I have worked for Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry in Spanish Fork Utah as their Community Development Coordinator for the last 3 months. My first assignment was to plan their Cottage Meeting fundraiser on June 15, 2022. The goal of the event is to reach out to members of the community who have means, time, or influence and generate awareness and funding for the ongoing needs at the Food Pantry.
I chose to work with Tabitha’s Way to further my knowledge of the non-profit sector in the business community. I’m passionate about helping people, especially children. Food should be a fundamental right, not a privilege in this country. I wanted to see how much of an impact I could make by volunteering my time and expertise in the communications field to increase their funding and community outreach.
I created the invitation.
At every guest place setting, I placed a client story card I created telling about of the service Tabitha’s Way provides, along with a legacy donor slip to help guests know the variety of ways they can support us financially. Each guest also received a Tabitha’s Way logo lapel pin as a thank you for attending.
While the event was successful, there are some things we will do differently next time. Namely, invite more people. We were concerned about the limited space, and didn’t want to overflow capacity. Our goal was to get 40 people in attendance. We had just over half that. Next time, we will invite more guests knowing that some will cancel at the last minute.
I attended the monthly Development Team meetings to discuss strategy and logistics for the fundraiser. I created the promotional and marketing material as well as designed signage that was used at the meeting. I coordinated the floor plan and equipment, chose the caterer, ordered the food, created the decorations, and set up for the event. The speakers were Wendy Osborne, Executive Director and founder; Amber Mendenhall, volunteer and wife of Mayor Mike Mendenhall; and the most impactful speaker was Kelly Wilcox, a recipient of the food services at Tabitha’s Way. These speakers were addressing the ongoing needs that a food pantry experiences, the benefits of volunteering, the meaning it can create in your family, and how the food pantry impacts the individual and their connection with other resources the pantry provides. After the presentation, the ask was to donate either money, time or influence.
Overview of Experience
The event brought in $7,139.00 plus five new recurring donors, and three new social media influencers. The total expenses for the event was $498.00, so our net gain was $6,641.00. Not bad for a first time! Because of the success, the Cottage Meetings will be held semiannually with the next one scheduled for October 5, 2022. I was able to meet the Co-founder of the north Tabitha’s Way food pantry, Al Switzer, who is a successful entrepreneur and renowned author. I also met other influential people in my own community.
Insights and Take-aways
I learned that my experience with events planning was invaluable in successfully executing this event. I received many compliments from attendees. My skills with media communications was necessary for me to contribute professional marketing and promotions material. This experience further cemented my desire to help people with food insecurity in my community. After almost two years in lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has been nice to get out and rub shoulders with business owners in the community. My take-away is that one person may not be able to do much on their own, but if I am willing to link arms with others who share my same values and vision, much can be accomplished.