"It'll be fun!" is not a strategic reason to host an event. "I would want to go..." is not a strategic reason to have an event. "We always do it," is not a strategic reason to have an event. But when the reason is right, it is great to be on both the planning side and the participant side.
I see so many places get it right. I thought I'd highlight a few on the blog. Today: OKC Zoo.
John and I have been ZooFriends for a few years. We don't visit the Zoo that often, but I support it because my fond memories of Zoo make it special to me. I think we attend more special Zoo events than just regular-old-day-at-the-Zoo visits.
I love the Zoo events because
- They make sense for a Zoo, they aren't random
Events like the the Bowling for Rhinos, Party for the Planet, Round Up for Conservation Kick-Off and "Ape"ril Dinner all have a tie back to the conservation mission of the Zoo.
- They make me feel connected and engaged with the Zoo
Most of the events take place at the Zoo, which awesome because that's when we end up doing most of our visits. Many events allow you to participate in the Zoo's operations, like decorating for fall during haunt the Zoo, or submitting photos for the annual calendar.
- They make me feel appreciated as a donor
ZooFriends does a great job of letting the donors know about all their cool events. We get a quarterly magazine and monthly emails. I have dates saved for Zoo events months in advance. They also have member discounts on all event tickets, always a nice bonus. And, lots of the events give you exclusive access to things not everyone sees. The best is the "Apr"il dinner. You actually go behind the scenes of the Ape enclosure and see the areas where the zookeepers interact with the animals.