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Charity Events

How to throw successful fundraising events with professional event planner Ally R. Potel.

April 18, 2023

You can find tips and tricks and top fundraising idea articles easily enough. On Zeffy’s blog alone we have over 10 other articles that try and help nonprofits make it through their fundraising events. (You can find links to all of the articles at the end of this article.)

But, articles with real advice from an actual event planner are a little harder to find. In our quest to bring nonprofits the best possible insights, information and resources we can, we reached out to Ally R. Potel, event coach and founder of Flyberry Events. Ally knows what’s what when it comes to event planning and actually making the event happen—AKA she knows more than us.

We’ll let Ally do most of the talking in this interview. All we’ll say is: if you’re planning a fundraising event any time soon, this interview is worth a read and Flyberry Events has some insightful tips to help make your next fundraising event a lot less stressful/terrifying/impossible. And, as a friendly reminder, Zeffy can help you sell and manage tickets to your nonprofit event. (And we're 100% free.)

An interview with Ally R. Potel, event coach and founder of Flyberry Events.

Zeffy: I find it’s almost always better to let the interviewee introduce themselves, so could you please introduce yourself and Flyberry Events.

Ally R. Potel: My name is Ally R. Potel, event coach and founder of Flyberry Events. What started out as a passion project, launched during the pandemic in 2020, has truly become my career’s calling! Over the years, as an event professional, I have worked in different fields ranging from fashion to beauty, to management and marketing, between Paris, New York and Vancouver, so it was only natural that I put all of my gained knowledge and experience together to help other professionals and creatives put their name on the map!

Flyberry Events is a Vancouver-based event-planning agency that specializes in the design and production of bespoke events for small businesses, established luxury brands, corporate companies, associations and nonprofit organizations in a variety of industries in British Columbia.

"But, honestly, audio/visual (A/V) is the most common issue we can have at an event. You need to make sure you trust your or the venue’s A/V team."
- Ally R. Potel

Zeffy: We’re all a bit tired of the COVID questions, but… How did COVID effect the event planning industry? How has Flyberry Events adapted?

Ally: Event teams and budgets have become smaller since 2020. To help we began offering virtual coaching, consulting and workshops to give you advice and tools on how to plan a successful event (wedding, fashion show, fundraising gala…) on your own anywhere in the world. This has turned out to be a great way to share what I love and a big part of what makes Flyberry, Flyberry.

Zeffy: Who are your normal clientele?

Ally: With a passion for fashion, art and design, I founded Flyberry Events primarily to help young fashion entrepreneurs and artists be seen and to give them the opportunity to launch their brand.

As the agency grew, I realized that Flyberry Events could support more clients. Between the coaching sessions, consulting service and event management, we are now reaching a wide range of clients from entrepreneurs and nonprofits to luxury fashion brands.

Zeffy: What makes Flyberry different from other event planning companies?

Ally: Flyberry is a boutique event agency that focuses on creating a memorable experience for your guests while delivering and bringing awareness to your message.

What makes Flyberry different is that we work and focus on understanding your goal(s) and concept to create the most successful event so you have the best return on investment, save time and money. This is what Flyberry is about!

We’re also all about giving back to our community and have committed to giving 10% of our profits to nonprofit organizations.

Zeffy: What’s your favourite part about planning an event?

Ally: Make our clients' visions come to life. The events that we produce are a little moment in time but that moment creates brand lift, builds relationships, educates, entertains and delivers a lot of joy for clients and guests.

Zeffy: What’s your least favourite part?

Ally: When the event ends. Planning an event is challenging, exciting, stressful… but once the event ends, the excitement goes with it until the next event. Even if there is still a lot of things to take care of post-event, it is not the same as prior to the event or on the day of.

Zeffy: What’s a common surprise or unexpected event that happens at every event despite how hard you try to plan EVERYTHING?

Ally: This is a tough question, I usually compare events to making a movie, you need to find the right team, coordinate with all the departments, stay on budget, brief your main “actors”... But, unlike a movie, when guests arrive, you only have one take so a lot of things can go wrong. Event planners always plan for the unexpected, and the good ones usually come prepared with 2 back up plans.

But, honestly, audio/visual (A/V) is the most common issue we can have at an event. You need to make sure you trust your or the venue’s A/V team.

Zeffy: This might be an unfair or tricky question… But, what was your favourite event? (That you planned.)

Ally: I like this question because there are a lot of them that I could talk about as I’ve planned 180 events for 20 brands/companies in 3 different countries—so my favourite event changes every year.

Zeffy: Please go on…

Ally: But, if I had to choose only one, I would say that my favourite event was the pop-up art gallery opening and cocktail reception of 35 attendees I created for a young artist called Emilia Pelkowski. She was my first client, the first one to believe in my brand and in my expertise.

Zeffy: Would you tackle an event for a nonprofit or charity any differently than an event for a luxury brand or an artist?

Ally: Yes, I would because every event is different. Event planning is about “knowing your why”, the “why” changes depending on your client. A fundraising gala will have a different goal from a concert or a luxury store opening.

Zeffy: What’s a reality of event planning that most clients just don’t think about when they come to you for help?

The budget and the amount of work.

Zeffy: Wow, you did not hesitate there…

Ally: I have never had a client who overestimated how much an event would cost. (Not yet anyways!) But, I usually have clients who underestimate the time and resources needed as well as how hard it can be to plan an event and to plan it right.

Zeffy: What are the 5-10 things you do to make sure your events are a success?

Ally: These things are what I teach during my workshops and what we go over with clients during our consulting sessions:

  1. Goals and concepts: know your why.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Promote your event to your audience: clearly state event details on your channels.
  4. Create opportunities for connections/networking.
  5. Remember that content is king or queen.
  6. Drive engagement before, during, and after your events.
  7. Design for the audience that you want, not for yourself.
  8. Get the right speakers and get to know them.
  9. Get the right sponsors and leverage opportunities with them.
  10. Always build a buffer into your event budget of at least 10% for unexpected expenses.

Zeffy: If you had one piece of advice for someone planning an event, what would it be?

Ally: If you are a planner, create a checklist, concentrate on what is important and breathe!

If you are not a planner and tackle an event with over 100 guests, get one or get an event coach!

Zeffy: It’s amazing how we can just forget to breathe. Okay, last question: What THE THING you wish your clients kept in mind when it comes to their events?

Ally: To trust the process.

Zeffy: Simple. To the point. I like it. Okay, I lied, this is the last question: What’s THE question I should have asked, but didn’t because I don’t know how to plan an event?

Ally: Oh this one is easy: Do you know the area or are you well connected with vendors who can help you create your vision?

Too often, I have seen event planners put events together in areas they have never seen or with vendors they have never worked with without doing their due diligence. Event planners need to make sure that these vendors are good to work with. They also need to do a site visit of the venue and/or do research on the area beforehand.

Well ladies and gentlemen, Ally R Potel. Event planner, coach and just all around lovely human being. We hope you learnt as much as we did. And, if you’re interested in upping your event planning game, reach out to Ally at Flyberry Events. You won’t be disappointed.

Zeffy: Would you like us to include a website and/or socials in the article? (If yes, please include the links, handles, etc.)

Ally: Sure!

Flyberry's website. Instagram. Tik Tok.

Zeffy: Do you mind if we use some of our chat in an article for our blog?

Ally: No problem :)

Zeffy: Is there anything you’d like to add? A sales pitch for Flyberry?

Ally: Flyberry Events is launching its new service of wedding consulting in May 2023 . This is a service for brides and grooms who want to organize their wedding on their own, but who would still like some good advice from a professional. We will help establish a schedule, an action plan and make you aware of the little details one can forget.

The idea of wedding coaching is to expose your ideas, your desires, the vision you have of your wedding, but also your concerns and your fears so that together, we can establish all the elements to put in place, everything you will need to plan the wedding of your dreams.

Zeffy: Will your coaching and planning workshops be similar? If a nonprofit needed help making a schedule, an action plan and learning all the little details they might forget, is that something you’re happy to help with?

My coaching and workshops are for everyone you want to plan events anywhere in the world. I will be very glad to help nonprofits with their events and help their teams overcome any challenges they might face.

Keep reading about event planning and how Zeffy can help:

How to organize a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization.

Ready, Set, Organize Your Next 5K Walk/Run for Charity in 10 Steps.

How to Host a Charity Event in 9 Steps.

How to Host a Charity Golf Tournament?

How You Can Ensure Accessibility for All Guests at Your Fundraising Events.

Top 3 No-cost Ways to Promote Nonprofit Fundraising Events.

8 Ways to Make Your Next Fundraising Event Kid-tested, Parent-approved!

8 Steps to Prepare for Any Charity Gala Event.

How to Avoid Last-Minute Fundraising Event Sign Ups for Good.