Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ideas That Work

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Keeping "Pace" with Fundraising

Recently each board of governors received information from Joe Blanc, a volunteer from Cincinnati who is organizing a 2010 tour of Tony Pace, a Las Vegas entertainer who has wowed audiences from New Hampshire to Ohio.

Tony began his relationship with the Learning Centers three years ago when he performed in benefits for the New Hampshire Centers. The events were sold out affairs. Bill McNaughton, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, attended the 2008 concert and felt the event was tremendously entertaining. That year Joe Blanc heard about Tony and was inspired to attempt bringing a larger "tour" together in 2009.

Those events, which occured in September, were largely successful. Akron/Canton, Cincinnati and Danville all had successful events. This is not without some risk, but I would say that for some communities this concert would be something worth considering. If you have a Valley that is active and tends to like coming out for an entertainment, if you can get the economical use of a performance space that will accommodate about 500 and if you have a body of people ready to promote (sell) tickets (remember, tickets don't sell themselves), this might be a good event for you.

One thing that recommends the tour to me is the involvement of Joe Blanc. He has been a tireless volunteer fundraiser for the Cincinnati LC as the hole LC program. He is passionate about the program and very reliable. I'll post a memo he sent to LC's to reinforce the points I've outlined at the end of this post.

The deadline for joining the tour is here, so if you are interested at all, contact Joe with questions at 513 677-2115 or 513 290-0483.
From Joe Blanc:

1) Why is it being called a Children’s Charity Tour and not a Learning Center Tour?

Fair question and the reasoning is that as we build tours with the synergy from multiple sites and this possibly lead to the point where we can get national sponsorships to assist in underwriting the cost of the tours. Calling it the “Children’s Charity Tour” also allows other Valleys and other Masonic Organizations (not in competition with Learning Centers) to join in. The long term goal is growth to maximize each of our profits. One example is that Wilmington DE. currently does not have a LC and yet they want to raise money for other children’s charities they have. So why not open it to others, it only helps each of us long term.

2) Who is Joe Blanc and what is your involvement?

I love this question and yes it is a fair question. I am Scottish Rite Mason with a passion for this cause, I am dyslexic and grew up being called "crazy lazy and stupid." I make no money from this, I just have a passion for it. I am not a concert promoter nor an event planner by profession. I do not take offense for questioning who I am, you should question my motives. So my motive is passion for the cause.


VERY Important question, and at the same time difficult to answer. I tell each LC or site to budget $15,000 which is worst case scenario I believe. Also in the costs are many items which can be donations in kind as well. For instance at Akron/Canton, all hotel rooms were free for two nights and Akron/Canton arranged to have a wonderful meal provided for Tony and Chris at Canton’s best restaurant. The Cincinnati out of pocket costs was about $11,000. This included performer costs, printing, mailing… Our three highest cost were sound (our choice to use professional sound people), our wine and cheese meet and greet post concert (works great) and of course the performer. Our in kind donations were close to $8000. We started planning in January and by March we were at a profit and still 6 months until the concert.

4) Can we contact, Danville, Akron, Canton and Fort Wayne to get their input?

Sure you can, and they all have agreed to be ambassadors to assist where they can in answering your questions.
Akron – Jim Ohlinger @ 330.833.9930. H 330.327.7096 C
Canton- Bob Parker @ 330.305.1361
Danville IL. - Allison C. Enslein, Director @ 217.446.9377 (I request you please respect her time as she is the Director)

Fort Wayne did not use it as a LC fundraise in 08. They used Tony as their fall kick off. They will expand that next year into a combo event from what I understand
Fort Wayne- Sheila Hubart 260.423.2593 ext 29

Nashua was not part of the tour but started it all with Tony and Roger agreed to be an ambassador for us as well
Nashua NH. – Roger Pellerin -603.883.7141(day) 603.883.2743 (eve)

5) What if we do not have a facility to hold this event?

Akron/Canton and Danville did not have one. Each of your cities probably have schools or other venues for a reasonable price and many have all of the sound systems and lighting you need for this event. Akron/Canton was actually cheaper then Cincinnati due to the fact that their venue had all of the needed items that Cincy had to rent. Remember if this is your first year please do not get a 2000 seat venue. Focus on filling 500 seats and WATCH IT GROW NEXT YEAR. There are many options out there for venues.

6) Why September?

September offers some advantages and disadvantages. In Cincinnati we combined the Scottish Rite Fall Kick Off (pre concert event) with the concert. During September many vacations are over, weather is still good and it comes before we get into the fall reunions. The biggest hurdles are, your boards will be active during the summer and of course many Lodges are dark. We believe we can overcome any hurdle September offers for it’s advantages. You can over come those hurdles by planning working the system January thru May.

7) Is it difficult to plan this event?

Very tough question to answer. I will say yes and no! We can make it easier. We have letters, planning outlines and artwork to assist. Tony is also putting together a promo package to assist us in our planning efforts. I have been to a number of board meetings in other cities and here is the advice I give each of them. “Stick with it,,,, you will pull your hair out one week before the concert wondering if it was worth it and the day after the concert you will call me wanting your next year date !” Here is the good part --- year two gets MUCH easier and the profits GROW! Which is why I now have the time to reach out and assist you through your worries, your joys and your ultimate success.

8) Why the December deadline?

First it is to respect Tony’s schedule so that he can work with his Las Vegas Venue. The second reason is so that we can start lining up tour stops. For instance doing Akron/Canton on a Friday or Saturday during High School Football would be nuts to do. They like their Tuesday night. We may be able to do back to back nights depending on travel. An example of that could be Fort Wayne to Indy to Danville. Here is what I request for the December deadline a commitment that you are about 80% sure you are going to do. Our target is to have a conference call with Tony and all sites in early December.


Joe Blanc said...

Please give us a call with any questions on this great potential fund raiser. We will walk you through any and all questions. We still have openings for the tour this year.

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