Is it possible to pull off a fundraising event involving 150 people in just eight weeks? You betcha, but it’s a heck of a lot of work. What’s involved? The joint effort of many, from a dedicated planning committee of six (including two PSU MIM students), to the volunteer help of friends, coworkers, family, and many generous hearts.
The CardioStart International Fundraiser planning committee included a heart surgeon, an ICU nurse, a nurse practitioner, a respiratory therapist, and two PSU Master in International Management students – myself a former ICU nurse and Kim Morrison who works in the pharmaceutical industry. Kim provided a great deal of knowledge and expertise on the area of the organization of medical-related events and auctions. My main task was to organize a fashion show for entertainment for the evening – my fashion show debut!
So how does this event relate to business school? First of all, we were working closely on a team with an end-goal in sight. Just like in school, we met regularly – usually once a week, in person and by conference call (necessary, since one party was in London for a month and another out of town on business trips at various times) to discuss event planning. As the organizer of the fashion show I had to round up 12 volunteers to be my models – six of whom I had to convince to switch their work shifts to come to the event, then get all of them fitted into two custom Cocoon Silk cocktail dresses. So not only was I working within a planning committee team, I also had to manage my “team” of models. From my end, the event required constant communication not only with the planning committee team, but also with my 12 models, my donor contacts, and the volunteer DJ and lighting person.
What is a big component of pulling off an event on limited funds? You have to tap into your network (hey, here is that word – NETWORK). I was able to secure a donation of hair and make up through Aveda Institute Portland through my fellow MIMer’s sister who is a beauty student at the school – an approximate $650 value. One member of our planning committee (and a former coworker of mine) secured a donation of a free pair of heels for every model from Shoes.com (Brown Shoe Company/Famous Footwear) – an approximate $1,300 value. Kim provided the connection for my DJ, and Dr. Aubyn provided our lightening person. All 26 beautiful cocktail dresses were provided by Cocoon Silk, whom I did some work for a few months ago, so I was allowed to come and go and take dresses home with me as I pleased.
What else comes out of going out of your comfort zone to help with an event such as this? Exposure to something new and different. Although I have experience planning and organizing medical-related events, I have never worked on one involving an auction or a professional auctioneer – that component significantly increased the amount of planning involved, even for my fashion show entertainment piece. I finally found a way to mix fashion and medical – two things I love! Kim and I got to put our education to use and ask “the business questions” of the planning committee since the other four members did not possess a formal business background. We gained non-profit work experience. And we got to network, network, network! Not only did we tap into our own networks and strengthen those ties, but also we increased our network circle with a mix of very talented and diverse individuals, and MIMers got to meet my new PSU MBA in Healthcare Management friend!
One of the things I like to stress about participating in events outside of class is the “surprise” benefit that you might get from the event. Sometimes the benefit is not obvious. What was my surprise from this event? A table was sponsored by a company that the planning committee referred to as “Edwards Life.” I looked into the company – Edwards Lifesciences– and discovered that they are an international medical company and have a number of job openings available. Their jobs that I’m interested in combine my grad school education with my health care background…imagine that! Guess where my resume will be headed soon…
(Click on the photos for larger view.)