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On June 30 my term as president of the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club ended. I learned a lot in my presidential year and in the 1.5 years preceding it. The lessons I learned have direct benefit for businesses and non-profit organizations.

In our club, the president-elect is in charge of fundraising. I realized our fundraising needed a kick in the pants as the prior year we took in a record low amount of money with our primary event (a 5K run/walk). There were three things my team and I did to revitalize this event:

  1. I facilitated eight brainstorming sessions on how to improve the event in which two-thirds of the members participated.
  2. We used the information provided by our members to ¬†expand to a 10K (to attract more runners), move the location and get a cause to support. We became the Bellevue 10K & 5K, moved the event from Crossroads to the Downtown Park and added Children’s Hospital’s Autism Center (along with Kindering) as a beneficiary.
  3. We built and org chart around three components: sponsorships, in-club promotion and operations. This division of labor with people having the right skills for each (very different) job was a key to our success.

The results were fantastic. We doubled the participants, tripled the sponsorship dollars and tripled the net. Just as importantly, participants, sponsors and club members were all ecstatic about the event. This carried over to the next year as we grew our participation by another 10%.

One huge lesson in this is that the answers are often already present. It’s a matter of asking the question(s), listening to the suggestions (from employees, donors, customers, etc.) and, most importantly, implementing those ideas. After all, they’re no good just sitting on a list.

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