Creating a Spectacular Event

What goes into creating a spectacular event? Erich of Spare Key joins us to share how they have transformed their event to be something amazing!

Tell us about Spare Key.

It was founded in 1997 by a south Saint Paul family. They had a little boy, shortly after he was born he was rushed into the ER for emergency surgery to repair a heart condition he was born with. Subsequently what happened, over the course of the next couple of years their son had numerous hospitalizations and surgeries where the recoveries were a couple  of weeks or months at a time. Like a lot of families, the most significant financial commitment was their mortgage. Mom and dad had to spend time at the hospital, they were not at work. It got to the point where they were concerned about losing their home. They reached out to their family, friends, and church, they made sure they had a house to go back to. The sad part of the story, the son lost his life to the disease. A year after his passing they started SK and it’s goal was: provide families the gift of time. If SK does a mortgage payment for a family, they can focus on the kid. 

The program has evolved dramatically, that’s how we started out. SK today is a much different organization. 

You use the event to mobilize the mission, tell us about that.

Events are only as good as what you can connect in terms of your mission and engaging with people to support what you are trying to do. We have a small staff, 5 people, running an organization that supports families in 5 states. We have to find other people who are third party validators. Events aren’t just about the money, although it’s always about the money, events are really about branding your organization, about creating credibility with people who do not know who you are or what your purpose is.

Every time we get involved with an event, each and every time the goal and focus is to tie it back to the mission and our purpose, but also to energize and empower people to be our strongest advocates once they leave that event.

You entertain people at your events.

Yes let’s talk about this, the reality is consumers have choices. Minnesota has 35,000 non profits. There’s a lot of competition out there. It says a lot about who we are as Minnesotans but people have choices. Galas and events are all about choices, if given a choice between going to a gala you’ve been going to and know what it’s going to be… on a cold February night, it’s as easy for me to stay in. Our goal has been to make it tougher for people to want to stay home. We’ve focused on this idea that gala’s are obviously about raising money, but if you don’t entertain your guests, if you don’t keep them guessing and make it feel like a surprise each time while delivering the highest level of customer service you can, they’re not going to come back. 

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