How to Co-Chair a Successful Fundraiser by Using Coprenuerial Principles

by Pamela on October 30, 2012

The Basics Of A Successful Copreneurial Relationship Work For All Kinds Of Partnerships!

Where have I been?

I haven’t been blogging, that’s for sure! I was working on another volunteer project. It was nothing on the scale of Coaches United for Success in America. Rather, it was a fundraiser for my own community. I belong to the Junior Woman’s Club of Walpole (not to be confused with the Junior League). The Junior Woman’s Club of Walpole (JWCW) is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), one of the world’s largest and oldest women’s volunteer service organizations. The GFWC support the arts, promote education, encourage healthy lifestyles, stress civic involvement, and work toward peace and understanding. The JWCW is dedicated to improving the Town Of Walpole (MA) and its surrounding areas through many charitable programs.

Last year, I agreed to co-chair the club’s Annual Fashion Show. It’s our biggest fundraiser and it takes a lot of work to plan and execute. I was pretty excited about this opportunity. It was a good chance for me to put into practice all that I’ve learned about leadership, working with a team, and building and maintaining a successful copreneurial relationship. Plus, it’s a very fun event.

Where do you start when you take on a colossal task such as a fashion show?

I started with choosing the right partner. I’ll call her “Daisy” – she’ll love that. We were going to be working on this show for at least 9 months, so we obviously had to like each other. Truth be told, I kind of roped Daisy into this and I’m so thankful that she agreed to do it with me. Before we hashed out any details about how we were going to work together and who would do what, we talked about the big picture. What were our goals for this event and how could we utilize our individual strengths to reach those goals without killing each other?

You see, on the surface, my co-chair and I have similar personality traits, so there was the potential for some major blowouts. We both have a good sense of humor (actually, we’re both wise a**es). We’re both intelligent, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are both strong willed, very opinionated, dominant, alpha females. However, we have markedly different deliveries, which worked to our advantage.

As Daisy put it, I was the diplomatic or ‘touchy feely’ one and she was the direct, practical one. When I’d get too emotionally attached to the outcome of any situation (something coaches do NOT do when they are in the coach role, BTW), she’d be there to give me the proverbial ‘slap’ back to reality. She talked me off the ledge quite a few times. And when she’d get upset by any resistance we may have come up against, whether by other volunteers, board members, or vendors, my diplomacy would kick in. I’d want to look at both sides of the argument, which makes sense in light of what I do for a living. I know for sure that this annoyed her because that’s how she came to give me the ‘touchy feely’ moniker. I couldn’t wait for the night of the show, and she couldn’t wait until the day after the show. See? We balanced each other very well. We had a good copreneurial relationship.

Our talents were also well balanced and complementary. We divided the major tasks based on our strengths. I’ve done a lot of event planning, so the logistics of the actual show were easy for me. We both fancy ourselves writers but Daisy is more formal and grammatically ‘spot on,’ whereas I’m more informal and conversational in style, as you can tell. She also has superior proofreading skills, so it was natural for her to write all the articles and advertisements that we submitted to the local papers and businesses. She had some ideas on how to improve some of the processes that had been in place for years, and I wanted to use my creativity to make the centerpieces.

Daisy is incredibly organized and keeps great notes and records, whereas I write things on the back of napkins, or on a 3″ x 3″ cube of paper from a company I worked for 12 years ago! I was the negotiator and the troubleshooter whenever a crisis arose, while Daisy was the one who kept everything orderly and she can be credited for writing the ‘handbook’ for how to execute this event in the future.

When it came to the rest of the stuff, we split it by where it fell on the timeline. We made sure that neither of us were slammed with consecutive deadlines prior to the show or were responsible for two things that occurred at the same time on the night of the event. While Daisy worked with the greeters, I worked with the models in the makeup room. While she oversaw raffle prize logistics, I was with the vendors backstage, and so on.

We hashed out most of this stuff before we started the project, and the rest of the partnership unfolded as we went along. We set some ground rules around how we would handle conflict and we stuck to them, which is how we emerged from nine months of hard work with our relationship intact. This is a concept I stress with my copreneur clients.

I would say that the most important thing I learned through co-chairing this event, is that sometimes it’s better to play the necessary role in a partnership- not always the natural role. Hey, I like that “the necessary role, not the natural role.” I think I’ll write it on the back of this envelope on my desk….

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NYC logistics August 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

It’s good to see partners working together to make their venture successful, instead of showing who is the best decision maker. History shows that truly successful companies are those with solid partnerships — not just to managers themselves but to their employees.


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