November 6, 2015 Timing Is Everything
How many times have you planned your gala’s evening time line down to the minute, only to have that agenda high jacked by the catering staff? I advise nonprofits to work with their professional fundraising auctioneer to establish a timeline or show flow for your event. I suggest you assign a point person to facilitate this show flow by coordinating with the speakers and catering staff to ensure everything happens as planned. This person should also be the central contact person for communications with your auctioneer event night.
Many times called a stage manager among our groups, this point person will work closely with the wait staff manager. I advise you to set this up in advance with the caterer so they know who they will be working with before they arrive for the event.
Your show flow should include information on when volunteers are to arrive, who is doing what and at what time. Share the show flow with the caterer, AV Company and presenters/speakers.
Here are some things you’ll want to list on the show flow:
- Arrival time for volunteers
- Sound and lighting check for your auctioneer and other presenters/speakers
- Doors opening time and who is to be where when that happens
- Who speaks when, including a time for them to be “on deck” and ready to go on
- A plan for delivering any drawing vessels to the stage at the appropriate time
- Times when the salads are to be set and when the entrees and desserts are to be served
- Checkout opening time
Here is why a stage manager is particularly helpful in with coordinating food service with the caterer; although you have assigned times for specific aspects of the food service for the evening, things can and do happen that will cause the evening to go off schedule. Maybe you started early or late for some reason (traffic delayed guests to the event, etc). Be sure to emphasis this possibility to the wait staff manager. Better yet, don’t include food service times on their copy of the show flow – instead simply state “entrees served during welcome” and “dessert served after appeal”. Then as the stage manager you are orchestrating these events via the wait staff manager, who is deeply focused on serving your guests and probably not tuned in to what is happening on the stage. To summarize, those serving times on the show flow are never driven by the clock but instead driven by the evenings’ events as they happen. And the stage manager is the person conveying to the wait staff manager when those entrees need to start coming out, not a time on the clock.
A stage manager is a very valuable part of your fundraising event night, the person who drives the show flow to ensure things happen as planned. This person will not only possibly prevent costly mistakes from happening (timing really is everything!) but they will also free up the members of the committee and/or board to greet guests and be the face of the nonprofit.
Make every minute a revenue generating minute!
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