motionball’s Paul Etherington Offers Expert Advice on Launching a Charity Event

Toronto’s Paul Etherington is the guy every fellow young professional (YP) wants to chat with when it comes to advice on charitable involvement, business, or how to throw an unforgettable party. He is, after all, behind one of the most successful YP-run charities in the country, the beloved motionball. motionball is a non-profit organization that benefits the Special Olympics Canada Foundation (SOCF) through a series of nationwide sporting and social events, including the motionball galas, like the recent #mb360 that marked the 13th annual Toronto event. To date, motionball has raised $4 million for Special Olympics Canada. Because Etherington doesn’t have time to do coffee with everyone (though we are sure he would if he could), we offer the next best thing: a monthly series where he answers some of your most asked questions and offers inspiring words of wisdom. We kicked it off with his thoughts on leadership and charitable involvement, and now the seasoned party thrower offers seven key steps to launching a charity event… 

Paul’s 7 Steps to Launching a Charity Event:

On a regular basis, I have the pleasure to meet with ambitious and passionate young Canadian entrepreneurs who are keen to make their mark within the not-for-profit sector. Often, they’re looking for advice about launching a charity event, so I first make sure to applaud their noble direction and their Lead vs. Follow attitude. I also remind them that running charity events is rife with risk and reward, but that in the end it is only those who do nothing who make no mistakes! Then – having personally done everything wrong at least once when it comes to planning and executing charity events – I walk them through my to-do List of 7 steps for launching a charity event:

1. Set a goal. Whether it’s an awareness goal or a financial goal or both, it’s important that you and your team know what the event objectives are.

2. Create a steering committee. Everything should not rest on your shoulders. Recruit a volunteer team of people who have skill sets in the following areas: a) sponsorship b) marketing c) web and graphic design d) finances and budget e) logistics and event execution f) social centre of influence (that’s someone who can run your ticket committee).

3. Know your target audience. Whether you are running a gala or a sporting event, it is integral to know who your potential audience is so that you can decide how to offer them value, entertainment and a sense of giving back.

4. Secure a presenting sponsor. No matter how large or small their support is, having buy-in from a company with a reputable name within the community provides legitimacy to your event that is paramount in your launch year.

5. Expect disappointments. Friends and associates will not always follow through on their commitments and at times it can be very disheartening, but take comfort in knowing that this happens to every event director out there. Not everyone will share the same passion for your cause as you do – that’s ok! The key is to “cut the fat” and learn from these disappointments.

6. Empower others. When particular team members have proven themselves and gone above and beyond their specific roles, reward them with larger leadership responsibilities. It’s important that your team members know that they are appreciated and viewed as equals, not subordinates.

7. Have fun! If you and your team aren’t having fun, there is no future for your event. There is no reason FUN and GIVING BACK can’t go hand in hand! 

Through a focus on these seven key elements, Etherington has ensured that the motionball galas grow bigger and better with each year and remain a hot-ticket event with Canada’s connected set of YPs. Stay tuned on Monday, when we fill you in on all you need to know about motionball’s upcoming Marathon of Sport events throughout the country.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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