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Black Tie Optional: A Complete Special Events Resource for Nonprofit Organizations


Praise for Black Tie Optional: A Complete Special Events Resource for Nonprofit Organizations, Second Edition

"I wish I had had this invaluable book when I was helping plan fundraisers in the past. My life would have been easier, and our bank account healthier. Don't torture yourself: get this book, follow its advice and be a hero!"
—Richard B. Stolley, Senior Editorial Adviser, Time, Inc. Founding Editor, People magazine

"Black Tie Optional is...

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Praise for Black Tie Optional: A Complete Special Events Resource for Nonprofit Organizations, Second Edition

"I wish I had had this invaluable book when I was helping plan fundraisers in the past. My life would have been easier, and our bank account healthier. Don't torture yourself: get this book, follow its advice and be a hero!"
—Richard B. Stolley, Senior Editorial Adviser, Time, Inc. Founding Editor, People magazine

"Black Tie Optional is anything but an optional read. This step-by-step guide on how to strategize and execute a successful fundraiser is essential to anyone considering how best to tackle the complicated world of event planning. Black Tie Optional is the archetypal roadmap for those undertaking the rewarding yet overwhelming journey of successful fundraising. An absolute must read!"
—Cathy Elkies, Senior Vice President and Charity Auctioneer, Christie's

"Harry Freedman knows how to plan an event. He has it down to an art. "
—World-renowned artist PETER MAX

Regardless of the kind of big event your organization has planned for its next fundraiser, everything you need to know and do is in this thorough and essential handbook. Now in a Second Edition, Black Tie Optional demystifies the process and makes it as easy as possible to have a successful event that generates money as well as new supporters. Authors and industry experts Harry Freedman and Karen Feldman cover all the angles and show you how to:

  • Decide on the best kind of event for your organization
  • Select the best location and date for your event
  • Develop budgets
  • Reach and book celebrities
  • Create invitations and get publicity
  • Set ticket prices
  • Organize and motivate your committees

This handy, how-to manual takes you step by step through the entire process of selecting and producing simple and complicated events and arms you with all the information you need, including practical advice, real-world examples from actual events, summary checklists, and worksheets. Black Tie Optional is destined to become your dog-eared blueprint for making money and allies in the name of your cause.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This short and practical book by a leading Florida fundraiser is a good introduction for any group contemplating its first charitable event. Using examples drawn from his own experience, Freedman outlines planning, coordination, and execution from date selection and ticket pricing to post-event evaluation. While smaller groups may feel overwhelmed by the extravaganzas described, the basic tactics given will work for small events as well as for an evening with a Hollywood star. At the same time, it would have been nice to have some examples of modest fundraising outside the Miami area. Sample contracts and letters of agreement with hotels, suppliers, and entertainers provide useful support to the text and will help committee chairs avoid the surprise costs that often turn an apparently successful event into a financial loss. This will be a valuable and often-consulted addition to public library collections.-- Mary Jane Ballou, Ford Fdn. Lib . , New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471703334
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/9/2007
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,157,809
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

HARRY A. FREEDMAN is President and CEO of Strategic Initiatives, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His company provides fundraising counsel for nonprofit organizations planning and implementing special events. A fundraising and marketing professional for more than two decades, Freedman is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, serving on the organization's International Conference Education Advisory Committee. He is also the coauthor of two previous books written with Karen Feldman on using business approaches to charitable fundraising. Freedman has been a featured expert in Forbes as well as on NBC's Dateline and on CNBC.

KAREN FELDMAN is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the United States and Canada. She earned a master's degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and worked full time for daily newspapers for more than 25 years.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors.



Chapter 1: Choosing the Right Event.


Sample Events.

Thinking It Through.

Time and Date.

Chapter 2: Money Matters.


Lights and Sound.

Food and Catering.

Feeding Workers.





Getting Graphic.


Care and Feeding of Committees.

Free Tickets.


Specialized Costs.

Special Event Planners.

Setting Ticket Prices.

Double Checking.

Chapter 3: Who’s In Charge?

Picking an Event Coordinator/Manager.

The Event Manager’s Job.

Getting Started.

Financial Control.

Chapter 4: Committees and Commitments.

The Recruiting Process.

Motivating the Troops.

Working Committees.

Volunteer Retention.

Regal Recognition.

Chapter 5: Other People’s Money.

Media First.

Getting Maximum Support.

Other Creative Sponsorships.

Tapping into Money.

Following Up.

Conflicts of Interest.

Chapter 6: On Location.

Researching the Right Site.

Site Considerations.

Setting Sites.

Chapter 7: Food, Glorious and Otherwise.

Critical Details.

Ideas for Meals, Food, and Settings.


All Dressed Up.

Look to the Experts.

Going It Alone.


At the Site.

If Disaster Strikes.

Liquor and Other Beverages.

Feeding Staff and Volunteers.



Chapter 8: Auctions and Other Profit Boosters.

Internet Auctions.

Up Close and Personal.


Chapter 9: Reaching for the Stars.

When Free Costs Money.

Lining Up a Celebrity.

Serious Stargazing.

Harnessing Star Power.

Royal Treatment.

Chapter 10: The Media and the Message.

Media Promotion.

Invitation Events.


Multipart Invitations.

Advance Notice.

A Fresh Look.

Ordering Invitations.

Time Frame.

Getting Them Out.

Following Up.


Minding the Media.

Public Service Announcements.

Talk, Talk.

Print Media.

Making News.

Promotion Time Frame.

Other Publicity.

Chapter 11: The Final Countdown.

Checking It Twice.

Last-Minute Needs.


Chapter 12: After Words.

Post-Event Evaluation.

Chapter 13: Tools of the Trade.


Celebrity Sources.

Speakers’ Bureaus.

Charity Watchdogs/Databases.

Credit Cards.

Donor Gifts.

Fundraising Consultants/Event Management.

Fundraising/Trade Organizations.

Online Resources.

Promotional Materials.



Travel Sources.

Web-Site Management.


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