It Pays to Foster Great Vendor Relationships

The planning and execution of a non-profit fundraising event can take months of preparation, but my favorite parts of these events are the actual event days: on site (once again, thank goodness), everything is in motion, any and all problems WILL be solved as they occur. Mostly because it’s event day, and there is no choice other than to make necessary decisions quickly, so the outward-facing event details are seamless and successful. 

Relationships have been established with honorees, donors, supporters, etc. over the course of the planning process, and these relationships are invaluable. Just as important are the relationships you forge “in the trenches”, on site, on event day. On-site one-day-only relationships with the catering captains, the maître d’, the restroom attendants, and the valet parking attendants are as crucial to the success of the event as all the longstanding relationships with constituents. None more important than the relationship forged with the A/V production team on site at the venue.

You may have an email relationship with the A/V lead whilst reviewing and signing the contract, but the on-site A/V team will most likely be folks you’ll be meeting on event day. The in-house A/V team at a venue are a well-oiled machine, well-versed in the specifics of their particular venue, and well-used to individual clients coming onboard on event day with the specifics of their event. Pro tip: the more organized, detailed and specific your Run of Show, script, and video/slideshow collateral is, the smoother your event will go. The A/V team are professionals and can and will handle any curveballs you throw at them but will certainly appreciate organized and technically appropriate collateral in the interest of producing a smooth event.

A recent example of how having a good working relationship with the A/V team at an event can really save your program is with a recent event we helped produce for the City College of New York. CCNY recently celebrated their 175th Anniversary with their Presidential Awards Gala, and there was a beautiful anniversary video, several speakers and honorees, etc. As sometimes happens, the speakers at the Gala tended to go on quite a bit, and we knew the program was going to run over the advertised end time. The final event of the program was to be a live drawing of raffle ticket numbers to see who would win several tech, sponsor, and school-related prizes. A live drawing of raffle winning tickets could take 10-15 minutes – time which we did not have. 

Never fear – our A/V partners for the evening were adaptable and willing to work with us as we made the decision to show a slide of winning raffle numbers at the conclusion of the program, hurriedly picked winning raffle tickets while crouched in the A/V booth, and read the numbers to the A/V tech who created a slide (branded with color and design to match the look and feel of the entire program) with about 15 minutes to spare. This on-the-fly decision ended up saving valuable time in the program and CCNY was thrilled that the team was able to make this adjustment. 

Another charity partner of ours, the St. George’s Society of New York, held their annual fundraising Gala, the English Ball this spring, and Powered by Professionals was organized and well-prepared with a robust and detailed Run of Show as well as beautiful program slides to be employed throughout the evening’s events. What wasn’t anticipated was that the client had revised the A/V contract just a few days prior in an effort to ensure that all funds raised went directly to the mission of SGS, which left us without IMAG for the program. IMAG involves having an extra camera in the A/V setup which will broadcast what is happening on stage on screens throughout the room. If there is no IMAG, the program slides can be organized with a holding slide in between each of the content slides. But that cannot be done 30 minutes before the program begins. Our stellar A/V production team took this in stride, and together, we worked to utilize split-second timing to advance the program slides at the exact right moments so no one in the audience would see anything other than exactly what they were intended to see.

These on-site vendor relationships are built on teamwork and mutual trust, as well as professionalism and experience. PBP recently helped another client, Power My Learning, with their 2022 Innovative Learning Awards. The A/V team at that venue went above and beyond and not only took our Run of Show and program slides and ran with them on their own (it’s typical to have a PBP rep in the A/V booth cueing the slides and speakers), but the A/V team also held their own rehearsal with the auctioneer/MC to smooth out in advance a couple tricky parts of the program – involving young children having to speak onstage. The program went off without a hitch, and the children charmed the room.

Fostering successful and fruitful event day relationships with vendors (most especially with A/V teams) is not only my favorite part of event planning, but also a task that Powered by Professionals handles seamlessly every time to help produce a financially and emotionally engaging event. Mutual respect and appreciation are appropriate everywhere in life, and absolutely in the charity event day world.

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