The DRG Group has hosted our fair share of donor events, and let's just say we've encountered a few near disasters in our years of event planning and learned a thing or two about what to have on hand in case of emergencies. In fact, we each have our own Emergency Event Kit that we carry with us on event day, and here are the top items each of our team members can't live without:
Lynne Wester, Principle and Founder of Donor Relations Guru
I know this sounds crazy, but I love to have $100 cash. You never know when a quick exchange of cash will be helpful that a purchasing card can't cover. Especially with service industry professionals, money talks when you need an extra bit of help!
I don't leave home without my minimergency kit from pinchprovisions.com. It has everything I need and is chock full of supplies when you need them the most.
Sharpies sharpies sharpies- need I say more?
Matthew Helmer, DRG Group member & Assistant Vice President of University Advancement at Colorado State University
Several years ago, we struggled with a number of senior leaders who neglected to RSVP and showed up to events anyway. While I’m not inclined to empathize with the indignation resulting from the absence of a name tag on such an occasion (or the short wait while we print one on site), one customer-centric solution was easy to implement: in every event kit we keep a preprinted stock of name tags for each member of senior leadership and our Board. This keeps our staff at the ready for such surprises and sets them up to be service heroes. It’s a minimal investment, and instead of surprise or embarrassment, it communicates that we’re glad they’re here! Pro Tip: You can implement this same solution for donors who exhibit a similar pattern of behavior.
Another simple tool I love having on hand is a clip-on reading light. It’s an easy solution if an event venue surprises you with a podium with no lights (or electricity), and it ensures you’re prepared to illuminate any situation for your speakers. There are several options out there, including rechargeable ones. They are lightweight, inexpensive and a real saving grace in a pinch!
Jan McGuire, DRG Group member
Wireless chargers that are CHARGED and ready to save you when a source of electricity isn’t handy. Think outdoor events or older venues that have very few electrical outlets..and the few that they have are never in the right spot!
All of your event must-have documents on a thumb drive. If you need to print extra copies of the run of show, script notes, expected VIPs, or anything for your leadership, you’re set! This also helps if you’re having issues with your event laptop or printer - you or someone from your team are prepared to visit a business center or venue office.
Sarah Sims, DRG Group member & Executive Director of Donor Relations at the University of Florida
For an outdoor event, always have a stash of towels on hand - you never know when it might suddenly downpour, a sprinkler may accidentally turn on, steps may be slick, or any number of unforeseen water challenges arise. (Because arriving at your event site at 7am and learning facilities ran the sprinklers overnight is never a good way to start the day.)
When hosting students who will be mixing and mingling with donors, dress codes are often stated, but not always abided by or fully understood by student participants. So always have a couple of spares on hand - a black sweater or blazer for women and a basic jacket or button up shirt for men.
Although it usually goes without saying, always have a hard copy of critical documents on-site in case technology fails - attendee lists, speaking points, run of show - anything that will make or break your success!
Angie Joens, DRG Group member & Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach at the University of California Davis
Tape - lots of it and various types - gaffers tape, scotch tape, double sided tape, shipping tape, velcro, and don't forget the duct tape. You never know what will be needed so good to have them all.
Electrical cords and devices such as power strips, extension cords, laptop and phone chargers. Also good to have flashlights and batteries for all equipment.
What are your must-have items in your emergency event kit? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!