Emcees play a crucial role in the flow and vibe of your event. After all, their nickname, MC, stands for Master of Ceremonies – and that they are. Ensuring that your emcee is fully prepared, has practiced a run of show, is comfortable speaking without a script in hand, and knows the schedule for the evening will allow your planning committee or event staff to relax, knowing that the fundraiser is in good hands!
1. Optimizing your emcee starts before you’ve even chosen one. Think outside of the box when interviewing potential emcees for your next fundraiser (yep, we said interview). Emcees act as a representative of your organization throughout the evening – they are the spokesperson relaying your organization’s mission to the crowd. They are a source of information, heartwarming stories, and hilarious jokes that all work together to keep your guests engaged, entertained, and ultimately, donating to your cause. While radio and television personalities with that local celebrity flair can seem like an easy choice, it’s essential that you hire someone who has a big personality and is able to speak from memory about your organization’s work and what the event aims to support. They should be charismatic and funny, coming to your fundraiser ready to have a good time. It’s also important that they truly feel the mission of your organization and can relay it accurately and emotionally to your guests.
2. Practice, practice, practice! Provide your emcee with a script and event timeline at least one week prior to the event so they can get familiar with how the event will flow. They should be rehearsing their script enough to where they do not need to have it onstage with them at the event. Your emcee should also be very comfortable with how the schedule of the evening will flow, as they will act as a director for guests, instructing them on what is happening next or which sponsorship activities, silent auctions, etc. to check out.
3. Professionalism is just as important as personality. Opening with a joke may appeal to some donors, but not others, and can depend on the formality of the event itself. Make sure that your emcee fits the feel of the event, or will be able to adapt their tone to your specific event. Because fundraisers can be emotional, depending on the cause or mission of the organization, it’s crucial that the emcee is aware of any touchy subjects or sensitive topics. It makes the event more engaging when they involve the audience in their script, rather than just speaking at guests. Again, this goes back to ensuring that they understand the mission of the organization so they have a holistic idea of their role at the event.
4. Remember KISS? Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Your audience will only have the attention span of a great song on the radio. We encourage you to turn your talking points into the flow of a song. High points, low points, down to the nitty gritty honesty, elation of the outcome. Remember to engage donors with the outcome of years’ past donation. What did they help obtain? Where did the funds go? What was built? What was introduced? How will this years funds’ raised deeply impact your organization? Let your video bring home that powerful emotion!
5. Janet Jackson said it best; ‘Control’. (Remember that album cover hair-do!) If too many activities are happening and donors are spread thin, and/or alcohol is flowing for a good time that turns donors into chatty, busy bees – get control! Whether you are HOSTING a fundraising event or THROWING a party, or combining both…be gracious hosts to navigate the waters of donors throwing money at various things needs control before the 90-minute mark of your event. After 90-minutes, your program should conclude and fun can be had by all! Cheers.