Special events – all you need to know |An interview with Toni Brown – Part Two

Knowing that special events can be the life-blood for a nonprofit, we asked a few questions of Toni Brown, principal and CEO of The Brown Wynn Agency, a firm with a long history of producing first class special events. We asked her a series of questions, and we share her responses with you.

(L-R) Brown Wynn Agency co-founder Tina Wynn, Actor and NABOB Entertainer Of The Award honoree Dennis Haysbert, and Brown Wynn Agency co-founder Toni Brown . (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)

Saad& Shaw: What do you like most about the business that you are in?

Toni Brown: One of the reasons I enjoy my work as a Special Events Producer, is because every assignment is different. This allows me to strategically plan, be creative, and contribute ideas that help clients achieve their marketing, public relations, and fundraising goals.

Saad& Shaw: What are the things that make an event special?

  Toni Brown: Here’s the top three:

  1. Hosting an event in a unique, unusual, or unexpected venue piques interest
  2. Creating a theme and adding impressive décor ups the “wow” factor for guests
  3. A great menu, music, and entertainment are always expected!

Saad& Shaw: What should people consider before hiring a special events manager?

Toni Brown: Working with a special events manager or team is a partnership. Prior to bringing a person onboard, it is imperative to determine if everyone is open to collaborating on the project. It can be very difficult for people to share or relinquish control of an event that they have managed in the past.

Saad& Shaw: As a special events manager, what are your expectations of your clients?

Toni Brown: On the client side, my expectation is that everyone on their team understands the mission, purpose, and goal of the event. I also expect that they have established a sufficient budget to support the proposed event, and that we all agree on a list of realistic expectations and outcomes. Additionally, they should  be open to making changes and discussing new ideas.

Saad& Shaw: What do suggest as the “lead time” or planning time for a special event?

Toni Brown: My preference is to have eight to 12 months planning time. Clients sometimes underestimate the amount of lead time needed to create a comprehensive action plan for a successful outcome.

Saad& Shaw: What are the compensation standards when it comes to hiring a special events manager? For example, are you paid a percentage of funds raised? A flat fee?

Toni Brown: The Brown Wynn Agency charges a flat fee based on the full scope of work, length of the assignment and staffing needs.

Saad& Shaw: How do you set goals for attendance, anticipated revenue, anticipated costs, and event programming?

Toni Brown: We work closely with clients to determine attendance, revenue, and programing goals. Our initial discussions and consultations with organizations are normally about budget, and the financial resources they designate to produce a new or established event. The estimated cost analysis and approved budget are key in determining the event programming, attendance capacity, and revenue projections.

Saad& Shaw: For readers who are interested in pursuing special events management as a career, what are your words of wisdom and advice?

Toni Brown: My best advice to anyone considering a career in special events management, is to invest time in volunteering for various types of events such as galas, fundraisers, fashion shows, parades, conferences  in their city. Volunteering is a hands-on opportunity to experience the major components of the job: planning, setup, management, execution, and breakdown. This is an effective way to determine if special events is a feasible career path. You can always reach Toni Brown by phone (201) 886-8770 or by email at info@brownwynn.com.

Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2022! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.

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