Chapter Spotlight

AFP Chapter Spotlight: Berks Regional Chapter NPD Celebration

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Berks Chapter

The AFP Berks Regional Chapter was founded in 2005 and serves the area around Reading, Pennsylvania. As of December of 2023, it has 75 members who participate in their local networking and educational events.

We asked them to share with us the work that went into their 2023 NPD Breakfast and provide a roadmap for chapters who may be interested in replicating this success. Download the Chapter Spotlight: Share & Reapply Form to see key takeaways that you can use to improve your own chapter NPD event. 

Q: Who is responsible for planning and implementation of your NPD event?
A: Our NPD event is co-led by two active board members who oversee a seven-person committee, consisting of both board and community members. The committee is responsible for all aspects of the event from award nomination solicitation and selection, to sponsorship solicitation, to invitations and day-of logistics. The board president, vice-president, and chapter administrator also assist as needed and have key roles day-of. An ad-hoc award selection committee of community members is engaged to help review nominations for the selection of awards. We have found that for our chapter and community, this structure works well. Many of our colleagues within the fundraising sector are happy to lend a hand with last minute, day-of requests – whether they be videos to share at the events, photos of their constituents, or testimonials of impact from funds raised – all to tell the story of how philanthropy plays an important role in Berks County.

Q: What type of promotion do you do for your event? How has this changed post-COVID or as technology has changed? 
A: Prior to COVID, we continued to use the postal service for save-the-date cards, award nominations, sponsorship solicitations, invitations, and thank-you letters, and the use of technology during an event was limited to a slideshow of photos. In 2020, however, we had to pivot to a completely digital format, including our celebration, which was pre-recorded and distributed electronically that year. Since then, all communication, with the exception of sponsor solicitation, has been handled electronically. For us, the use of technology during the in-person event has become less arduous – more easily embraced. In 2022, we honored the “Anonymous” Donor and asked three local nonprofits to self-record their stories regarding an anonymous gift that had a large impact on their organization. Those stories were incorporated into the breakfast and were well received by the morning’s attendees.

Q: What recommendations do you have for chapters struggling to make their NPD events profitable? 
A: As a small chapter, we work diligently to ensure that our NPD event is profitable so that we can support future educational events and scholarship opportunities for our members. We do not have an exhibitor area, but our breakfast has an average of 25 sponsors each year with sponsorship levels ranging between $500 and $2,500. We average between 200-225 guests, with the majority of those coming from sponsors. The success of the sponsorship often has a direct correlation with their relationship to, or as, the award recipient. We noticed that companies who are being honored usually contribute at a higher level that year and return back to previous levels in subsequent years. Approximately 70% of sponsors return on an annual basis. We also have developed partnerships to encourage in-kind contributions from vendors such as the event center/hotel and the AV production company.

Q: Do you recognize award recipients at your event? 
A: During out annual NPD Breakfast, we may recognize the following awards:

  • Outstanding Philanthropist
  • Outstanding Community Group
  • Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser
  • Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy
  • Outstanding Small Corporation
  • Outstanding Large Corporation
  • Meggan Kerber Outstanding Fundraising Professional
  • Outstanding Foundation
  • Lifetime Achievement

AFP Berks Regional Chapter sends out a request to its membership, as well as the nonprofit community, asking for nominations via electronic form. All categories have board-approved descriptions and qualifiers for considerations, with special consideration to those nominations that meet the needs of, and represent, our diverse community. An ad-hoc committee of volunteers is selected each year to review the submitted forms and make recommendations to the board. Once recommendations are approved and winners notified, the awards are announced via social media and through a press release to the local news media. These awardees are honored at the event with a hand-made bowl and an opportunity to be presented the bowl on stage. Additionally, our nonprofit partners also have the opportunity to be “Friend Sponsors” at the event for $500 and honor a volunteer as a “Distinguished Honoree” who is awarded a plaque. All awardees receive on-screen recognition at the event and in the program book.

Q: How do you involve the local community in your event to promote a culture of philanthropy? 
A: Over the past few years, we have tried to make our NPD events more interactive by providing activities that encouraged guests to become more engaged in their community. For example:

  • In 2022, we honored the “Anonymous Donor” during our annual NPD breakfast. We invited three area NPOs to speak to how anonymous giving impacted their organizations – one of the gifts being the largest anonymous gifts in Berks County. And we invited attendees to then pay it forward by sharing ‘Acts of Kindness’ cards. We also awarded the Youth in Philanthropy Award to Maddie Campbell, whose family owns Baldwin Brass in West Reading, PA. Maddie had designed a peace ornament, manufactured by her family’s company, of which 100% of the proceeds went to Safe Berks, a domestic violence and sexual assault support organization. At the end of the event, Maddie sold out of all of her ornaments and had created a waiting list.
  • In 2023, we honored another Youth in Philanthropy recipient, six-year-old Colton Brady for his ‘Raisin’ Kindness’ initiative. The Berks County Community Foundation contributed $1,000 at the NPD breakfast to his kindness campaign.

Q: What advice do you have for new NPD chairs? Was there anything that you learned while planning your event that other chapters could benefit from? 

  • Build a strong team. As a chair, surround yourself with a dedicated and diverse team. Assign responsibilities based on each team member’s strengths and encourage collaboration. We were very fortunate the previous co-chairs had a well thought out timeline which made the transition seamless.  
  • Collect a list of nominations throughout the year instead of waiting until half of the year is over.  
  • Have an engaging emcee.
  • Include flyers about Be the Cause on the tables to generate donations. 
     
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