The APCO International Conference is a big deal. So help get the word out about the 2011 conference, and raise money for members of your agency to attend: Participate in APCOâs Get Your Agency to Philly campaign by July 1.
Last yearâs winner was the Lee County (Fla.) Sheriffâs Office Communications Division, which raised more than $15,000 to send 11 staff members to the 2010 conference in Houston. According to Christine Hodges, the divisionâs communications training coordinator, âThe greatest benefit of participating [in Get Your Agency to Houston] was the incredible team spirit and camaraderie that brought everyone together in striving for and accomplishing a common goal. âŚ Our team proved to be a very determined, hard-working, goal-oriented group. This attitude brought us together and has held us together — not only in this goal, but in the running of our division.â
Use the online tools provided at www.apco2011.org/attendees/get-your-agency-to-philly.html to participate. Resources include letterhead; fundraising ideas; facts and information about the conference you can promote on your blog, Facebook and Twitter; and conference promotional material. After youâve organized your efforts, tell APCO about your campaign by creating a short video (two to five minutes in length) and uploading it to the website.
About their video submission, Hodges says, âOur video production staff put a lot of work into making the video with us. After shooting the live scenes and giving them the music and photographs [of our fundraising events], we let them run with it. They are awesome at what they do. When we were shooting scenes at the airport, they were taking video hanging out of a truck following us!â
Prizes will be awarded to the agency demonstrating the most creativity in its fundraising/campaign efforts, as well as the agency exhibiting the most team spirit.
For the Lee County Sheriffâs Office, this fundraising campaign and its related experiences became about more than just attending the Houston conference — it inspired a training initiative. The communications divisionâs efforts began in January 2010, after forming a Communications Training Team of 20 members. At the teamâs first meeting, it was clear that attending the APCO conference was a priority.
âNo one had ever been to this type of conference, especially so far out of town,â says Hodges. âWe decided at that meeting, we were going to go to Houston.â
The donations started with the team, with each member contributing $20. It was also determined that, due to scheduling, only 11 of the 20 team members could actually attend the conference. They also decided that the attendees would cover their own per diem. The goal: Raise $15,000 dollars for registration, airfare and hotel accommodations.
The first step really was to get permission from command staff and management to hold fundraising events. Comm Center Director Dena Macomber, the command staff and 9-1-1 Coordinator Matt Rechkemmer supported their effort throughout.
The next step was creating innovative events to raise funds. The team held a yard sale using donations brought in by co-workers and raised more than $1,000. They cooked lunches — which sold out — of pulled-pork, hotdogs, brats and hamburgers, and sold them to agency staff for $5 a plate. They also held a sausage, gravy and biscuits breakfast. They held bake sales, also using donated goods from other staff, and raised $500. They sold raffle tickets and encouraged donations.
The events went beyond the comm center. The team partnered with the community and local businesses. Costco donated meat and buns for cooking events, set up tents and participated in the Night of Heroes event. And a local water park held a Public Safety Day that provided discounts to public safety members and their families, as well as allowed the team to hold its 9-1-1 River Rally (a duck race) at the park. All the local organizations that participated were included as sponsors in press releases and other announcements.
One event, the Public Safety Chili Cook-Off, was sponsored by two conference exhibitors, Motorola and Verizon. âMotorola donated $750, and Verizon donated $500,â says Hodges. âWith their sponsorships in return, we had special shirts made up for our team members with the Motorola logo and the Verizon logo, which we wore to the exhibit hall. It was such a great networking activity. We still correspond with âThe MOMs,â the Men of Motorola.â
In total, the events brought in $6,000, which meant $400 per person of expenses. Ultimately, Rechkemmer paid for the conference registration, and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scot contributed the remaining amount, as well as enough money to cover the per diem for all 11 attendees.
âNot only was our division supportive, the entire agency was behind our efforts,â says Hodges. Co-workers came to help work events on their days off, and all 20 members of the Communications Training Team stayed engaged in the efforts.
Tips from the Winners
So how do you create a successful fundraising campaign for training? According to Hodges, itâs about determination and reaching out.
1. Be determined about your goals.
2. Be creative.
3. Get the community involved. Hodges says, âIf you are having community events, ensure they are family oriented and benefit other entities. Yes, our main goal was to raise money to be able to attend conference, but the important thing to remember is that this effort takes agency support and community support. âŚ For our Public Safety Chili Cook-Off, we let our chili teams vend their own chili, and we had the explorers selling drinks — all keeping their profits.â
4. Stay focused.
5. Work hard.
6. Say thank you. Hodges says, âIt is really a big deal for people to donate money or make extra purchases. It is the responsibility of the team to make sure proper thanks is given — whether it is in a press release or a television/radio interview, or simple sentiments to those who supported you throughout. Those two words mean everything.â
Fundraising did not stop after the 2010 conference. The Communications Training Teamâs next goal was to send staff to the Florida APCO state conference in November 2010.
Hodges says, âWe continued to do fundraising — including one of our greatest events, Bikers, Blues and BBQ on Saturday, Sept. 11. This event included a 9-1-1 Appreciation Ride, a Heroes Tribute Ceremony and a Rib Cook-Off. We were able to send 14 members to the state conference.â
According to Hodges, agency morale has never been higher. âThe morale that has been created is enormous,â she says. âSince the Houston conference, we have had team members participate on the Florida APCO Training Committee. One took part in the APCO Standards for CTO and had an article published in the APCO eNews. [Read âOfficer Down: The view from the dispatch roomâ by Cindra Dunaway.] Team members have been using the knowledge they gained in some of the training sessions and have been creating programs for our agency and in-house training.â
See your agency benefit by learning, acting and connecting at the 2011 APCO conference and beyond by participating in Get Your Agency to Philly. Submission deadline: July 1. All winners will be notified by July 16. Participate at www.apco2011.org/attendees/get-your-agency-to-philly.html.
About the Author
Natasha Yetman is associate editor for APCO Internationalâs Public Safety Communications. Contact her via e-mail.