Volunteers, achieving exceptional results for their cause
Eleanor Cater, FINZ
NewzViewz, Issue #100
The volunteer team who have been staging the The Diplomatic Ball for the Friends of the Cancer Society Wellington have been running this event for 10 years and have raised a staggering $1m over that time. Their latest event, held in Wellington in December 2015, raised $245,000, and this one event took out the Flightdec Special Award at the recent FINZ Excellence in Fundraising Awards.
Judith Langridge is part of the five person volunteer team managing the event and she explains that the idea behind the event was to get together corporates and a group of people, outside of their normal donor/volunteer pool, to spread the fundraising net wider. "Our team's success is that we are a good mix of people with different skillsets that merge really well. We are also a small team so we don't have those difficult dynamics that can come with a big group. Our capabilities are very strong."
Further, for the team, the cause is very meaningful. Judith says that they have all been touched by cancer in some way, "Just about everyone has lost loved ones so there is real motivation to do as much as we can because of that. We have personally seen what we are fundraising for, and it really does reinforce our commitment to the cause."
The event also has very good and loyal sponsors, with many remaining with the event over the entire 10 years since its inception. "We have stewarded our relationship with oru sponsors and they are really keen to remain involved. It's a long term commitment from the." As well as this the Diplomatic Spouses (Spouses of Head of Mission) are part of the key to the event's success as they help to procure many of the auction items, as well as helping to sell tickets.
The organisers are careful to also use the event as an opportunity to get across messages of the need of ongoing support for the Cancer Society. Judith explains that a big challenge they face is that a lot of people assume that they are government funded. "It's really important that we communicate the message that we rely on other fundraising streams. Often people don't understand this until they are faced with a diagnosis and need the support, so the ball is a good opportunity to talk to a wide audience about the Cancer Society and our services. We are careful not to make it too serious, we want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, but we do subtly get our message across, in a way that is appropriate for an evening such as this. We do this with care, as our supporters have already donated $250 for their ticket." Because of sponsorship, all ticket sales and auction proceeds are effectively a donation which, Judith says, is a unique and strong selling point for the ball.
The current volunteer team include Erica Newell, Anne-Louise Gower, Chris Dunphy, Robin Turner, and Judith Langridge ut they are looking for new members to join them. Judith says, "There comes a time when you have to start recruiting new blood, any committee has a lifetime of its own and we are very aware that we need to get other people on board - possibly a younger group of people with different networks from ours and fresh ideas."