I was lucky enough to find in high school something that I was passionate about and that I could spend the rest of my life doing-event planning. I got my first taste of event planning and fundraising my sophomore year when I decided to help out with the high school dance marathon to raise money for a local domestic violence shelter. After working several months to plan, advertise, and fundraise for this 12-hour event, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of event planning. I worked on the dance marathon committee and held a position for the following two years.
This summer I am interning at the Foundation For Youth in Columbus, Indiana working on the 15th Annual Columbus Challenge Sprint Triathlon. It is still early in my internship, but I will share some of the key skills I’ve noticed are required to become a great event planner.
Although it is event planning this is a new territory for me. The last few events I planned I had a budget that could put someone through college. For this event we have barely any money to spend because FFY is a not-for-profit. Good event planners need to be extremely creative. Each cause or event comes with different stipulations. Often these events have smaller budgets, so it’s up to the planners to innovatively make a lot with a little.
There are two main aspects of my internship. The first aspect is working on getting sponsorships. Sponsorships are very important because 85% of the families Foundation For Youth serves are below poverty level thus requiring them to be on scholarship to participate in our programs. I have been writing up letters to potential sponsors and calling them to follow up. A very important thing I have learned thus far is the importance of building positive relationships with potential sponsors. A key to getting a great sponsorship repeatedly is not to ask for a hand out but to figure out how both parties can benefit from this.
The other aspect of my job is planning the dinner and race packet pick up the night before the race. Typically this event is just for the racers. This year we have decided to turn the night before into a “block party” and another fundraiser. My other mentor and I have brainstormed ideas for activities and how to get families involved. We have come up with some good ideas to get other health-conscious organizations in the community involved. By partnering with other organizations with even lose affiliation events can become so much more powerful.
So far this internship has been a very great learning experience for me. I can’t wait to see the turn out for our event and the race in August.