What exactly is a ’boutique’ event?
In the last 12- 16 months I have seen a major increase in smaller, boutique events achieving all their targets they set from their charity organisation. By that I mean, the event is sold out, increase in partnerships that start small but grow to become partnerships across the whole business and achieving their financial targets. I have found that larger events that range from 600 -1000 are struggling to meet their numbers unless they have some major draw card or point of difference these days.
A boutique event is something that ranges from 100 – 250 people. Generally they are an intimate dinner, cocktail function, gala event, small exhibition and or tailored function for a particular audience. An example of a tailored function can be a private art show at a donor’s home that is an exclusive invitation and one off experience.
Boutique events seem to work well for charities as they pose less risk for charities both financially and mentally. These two elements are important for any charity when they take on a fundraising event as we all know the immense amount of work goes into any live event. When you are dealing with an event from 600-1000 people, your whole outlook needs to be elevated and your team needs to work at a pace that can uphold the level and quality that event deserves.
With boutique events, the level of work and commitment from the internal team of a charity still needs to be high, however the risk financially and mental anguish is much smaller. Some of you may read this and say that is not true in regards to the mental anguish, however I would argue, if you plan, plan, plan and plan some more, all events are run with ease, it is the level of details that makes the event sell out and stand out.
Boutique events allow everyone attending the event to immerse them and have an intimate experience. If the event is executed properly and professionally, everyone in the room will feel they are at a function with family and friends making a huge difference to the community and charity they are supporting.
Here are some key tips in getting this formula right for boutique events:
- Clarify the aims and objectives of your event and be very specific. Outline how many people you would like to attend even if you break it down and be specific that you would like 100 existing donors and supporters in the room and 100 new prospective supporters.
- Be very clear what funds you would like to raise at the event and where you are putting the money towards. By having a clear message at the event of where the money is going towards, it will allow the audience to be immersed into your journey that is specific for this event. Use the KISS method – the simpler the message and tangible, the easier for audience to engage and donate.
- Ensure that if you have a working committee on this event, they are passionate and dedicated people who have the right connections to pull in the right people to your event. In a committee that I worked on for SCOPE Ball, we even gave the committee members a job description of what was expected from them to sit on the committee. It was great way on engaging them all and giving them all clear directions of what they need to do.
- Boutique events are a winner when the right people are in the room who feel they can make a difference big or small!
- Guest list – that can be difficult for a number of smaller organizations as they do not have the right connections or database. However based on experience you need to start somewhere. Doing nothing produces nothing…so you need to start crawling to walk and then run. So get connected, start moving and get your leaders in the organisation to start knocking on doors to have the right people in the room. The reality is the most people who attend events are connected to the cause or have a connection to someone at the event and or organization. P.S it’s not always about the celebrity in the room!
- If and where possible build a relationship with key sponsors that can help your bottom line. That can be the venue, the local council, the caterer, the AV supplier and any other supplier that can help reduce the bottom line.
- Where possible get once in a life time experiences to auction off at events. The ones people dream of having and attending or being part of. A great example of this was one of Australia’s famous millionaires donated their private plane for a weekend to fly four people down to Tasmania and spend the weekend at MONA. Great experience and lots of money for the Mental Health Research Institute.
- Always make sure your event is fun and not boring. Keep speeches to a minimum and make the night interactive with various guest experiences. A great example of this was at the Guide Dogs Victoria Opaque Ball where guests ate their entrée with a blindfold. This sensory event celebrated the youthful face of Guide Dogs Victoria, bringing to life the stories of the young people who are part of the Children’s Mobility Service. This integral program provides training to students who are vision impaired or blind, enabling them to develop their confidence, learn important life skills and build towards a brighter, more independent future. Guests engaged their senses and experienced there entrée course under blindfold reflecting on this moment, they related to the 1,500 Victorians to whom Guide Dogs Victoria provide their services each year.
Overall Boutique events have a larger appeal as the aims and objectives can be met, therefore making the charity feel like it is in control and they have a winning event! Contact Perfect Events today to enquire about your Boutique Event.
By Liliana Sanelli – Perfect Events CEO and Event Guru (first published in Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine 2015)