Collier County Veterans Council "Honoring All Who Served"
Collier County Veterans Council"Honoring All Who Served"

Instructions for Hosting a Special Event

          "Special Events" covers, among other things, the topics of Fund-Raisers, Holiday Celebrations, Veteran Celebrations, and Promotional Parties.  Hosts and organizers of Special Events are encouraged to use the recommendations made here to improve their event.  Copying and pasting all the issues raised here is suggested.  Share all the tasks listed in this article amongst your team as a punch list.  Each person can choose which task they will pursue during the planning and development phase. 


          Catering, Destination Management, and Event Production are trades run year 'round by professionals with years of experience.  A common mistake is to assume, as an organizer, that you can wing it and everything will work out fine.  Rather than ignore the valuable lessons learned after years of repetition, embrace the methods and tools of successful professionals.  Thrive on the planning phase.  Early planning is your best friend.  Planning/Organizing will become more effortless and meaningful as each day passes.  


     Hosting a special event is a major undertaking.  It's success lies in the planning. Don't kid yourself that everything will work out just fine, God will provide, or that you will fix things on-the-fly after guests arrive.  In my experience, which is extensive, nothing works out just fine, God never answers your prayers, and fixing things on the day of the event means your boat is sunk.  Performing a special event, be it a fund raiser, public ceremony, or a harmless cocktail party, all require thoughtful consideration and preparation.  If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.  


     The following list of questions and tips includes essential components of a moderately successful special event.  Feel free to copy and paste it onto paper to hand out to your committee chairman or volunteer staff.  Use it to build a turnover book that spoonfeeds everyone's jobs to them.  Turnover books provided specific instructions for how business will be done at that particular position.  Think of it like a playbook for your team. It ensures a smooth transition of power from one leader to the next.  Take the list of questions and issues listed here as a starting point.  Build on it by adding every little detail that arises.  


Those who ignore history are doomed to re-live it.  


     Have a clearly defined mission.  Answer "What are we doing here?", before someone asks you directly, "What are you doing here?"  You need to have that figured out to such an extent that whoever asks that question of you will instantly become a believer in your cause.  You must encapsulate your mission in clear, compelling, inspiring, and understandable terms. Don't be sheepish when someone wants an explanation.  Be ready to shout it from the mountain top, "We support military snipers so they can save our troops out on the battlefield!", "We celebrate veterans from the greatest generation with free trips to D.C. monuments!", or "We prevent suicide by providing therapeutic social outings for wounded veterans!".  


     Explain your Application of Mission.  How do you plan to accomplish your mission statement?  Will you directly try to solve some social dilemma or will you provide financial support for your beneficiaries to sort it out on their own.  Develop a thorough understanding of the problem you are trying to fix in order to have the greatest impact.  Poke holes in your boat (project) so many times that it may very well sink.  If you poke dozens of holes in your project and it still won't sink, you may have an excellent cause on your hands that demands everyone's attention.  


     Cars run on gasoline, for the most part.  Marines run on caffeine, nicotine, and rage.  Special events run on cash money.  You need substantial initial funding to get events off the ground.  Start raising the money you moment you have a well polished mission statement.  Approach sponsors, benefactors, patrons, and donors the instant you have your ducks in a row.  You will need the money for advertising, room rentals, catering, invitations, promotions, decorations, and support staff.  Lots of people need to get paid before you open the doors to your event.  Prepare a real budget with real numbers of real vendors on a real timeline.  Bluffing your budgets is an amateur mistake that will instantly scuttle the ship.  


     Donations from sponsors that are "in kind" are helpful.  Make sure they are put to good use.  They can come in the form of cases of food, beverages, printed materials, or other tangible goods.  While you may have preferred cash to spend making your event fantastic, never reject the generosity of a sponsor. Be gracious and grateful for all you recieve.  You must diplomatically explain to contacts that the more funds you receive from sponsors, donors, and supporters, the more support you can provide to your beneficiaries.  If you don't know how to socialize with sponsors in a gracious and diplomatic fashion then, we have a whole new set of issues to solve.  Someone must be the designated solicitor of donations.  Don't assume someone will just emerge from your team on the day of the event.  They have to catalog every single contribution.  Just recognize that "in-kind" donations are helpful, useful, and the equivalent of cash.  


How will you collect funds?  Will you use your own website or online crowdfunding sites?   Will it be in-person, through an estate planner, by phone campaign, or door-to-door?  Who is supervising it?  Who is supervising the supervisor?

Who is your brand strategist that helps you refine your mission, purpose, image, and message delivery?  How good is your elevator pitch?  It needs to be so strong that you are irresistable on the first try.

Who is your keynote speaker?  Will they draw a crowd?  Are they aligned with your mission?  Will their presence produce more donations or less of them?  Who is your Master Of Ceremonies?  They will be addressing the crowd by microphone.  Rehearse with them to make sure they are good at their job.  

Do you have a gimmick to promote your event and spur ticket sales?  

Do you have a special attraction at your event that sweetens the pot for guests? People expect to have entertainment value when they agree to spend their time and money at your event.  What form of entertainment or amusement will you provide to heighten the social value of the evening?

What is your theme? What is your color combination? Does it tie into your mission or branding?

Who are your partnering agencies in all this?  How much of the load are they carrying?  Write up a timeline of which outside groups are doing what on your behalf, when are they doing it, and who is you point of contact.  

Will you need security guards for any reason?

What accomodations have you made for wheel chairs, blind folks, or medical emergencies?

What is your rain plan?  You need to have somewhere to hold your event if the weather turns bad.  How will guests get to their cars if it is raining?

Are you using a valet service to park cars?  How many parking spaces do you need in consideration of the total amount of guests that will be coming?

Who is your committee chariman?  Can they bring in the right crowd or will they discourage contributors?  

What staging area is prepared for service staff to work out of sight of the guests?  

Is a strong wireless network provided?  People expect it.

Will there be musical performers or a DJ?  When will they finish their sound check?  When can they begin their setup process? Will they need cables for lighting and sound equipment?  

Do you have a crowd control officer?  The County requires someone to be in charge when 50 people or more are gathered.

Is a Sheriff's deputy from your district required to be present at your event? 

Is your communications staffer prepared to write a press release, magazine article, blog post, newspaper article, and social network updates?

Will you be presenting any noteworthy guests with awards or certificates?  Who will be alienated or jealous?

What does your insurance policy cover in regards to this event?

How much lead time do all your vendors need?  Make a list.

Who is your photographer, videographer, reporter from TV station or magazine, YouTube channel, or radio show?  Your publicity must be created.  

Who is writing "Thank You" notes?  Who is receiving them?  Make them ahead of time so there is no delay after the event is finished.

What is the dress code?  Does it fit the tone of the occasion?  What is your rule when people break the dress code? If you don't turn them away then, you never had a dress code to start with.  

Do you want to hold a auction or silent auction to cover your event expenses? Any money you raise after that goes back to fund the charity throughout the year and to support your beneficiaries.  

Will there be a video presentation or a powerpoint show?  Is there a computer and a projector?

Does your event conflict with any other major parties around town?

Do you plan to use greeters or staff a name tag and registration table?  Is there a coat check room?  

Do you want to have a cash bar, drink tickets, open bar, dinner wine, butler passed Pellegrino?  Who is in charge of the cash box while selling tickets? What is the chain of custody and secure storage for the cash box?

Will you need a cash register in order to sell things, hold money, and make change?  How big is its starting bank?

Will there be a kids' table, kids' menu, kids' entertainment, or kids' giveaways?

Do you have a permit for your musical entertainment?  When does it expire?  Who is in charge of getting it?  How early must you apply for it?  To whom must you apply for it?  Should you notify the neighbors as a courtesy that you are holding a noisey event?

Make a phone list up front of all your committee or staff members.  Share it with all team members to spead up communication.  Make a phone list of your vendors and collaborators.  Make an email list for contacting groups of people in one shot.  Avoid revealing people's email addresses by addressing messages to your group in the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) section.  Make a texting group on your phone to quickly message dozens of people at the same time. 

Use contracts whenever possible, even though you deem it unworthy.  Have simple contracts for a couple topics saved in a computer to make spitting them out easier.  Use indemnity waivers where you believe there's a chance someone could get hurt, sick, or injured.  

Ask vendors if they have their own SLA (Service Level Agreement) that defines what they will accomplish and what is excluded.  It may also be called an invoice, contract, or letter of agreement.  It protects both sides from mistreatment. Ask them early in the relationship if all the details you've discussed will be covered in the contract or invoice.  Ask them if they have some document that you could both sign up front that details what you want from them and how much they will be charging.  If they can't be bothered to make one, just write your own, based on discussions you've had up to that point.  If they won't sign it, offer to use their existing service contracts with a letter attached that explains in further detail what is required in this instance.

Is your 501(c)(3) status really in effect or not?  Did you get a lawyer to clarify that?  Prepare an invoice or receipt for donor's tax purposes which verifies their deductible amount and your group's identification number.  Read "Nonprofit for Dummies".

Join online forums or bulletin boards about nonprofits, charities, fund-raisers, or volunteer organizers.  They may have great advice.  They also serve as sounding boards for questions you need answered.  


Where to Find Us:

The Veterans Council of Collier County is the umbrella organization of the 20 veterans groups that exist in Collier County, Florida.

The Veterans Council is comprised of representatives from each group and meets the 3rd Thursday of each month.


We bring all groups together for networking and fellowship in an otherwise fragmented community.  We each have our allegiances, but are fighting the same battle.  United we stand.

Meetings are open to all veterans.


CCVC Board of Directors


Chief William Carl, USCG




Alexander Leoni, USMC

(Vice President)


Chief Darnell Johnson



Stanley Bunner,USN

(Safety Officer)


Larry Lathrop, USMC



Frank Kerr, USA

 (Sergeant at Arms)


Jason Lindsey, USMC

(Operations Officer)


Vidal Sanchez, USMC

(Operations Assistant)


Stormie Pruskauer


Joan Mary Madonna

(Assisstant Secretary)





The Veterans Council enjoys the generous financial support of its contributors.  If your organization would like support the Veterans Council and its four public patriotic ceremonies, please mail your annual $50 donation to: 

Collier County Veterans Council

527 107th Ave N

Naples, FL 34108



 If you would like to publicly introduce yourself to the Board of Directors and their gallery of patriots, please contact us to have your name placed on the upcoming meeting agenda.  



Veteran Suicide Prevention

If you, or a veteran you know, may be thinking of contemplating suicide please call The Veterans Crisis Hotline at:

1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

or go to their website at:


Helpful Suicide education is also provided here.


"In all you do, do with all your might. Things done by half measures are never done right."


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