(Charity Concert: “Somebody Needs You”)…or what happens when your entire concert falls apart the night before.
For the past four months or so I have been working with a volunteer on a concert/comedy show as a fundraiser for the NGO I work with here, CASMED. As I’ve mentioned before, here, CASMED provides medical and social services to elderly people in need.
I will fast forward past the four months of meetings with sponsors, performers, Primaria (Mayor’s Office) folk and skip ahead to the day before the concert. The day before the concert, I spent the morning working with our accountant to prepare forms for all the youth who would be returning their pre-sale tickets.
Side Note: As part of the marketing strategy for this concert, I contacted 12 of the most reliable students I know in Balti and asked them to help sell tickets. I gave each 10, or more if they requested them and then asked them to sell as many as they could to their friends before the event. I figured that this would help get the word out about the event, ensure sales and make the day of sales run smoother.
The volunteer who I had been working with planning the concert texted me to let me know there was a problem with the University teams. Then she refused to answer my calls or texts, leaving me in a state of alarm. When she finally came into the office around 2p, she told me that of the promised four teams from the University, three had decided not to participate. As she was sitting there with me, our headlining group, Broadway, a ‘professional’ comedy team from Balti, called to say they would not be attending.
Earlier in the day, when I had first received the text about there being a problem with University groups, immediately texted a friend of mine, Igor, who happens to be part of a comedy team here and asked him when he was done with classes. I met him immediately after class and asked him if his team could perform the next day and if he could ask the other two Russian, high school comedy teams to perform as well. When I explained the dire situation he jumped into action and got together three teams, only short of the promised four.
But now, we not only were without groups to compete, but also without a host! Quickly we scrambled to find a host, calling people we know, brainstorming, until my co-worker Anna’ sister suggested a particularly funny friend of hers. He arrived at the office about an hour later and by then we had already recruited a female co-host.
The evening before the concert, we were at the office until almost 11p working on the script, securing other acts, (since now we knew that the acts we had previously believed secure, were likely less than so) and putting together another comedy group to host the show. My co-worker Anna’s sister got a team together to host and they spent all day Friday rehearsing.
The day of the concert was a blur, starting with meetings at the Primaria (Mayor’s office) to ensure the attendance of someone from the 3rd floor (important people) of the Primaria. To rushing around preparing last minute things, until 3p when I headed over to the venue to meet teams, speak to the Director of the venue, ensure sound checks, ticket takers and all the other necessary things.
From 3p until 6:30p (30 minutes after the concert started) was a blur of running around and work, but after about 7p, I got to sit down and enjoy (what I could understand of) the concert.
Looking back there were a lot of lessons learned – from other effective marketing techniques, to which youth are actually reliable, to day of staffing needs, to signing a contract with a larger or ‘professional’ group, to making sure to keep control and check in on all aspects of a volunteer or partner organized event. Overall the night was a success we raised a decent amount of money and promoted CASMED in the community – however I sure hope this was the first and last time I help plan and organize performances for a concert the night before.
Friday evening after the concert, I met my co-worker Anna out at a local club, to celebrate pulling off the event and as a farewell to my good friend Chanel, who will be ending her Peace Corps Service early and heading back to San Fransisco to take a job as an Account Representative with Yelp!