October 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio October 1999 Current Issue
October 1999 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By Mike Kabo


Planning an event for a charity is good for your self-image and your career

From time to time, meeting planners are asked if they would be willing to donate their time and expertise to help make a nonprofit event a success. How should you respond? Should you volunteer your skills? In a nutshell, doing charitable work is an excellent way to make new, very high-level contacts. It also gives you a unique opportunity to engage in quality networking while doing something personally rewarding.

Planners receive many benefits when they plan a fund-raising event for a favorite organization.

  • Bosses and prospective clients love seeing community work on a résumé.
  • Working with those business, industry and government leaders who serve on the boards and committees of volunteer organizations can lead to new projects and new jobs. And the higher the profile of the charity group, the more influential its board members are. Just take a look at the roster of any typical nonprofit organization, and notice the prominent individuals who are helping to run it. Each is a potential client or future employer.
  • Arranging a local fund-raiser gives planners the opportunity to meet and impress those who attend the event. If it is a gala evening or a golf tournament, the guest list should be full of the decision-makers and senior managers of the area's leading companies. This way, planners showcase their talents and skills to another set of potential employers and customers.
  • The event itself can generate free publicity for you and your company. Be sure your name and/or company name is prominently mentioned in all the literature. At the event, make yourself available, and circulate. Have your business card ready to pass out to potential clients and employers. Do not forget to follow up with these new contacts.
  • Do not underestimate the health benefits of doing a good deed. Beyond the great feeling a job well done affords, when you do that job for a group whose message you believe in, the satisfaction multiplies.
    One result of all this blood, sweat and tears is that you probably will be asked to work on future events for the organization. Say yes, because the additional exposure can only help. Another point to remember: Just because the first time was free does not mean that future efforts have to be.

    I can attest to the fact that doing charitable work can help a career or business. For a number of years, I was a volunteer for my local United Way organization. Some of the other members were senior executives from local corporations. When I later became a consultant, these contacts were worth their weight in gold.

    They were more than willing to put me in touch with the key travel and meetings decision-makers in their corporations. They also knew a number of high-level people in other companies and were happy and eager to pass my name along to them. Without these contacts, it would have been difficult to gain entrée to many of these organizations.

    Unfortunately, the one thing you do not get from volunteering is a deduction on your income tax for the donated time. However, your travel and other out-of-pocket expenses are deductible. Mileage, while traveling on behalf of the charitable organization, also can be deducted; the current rate is 14 cents per mile.

    As is customary for the Internal Revenue Service, the rules change often, so check with your tax adviser to be sure you are deducting all that is allowed.

    MIKE KABO is president of Solutions inc., a New York City-based consulting firm specializing in travel and meeting management.

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