This interview was initially published in our monthly eNewsletter – Strategies, Tips and Best Practices for Event Fundraising Professionals. Make sure to subscribe to get future issues.
By now you have probably heard about the committee dashboard feature within Friends Asking Friends. The committee dashboard lives within your event website and helps event committee members track their progress in recruiting corporate sponsorships and company teams.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Patti Posey, Friends Asking Friends rockstar, from Stamford Hospital Foundation to talk about how she is using the committee dashboard.
Ian: Hi, Patti. Tell us a little about your event.
Patti: Our event is Hope in Motion Walk, Run Ride. It is the 16th annual event. There are about 4,500 participants. Last year the event raised $975,000, and this year we are targeting $1,000,000.
Ian: Tell us about your event committee.
Patti: Our executive committee is volunteer based. They make decisions for the event. One of their primary goals is to go out and secure corporate sponsorships. Previously, the committee would track all of their progress offline. We would put everything on a spreadsheet — the prospects, which committee members were assigned, the notes, ect. — the spreadsheet was a mile long.
Ian: What challenges did you have with tracking via the spreadsheet?
Patti: (with a huge grin) As a staff member, I would maintain the spreadsheet. All the committee members would call me or send me emails to update the spreadsheet. This was a time-consuming process. Every week I would have to remind committee members to send in updates. I spent a significant amount of time getting updates and redistributing the spreadsheet. By the time I redistributed the spreadsheet, it was out of date. It was a pain in the neck! Nobody was really using the spreadsheet because it was so cumbersome update and read.
Ian: So we met last year at the Run Walk Ride conference and talked about the committee dashboard. I was impressed that you were so excited. Tell us why you were excited.
Patti: In speaking to committee members, I found that they really wanted a way to enter the prospective sponsorship information and manage it themselves. When I saw the committee dashboard feature, I immediately went into Blackbaud Sphere® and checked it out. The information was limited in terms of the amount of data that is tracked, but now the information is available online, everyone is looking at the same data, and this really holds everyone accountable. It is about accountability and efficiency. It is about the data being in one spot and everyone having easy access to the information they need to be great volunteers.
Ian: How did you introduce the committee dashboard to your volunteer committee?
Patti: First, I created the committee structure in the event administration area of Sphere and I loaded in all the committee members. Next, I scheduled an in-person executive committee meeting. I used a projector and logged into my personal headquarters in front of the entire volunteer committee. I showed them how to access their committee dashboard. I walked them through how to enter a prospect. I walked them through the process of getting the check and sending it to me, and that I would confirm that I received the check and the dashboard would be updated.
Ian: What was the committee’s reaction to the dashboard?
Patti: They were very impressed with the dashboard. They loved all the data in the same place. They were more than happy to stop using the monster Excel® spreadsheet. They like the fact that they can share the data and they can really understand who is doing what with whom.
Ian: Have the committee members entered prospects yet?
Patti: Yes. Oh yeah. A couple of them called me to ask how to do it again, but they are using it! We have already gotten a $10,000 sponsorship.
Ian: Have you had a problem retaining committee members, if so do you think this will help?
Patti: We haven’t had a problem retaining committee members. It is a very dedicated group. We have struggled to enable committee members to be as effective as possible. I think the dashboard is a great start to providing our most enthusiastic supporters the tools they need to help our event.
If you would like more information, you can check out a pre-recorded web seminar I did with Jodie Kolkowski from the American Heart Association: Five questions on managing event committees with Friends Asking Friends™.