The Inside Scoop: Tipping Point Community Fundraiser

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The Tipping Point Community is a non-profit organization working to fight poverty in San Francisco’s Bay area. Each year, the Tipping Point Community hosts an annual benefit to raise money to support local initiatives that help those in need. For the past two consecutive years, the Tipping Point Community has worked with Connect&GO to incorporate RFID technology into their fundraising gala. We caught up with Events Director Jim Hugo to find out more about the prep and planning for the event and how RFID has changed the experience both for the organizers and guests.

How long have you been working with the Tipping Point Community?
I have been with Tipping Point on the Events team for a little over a year and a half.

What led to you to this role?
I worked in commercial production in Los Angeles for ten years, and while the industry was fun and exciting, it was also gruelling and I could not get past the fact that all my hard work ultimately serviced consumer good companies selling products. I decided to course correct, returned to the Bay Area where I grew up and looked for a job where I could use my skill set to benefiting people in need. It was a tough transition, but ultimately I ended up where I needed to be.

What do you love most about what you do?
I love my coworkers and our non-profit grantees. There is something magical about being surrounded by colleagues and peers driven by noble passion. It forces you to step up your game in a sincere way.

On average, how many people attend the Tipping Point Annual Benefit event each year?
On average we have 1,200 – 1,300 guests.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - May 4 - Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo - Rachael Rothstein for Drew Altizer Photography)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 4 – Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo – Rachael Rothstein for Drew Altizer Photography)

How far in advance do you start planning for the event?
No joke, some planning starts the following week. We place a high premium on debriefing the event, capturing what was successful and where we had misses so that the following year we can continue to improve. Serious logistical planning starts around nine months out.

What challenges present themselves in terms of planning for this event (if any)?
With any event there will be the obvious, foreseeable obstacles that need tactical planning to overcome. Then there will be the unexpected fires that pop up and need immediate addressing. All event planners and vendors know to expect both. I think the biggest foreseeable challenge we face each year is how to make the event feel fresh and new. At the same time we are laser-focused on maximizing the impact of the stories we tell in that room to get or keep people involved in the fight against poverty.

What made you decide to incorporate RFID technology at the annual Tipping Point Benefit fundraiser?
One of the most moving portions of our annual Benefit is hearing from resilient individuals who have worked tirelessly to get on a path out of poverty. When a guest is moved by their stories and wants to contribute their hard-earned money, we want it to be the easiest, most seamless pledging experience possible. We do not want them to be taken out of the emotional moment, and the RFID system Connect&GO has supplied for the past two years provides a quick and accurate way of securing donations. Guest receive their wristband during registration, and if they are moved to donate, they simply need to raise their wristband for a volunteer to scan it. It could not be simpler.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - May 4 - Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo - Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 4 – Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo – Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography)

How does using RFID change the experience for you? For your guests?
RFID has given us a sleek means by which we can keep guests engaged in the stories about our work while offering them a streamlined way of pledging donations. We have received great feedback from guests that they appreciate the ease of use.

Since the wristbands are linked to our guest information, we can send out all of the pledge fulfillment emails the following morning through a merge instead of intensive staff follow-up saving us both time and money.

What are you most excited about for the Tipping Point Community and/or future events?
I am excited that more and more people are actively embracing the role they must play in combating poverty in our region. It’s motivating to come into work every day when I know that Tipping Point, our donors, and partners are all carving out space for everyone to belong in the community, as necessary equals.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - May 4 - Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo - Drew Altizer)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 4 – Atmosphere at Tipping Point Community 2017 benefit on May 4th 2017 at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, CA (Photo – Drew Altizer)

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