There’s a strange paradox built into the concept of annual dinners. On the one hand, they’re a celebration of everything you’ve managed to accomplish with the help of your supporters. They honor your mission and the community that makes your success possible.
On the other hand, all the effort that goes into creating an enjoyable evening – all the touches that contribute to this expression of appreciation for your supporters – may have little connection to the important work you do. While the guest list is filled with people who are vital to your organization, these same people aren’t likely to be involved in its day-to-day realities. While you can make the event special by choosing a unique or entertaining location, you will also need to find a way to bring everyone’s attention back to the real reason you’ve all gathered together.
At KTA’s recent dinner, which took place at the National Museum of American Jewish History, we knew that our video would have the job of representing the students, buildings, and experiences that KTA really stood for. As a result, The guests would not only have a good time, but would also find that their commitment to KTA was reinforced through the experience.
We decided that the best approach was to have the students address the guests directly, thanking them and showing them what they had achieved – and what they would continue to achieve – with their support. This would immediately establish a feeling of relevance and connection.
In order to set the right tone, we recommended that this video be shown first thing at the dinner. This would catch everyone’s attention, create a positive feeling in the room, and get the audience invested in what the upcoming speakers had to say. It would frame the whole rest of the evening, no matter what it contained, in terms of KTA’s educational mission.
We began by polling the students and getting their unfiltered impressions of what makes KTA such a wonderful place to learn. Based on these responses, we put together a script that the girls would be able to deliver naturally and with genuine feeling.
Our decision to script the students’ lines rather than draw out sound bites through on-camera interviews was carefully considered. It was, as we saw it, our job to craft a message that would mediate effectively between the girls and the dinner guests. Turning the students’ perceptions into prepared lines allowed us to put their thoughts and reactions into the right context for the dinner and its goals — a personal, customized thank-you that would strengthen the school’s relationship with the attendees.
The script also helped us create something fast-moving, engaging, and polished without sacrificing authenticity.