for years to come. Some of my take-aways from his presentation are these: Be sure to make it great for everyone else. It has to be great for your sponsors, your guests, your vendors, and your volunteers. None of those are more important than the other and if they are all happy then your event will be successful and they will be asking you to be part of it again. In his experience, it takes three years to recover from a “mess up”. For many years Brad tried to book big names for the entertainment, but that didn’t always guarantee a fun night for the crowd so his advice is to just book a good dance band and at the end of the night you will have to beg people to leave. Don’t underestimate the power of trade, therefore, be prepared to comp a lot of event tickets; to the movers & shakers in the community, to vendors who supply items or to your major sponsors, because if they come and have a great time, they are more willing to want to be a part of it in many ways. Go to other big events in town with an agenda to see what they are doing and learn from it. Lastly, if you have auction items or things that require check out after the festivities have ended make sure the check out process is smooth & fast because no matter how great the event was, the last impression matters! Honestly, I could go on and on…. I have pages of notes! One of the best AFP luncheons I have attended.