The Root Ball

(Houston, TX)- Trees For Houston hosts a gala, the Root Ball, which raises money and increases the visibility of the organization.



Category: Fundraising
OVERVIEW
For the past 13 years, Trees For Houston has hosted a successful gala, the Root Ball, which not only raises a significant amount of money for the organization but also greatly increases the visibility of the organization in the crowded social world of Houston.
BACKGROUND
Trees For Houston’s mission is to plant, protect and promote trees. Since its inception in 1983, it has been responsible for the planting and monitoring of almost 300,669 street trees and seedlings.
Since 1995, Trees For Houston has hosted an annual gala dubbed the RootBall to raise awareness of the organization and its mission and to raise funds for its projects.
COMPONENTS
The RootBall is all about having fun. Held under a tent at a private club, the event features a live band with dancing, beverages (including a marTREEni bar), appetizers, a buffet dinner and a raffle.
The event is typically co-chaired by two people who oversee a committee devoted to the event. Staff is instrumental in taking care of the logistics for the event, including mailing the approximately 4,000 invitations, decorating the site and handling all the catering logistics.
Letters soliciting underwriting donations are sent in November. Reminder letters are sent in January and the actual invitations are mailed about a month before the April event. Underwriter categories range from $25,000 – $3,000 for a table of 10 and $1,000 to $300 for individual seats. See the web-site at www.treesforhouston.org for a full listing of underwriter categories.
RESULTS
Depending on the year, the RootBall raises between $230,000 and $325,000. After expenses, it nets from $140,000 to $185,000. The number of guests also varies from year to year. In 2007 there were approximately 550 guests. One of most exciting aspects of the RootBall is that it brings in a significant number of young attendees each year.
LESSONS LEARNED
1. Make your event a one-of-a-kind. The RootBall is unique in Houston because of its informal party atmosphere. Most events of similar organizations in the city are more formal and feature awards. The Root Ball has a more festive, relaxed atmosphere.
2. Choose chairpersons for the event who can draw in the participants you want. Trees For Houston often, but not always, taps board members to chair the gala. Staff makes a point of noticing who in the community is active in this type of event and tries to tap them early in the year to serve as chairpersons.
3. Actively seek out young people who are new to your organization to become members and to attend your events. While it’s important to keep your old membership, it is equally important to bring in new and younger participants. In July 2001, Trees For Houston formed a new membership group, the RedBuds, for young Houstonians (ages 21-39).
4. Remember that such an event can be a great marketing device for your organization beyond the money raised that one night. Pay attention to details-from the invitations to the decorations to the food and music. This is the image your organization will have in the community. Word-of-mouth about last year’s event is the most effective marketing strategy for the next year’s gala.
Contact Information:
Barry Ward, Executive Director
Trees for Houston
3100 Weslayan, Suite 305
Houston, TX 77027
Phone: (713) 840-8733
Fax: (713) 840-8734
(c) 2005 Alliance for Community Trees