P.A.R.T.N.E.R. Your Way to Great Habitat Partner Events
Habitat Partners took to the waters for a relaxing day of fishing with Brian Anderson, RMEF’s regional director in Western Washington. Following the P.A.R.T.N.E.R. plan to stage an event is a great place to start, even for unique events such as this.
When you’ve tied on your apron, rolled up your sleeves and are looking for the best ingredients to create a great Habitat Partner reception, following a proven recipe can be a great start. Then you can adapt the plan to match the flavor of your own chapter.
These receptions may include dinner and a short program, or they could be a weekend event built around a project tour or outside activities that concludes with dinner and program.
Many chapters use this outline to create successful Habitat Partner receptions—fine-tuning an event that has been around since the early 1990s. It is simple, easy to remember and offers the opportunity for you to alter it to fit your needs.
P is for People.
Invite the right ones and you're on the road to success. Your list should include those with the inclination to give or who have given often in the past, lead volunteers, RMEF volunteers, area members and even members of the RMEF Board of Directors and Habitat Council. Inviting one or both of RMEF’s founders—Bob Munson and Charlie Decker—can help ensure a successful evening, but that invite must be sent a year or more in advance. Contact your regional director for advice.
A is for Atmosphere.
The location and quaintness of a facility goes a long way to making the evening perfect. A rustic, yet quality lodge in the woods or on the water is a great example of good atmosphere. Other essentials include professional signage, RMEF’s mission dashboard and pertinent materials; animal mounts and themed décor; and, of course, great food and drink.
R is for Relativity.
Tie your reception to the mission, such as an elk release or a specific project when possible. States without elk can focus on national projects, state grants, conservation education, or elk in nearby states. For years Indiana and Ohio chapters have used the Kentucky and Michigan elk herds as a great connection to their events.
T is for Timing.
Allow at least four months to plan your event. Six is even better. You will be surprised how quickly the date arrives, so give yourself enough time to hold planning meetings. Take every measure to ensure you aren't competing with another big activity, such as sports playoffs, other organization banquets or local events.
N is for Nice.
Dress up your facility with quality linen, flatware and dinnerware. Offer the best food and spirits and even quality local entertainment. Utilize your regional director’s resources and headquarter resources to provide professional invitations and signage at the door. If your event includes a project tour or other outside activity, have adequate bathroom facilities, drinking water and snacks on hand. If you are providing transportation, make sure the vehicles are dependable, clean and pleasing to the eye.
E is for Easy.
Three Tips on Timing
1. Scheduling a reception with a related activity of an elk release, for instance, is a perfect way to piggyback an emotional moment with a call to help support the mission.
2. Receptions are often held the night before a chapter’s banquet. Keep in mind all gifts resulting from a reception that are received within 45 days after the banquet count toward the banquet net.
3. Revenue from Habitat Partner receptions will be credited to your state, increasing the amount of funds that come back to your state leadership team for funding-approved Project Activity Committee (PAC) grants, or state grants for places without elk populations.
Make your event accessible for anyone who wants to attend, regardless of his or her physical condition or situation. Hold it near or in a major city or attraction and consider how attendees will get there. A major airport within a two-hour drive will broaden your invitation list. Have other activities planned for spouses, such as a fishing or golf outing, or shopping trips. It's always nice to present them with a small gift bag to show your appreciation for their attendance as well.
R is for Results.
All of this hard work is for naught if you are disappointed with the results. The most important moment of any reception is the ask. The person making the ask in their speech should be knowledgeable, passionate and, hopefully, a donor himself or herself. It could be a lead volunteer, the regional director, major gift officer or other representative of the Elk Foundation.
To ensure a successful ask, secure a lead gift before the event takes place, if possible. A lead gift allows you to recognize someone in the group who has made the commitment to write a check for the event’s purpose. It will almost always spur a friend or other member of the group to step up as well.
Follow the P.A.R.T.N.E.R. outline and you will be pleased with the results of your event. Your chapter and state will benefit as well through increased revenue and recognition. Most importantly, you will have played a significant role in ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
RMEF major gift officer, retired