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Get ready to rock-n-roll in Nashville, TN, at the Raise fundraising conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum!

Sept 9 & 10

Get ready to rock-n-roll in Nashville, TN, at the Raise fundraising conference!

Sept 9 & 10

Creating an Unforgettable Event Experience with Joey Goone

Reading Time: 24 minutes

LISTEN ON APPLE | LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

What if you could turn every fundraising event you host into an unforgettable experience that leaves attendees feeling inspired and connected? 

I’m hanging out with Joey Goon today, President of Utopia Experience, and we’re  uncovering ALL the secrets to creating impact and genuine connections at fundraising events. 

Joey takes us behind the scenes of a high-profile mastermind event in San Diego with celebrities and influencers, and how an event structure and schedule led to a successful impromptu $100,000 fundraising effort for a terminally ill girl.

Joey and I discuss why having a top-notch production team matters, and how integrating psychological safety and neuroscience principles into fundraising event planning can create transformative experiences. 

Looking to elevate your virtual and hybrid events? We also explore effective strategies for using Zoom breakout rooms and how Joey approaches attendee matchmaking. 

There are so many valuable tips in this episode for transforming your fundraising events into powerful, impactful experiences!

And, don’t forget to register for my Monthly Giving Summit coming up on Sept 5-6 from 1-4 pm ET – the ONLY virtual event designed to help nonprofits build, grow, and sustain subscriptions for good. RSVP for FREE here!

SNEAK PEEK

Resources & Links

Can we meet in Nashville? The 8th annual Raise fundraising conference, hosted by OneCause, will be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, TN September 9-10, 2024 Use code MISSIONS200 to receive $200 off registration, Register: https://bit.ly/4bNqihi

Learn more about Utopia Experience on their website and connect with Joey on LinkedIn. You can also tune in to his podcast, Impact Roadmap on Apple and Spotify.

Check out the Unforgettable Events ebook for FREE and learn Joey’s powerful frameworks for creating memorable events.

Join The Sustainers, my Slack community for nonprofit professionals growing and scaling a recurring giving program.

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you.

Additional resources for nonprofit fundraising events

Introduction

Joey Goone: Perhaps ask the question what are you going to do for us besides the technology? How can you add value beyond the technology? Because technology is just a conduit to make all of your assets and your stories come into the space right, but really the most important part of any event and any production is connection, creating the space for community and connection. And so how can your production team help create the conditions to where you go beyond mere technology? In a ballroom or in a venue? We need to be thinking more strategically. We need to be thinking bigger than that big blue sky. What kind of environment do we want to create for our attendees? And when you find the right production company, they’re going to ask you those questions.

Dana Snyder: Hey, there, you’re listening to the Missions to Movements podcast and I’m your host, Dana Snyder, digital strategist for nonprofits and founder and CEO of Positive Equations. This show highlights the digital strategies of organizations making a positive impact in the world. Ready to learn the latest trends, actionable tips and the real stories from behind the feed, let’s transform your mission into a movement. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Missions to Movements. I am your host, Dana Snyder, and I am very excited to be in your earbuds in your car, wherever you’re listening today, because we have a great conversation talking about event experiences, and with me to discuss this topic is Joey Goon. He is the president of Utopia Experience. Joey, welcome to the show.

Joey Goone: Thank you so much for having me. This is a full circle moment for me. This has been years in the making, so I’m grateful to be here.

Dana Snyder: Of course I know I was very grateful to be on your show and now I get to return the favor. Will you please do a quick highlight for your show, because I don’t want to wait until the end. Let them know right at the beginning when can they listen and what is your show about.

Joey Goone: Yes, so it is called the Impact Roadmap. It’s all about entrepreneurs that are making an impact. And for season two, we are specifically diving into the world of events, because that is our world.

Dana Snyder: We live it eat it, breathe it every single day. I don’t know if we eat events, but some events are more delicious than others. That’s very true, very important. Food at an event is very important.

Joey Goone: But you can find us on all the platforms Spotify, Apple. There’s a bunch of them out there. It’s Impact Roadmap. If you’re watching right now, just look for someone that looks just like me and that’s the right podcast.

Strategies for creating successful nonprofit fundraising events

Dana Snyder: Perfect, okay. So, Joey, I want to take us right in. I know you are just coming off of an event in San Diego. Take us to an event, describe one that is one of the best event experiences you’ve ever been a part of, and you could either have been producing it or you could have been an attendee.

Joey Goone: Can I do one of each?

Dana Snyder: Sure, I’ve got two that come to mind.

Joey Goone: Okay, so the one, of course, is the one that’s coming to mind is the one where I just touched down from. I’m still buzzing from the high, so just got back from San Diego producing a three-day mastermind, and this mastermind is regarded as the number one celebrity mastermind in the world. So there’s YouTube influencers, bachelorette contestants, technologists and entrepreneurs who are pioneering this integration of AI with robots, which was super freaky to see but really fascinating. Larry Namer was there. The founder of E Entertainment, wrote all the music for Seinfeld and Curb your Enthusiasm. Ex-NFL and NBA players the movie Cool Running.

Dana Snyder: Did you ever watch that? Yes, of course.

Joey Goone: So the Jamaican bobsled team, the main character that put together the team, his name’s Devon Harris. He was there, he talked about his experience and, last but not least, there were a number of other people in the space, but any Seinfeld fans out there would recognize the no soup for you. He was there as well. So there’s this super eclectic group of people from all walks of life, from all over the world, and so my key takeaways from this experience were twofold, and it was one.

Joey Goone: It was like there were 50 speakers, this three-day show, back-to-back-to-back days, 16-hour days, and it was content and breaks and lunch and entertainment in the evening, and to see our team seamlessly manage all of the sizzle reels and the assets the walk-up music, the calling of the cameras, changing slides, managing the AV and making the speakers, most importantly, feel like a million bucks. Our team and a shameless plug to our team just knocked it out of the park and I had to pinch myself multiple times because this is the company that we’ve been working so hard to build and here we are.

Dana Snyder: So cool. That’s amazing. So was it from the standpoint of best event experience? Because everything just flowed so well. Everybody seemed prepared. What, from your production side, made it feel like, oh yeah, creme de la creme?

Joey Goone: Yeah, it was when the audience doesn’t realize there’s a production team, and it’s just seamless in how it integrates and flows. We had AI 3D robots dancing on the LED wall in between speakers and music pumping and people were getting up out of their chairs dancing and then we’d queue up the next speaker. You see someone with a headset from our team running to grab the next speaker, getting them mic’d up, getting them ready, playing the sizzle reel music, walk up everybody out. It was just that seamless integration and doing that in a way. Think about doing that three days in a row, 16 hours a day, and still being high from the energy in the space. Yes, it just reminds me that something Gary Vee said. Are you a Gary Vee fan?

Dana Snyder: I mean I haven’t listened to him in a while, but yes.

Joey Goone: So there’s this video on my plane flight home that I heard from Gary Vee. On my plane flight home that I heard from Gary Vee and he said there’s two different types of people. The first type of people are ones who work really hard. These are the people that fully love it and just own it and embrace it. And then he said then there’s the reverse. There’s the people that are fearful and insecure, that they think, like getting straight A’s in school by working 12 hours is going to fix it, and they don’t really know themselves.

Joey Goone: And if someone’s insecure, they may think they might have to work those 12 hour days and make the million dollars, because then that million dollars is gonna show them that I’m good. And then they have the 12 hour days that they can brag about. And that’s not work ethic, that’s insecurity. So what really resonated for me in this whole thing is hard work is remarkably enjoyable when you love what you’re doing. Yeah, and I think the world and it’s really hard if you don’t I think the world just has this super reversed so to see our team come together in the way that they did and at the end of the day we’re high fiving and hugging and we’re laughing, we’re crying, like it just reinforced that we’ve built the right team. We’ve got the right members on the bus.

Dana Snyder: So I want to ask you a question before you go into your like event personal experience. Your team sounds like rock stars. If I am an organization that is planning an event and wants to hire a production team, what is a question, or a couple questions, that I can ask to get a team like yours to know I’m making the right decision with the production team that I’m about to hire?

How to hire the right production team to create your next charitable fundraising event

Joey Goone: That’s such a good question. Do you have experience, Dana, in working with different production companies, whether it’s in-house or creative agencies like ours? I do, so just maybe throw out your perspective. I can throw out mine, because I’ve got a couple of different things that come to mind, but I’d just be curious what your share would be around that.

Dana Snyder: Yeah, I mean I think I always look. I ask for, like examples – Do you have previous events that you’ve produced that you have video footage of? How long has the team been, maybe like working together, or is there certain things that you truly focus on that you say you’re experts in, and then, of course, like testimonials from other organizations that you can speak to about what it was like running your event with this team?

Joey Goone: Yeah, love those. Yeah, I would think to piggyback off of that, perhaps ask the question what are you going to do for us besides the technology? How can you add value beyond the technology? Because one of the things, dana, we talked about before we hit record was the technology is just a conduit to make all of your assets and your stories come into the space, right, but really, the most important part of any event and any production is connection, creating the space for community and connection. And so how can your production team help create the conditions to where you go beyond mere technology, in a ballroom or in a venue?

Dana Snyder: Yep.

Joey Goone: I love that. If they’re just talking to you about how many microphones you need, how many speakers on stage, are you doing PowerPoint or are you doing keynote? We need to be thinking more strategically. We need to be thinking bigger than that big blue sky. What kind of environment do we want to create for our attendees? And when you find the right production company, they’re going to ask you those questions.

Creating transformative fundraising events with integrated psychological and neuroscience principles

Dana Snyder: Yes, I love that. You know what I this takes me back to, which is funny, but it’s an event. A production is a wedding. And I remember when I was planning my second wedding, because the first one was canceled due to COVID, so the second time we had to plan it I remember saying to myself and to my husband what is the experience that I want my guests to have from the moment that they arrive? And I was walking the grounds, walking the venues, from their perspective. What do I want to have happen here? How do I want them to feel there? How are they going to meet each other here? How are they sitting? Who’s sitting? Like all of these things to think about.

Dana Snyder: And I think if you have a team that’s able to, so often we’re so close to our own events that we need someone else to have that like 30,000 foot view and to ask that question of what do you want someone to feel when they walk through the door, so simply as do they know where they’re going? Some of like the common questions like feel when they walk through the door, it’s so simply as do they know where they’re going. Some of the common questions, like do they know how to use the rest, where the restrooms are Like, what’s the food experience, all that kind of stuff. But then, of course, when you’re sitting down in your seat, what is the visual experience? And then where are the connections being made? I love that. What about for you as an attendee of an event? What event has stood out for you and why?

Joey Goone: Yeah, I think this segues perfectly, and what you just shared is that there was an event where I was an attendee. It was marketed as this personal development event. Like you know, come you’re going to have the opportunity to hear from incredible speakers like Jeff Hoffman, the co-founder of Priceline and Expediacom, and Nick Santanastasso, who is an amazing human being who was born with head heart syndrome, so he doesn’t have arms or legs and so you know limbs where his arms and legs were supposed to be right, and so, anyway, I’m trying to be diplomatic and politically correct. I just don’t have the verbiage or the language around his particular syndrome, but it’s head heart syndrome and he was going to inspire us, and he did inspire us to say yes, and he’s like, hey, if I was born with this and I’m saying yes, you need to say it. So it was like all these incredible speakers.

Joey Goone: But what resonated with me the most out of anything that we did there was green juice and yoga, and it was in a nature retreat or nature reserve. So we went outside and we hiked together and there was community building and connection, and once we did all of those things together and we felt this bond as a community, we came back into the room, there was this video that was played about this little girl named Hannah, and she was this seven, eight, nine-year-old little girl and played this fun to need video for the charity that was there, benefiting from all of our ticket sales and the sponsorships. All the money that was raised was going to benefit this particular charity, and so this video was played. It was Hannah’s Wish it’s not Make-A-Wish different group and all she wanted to do was go to this Taylor Swift concert.

Joey Goone: And we knew through that video that the only thing that she had seen the last six months of her life was the inside walls, the four walls of a hospital, and she had this terminal disease and they gave her like two months to live, which is just tragic. Yeah. So after that video played, they asked us to write a letter to Hannah. Oh, wow. So there was blank stationery on every table and they said every single attendee in the room right now, you’ve all loved on each other, you know you’ve connected with each other, you feel like you’re a part of this group. Well, now you’re a part of Hannah’s family.

Joey Goone: Wow, as a group of 150 of you. We want you to just take a moment and write words of love, words of endearment, words of encouragement to Hannah and her family for all they’re going through right now. And after we turned those letters in, then we went into a paddle race. Do you think we raised that $100,000 needed to send her to the Taylor Swift concert 100%? Hell yeah, we did.

Dana Snyder: Wow, what a cool experience, and I have attended so many nonprofit events. I’ve never had a participatory moment like that. That’s beautiful. What a cool, cool experience. Okay, so this goes into perfectly. My next question is what do you think are the elements that make up a great event?

Joey Goone: Yeah, I come back to Hannah’s story and what I shared a moment ago about the technology in the room is merely just technology. You have to create the conditions to enable the hearts and the minds of many, and so, as event organizers, we have to understand the importance of psychological safety, of how that event that I just described unfolded. First it was learning from influencers and great entrepreneurs, then it was yoga, then it was a walk in the woods, getting good in the woods, then it was green juice and vibrant nutritional food that we were nourishing our bodies. Then it was the story. So it’s how we engineer it and set it up.

Joey Goone: If we just walked in 150 people that didn’t know this organization and the first thing they did was play a fun to me video or have a sit down for four hours and deliver a one-way program to us, it would have failed miserably. The technology could have been incredible, didn’t matter, and so all of the tech that we bring to events is really informed by something much deeper. It’s not merely technology in a venue. So everything that we’re doing as a production agency is anchored in neuroscience and psychological safety. Our goal is to understand how the brain works, and I’m not an academic professor, neuroscience extraordinaire. I don’t have my doctorate or PhD, but I’ve been coached by those individuals and we bring that coaching back to our team so we can understand how to incorporate this stuff into your events.

Dana Snyder: I think that right there is a question that people should ask for people that they’re gonna work with for an event.

Joey Goone: If they have an understanding of neuroscience.

Dana Snyder: yeah, yeah, I mean, is that something common that you see in your space with other production companies? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody talk about that.

Joey Goone: I think that’s our competitive advantage. I really do.

Dana Snyder: Yeah, that’s incredible.

Joey Goone: We didn’t deliberately seek it out. I just was trying to take in as much personal development that I possibly could during COVID to figure out what’s out there right, and this was a group that I stumbled upon. It’s called Exchange Approach. They’re a group of event organizers that train facilitators and keynote speakers on neuroscience and psychological safety, and so I just stumbled into this group. I got trained by them and they bring in some of the top researchers doctors, physicians, scientists and because of that I’ve been fortunate enough to just be in the right place at the right time and then bring this back to our clients.

Strategies for virtual and hybrid fundraising events

Dana Snyder: So cool. So for listeners who might have a live event versus maybe hybrid, versus full virtual production which slight teaser and I’m asking this for my own benefit I’m planning a monthly giving virtual summit on September 5th and 6th, which is super exciting. So I get to ask you some questions and then hopefully everybody can learn. But I’m also learning right alongside the listener today. Listener, by the way, I will put a link in the show notes, but if you’re interested in attending, you can go to positive equationcom backslash. Monthly dash giving, dash summit. It’s just an interest page right now. It’s not an official registration. I will share that shortly. But to create what you’re talking about virtually, have you seen that done? Well, what does that look like?

Joey Goone: Yeah, the virtual and hybrid 1.0 events are the ones where it’s just like a webinar right. Think of a webinar experience where you’re a passive attendee being fed information downstream our experience where you’re a passive attendee being fed information downstream.

Joey Goone: So I think the way that you might consider creating those communal elements in a virtual or a hybrid well, virtual first would be use Zoom and do breakout rooms. We’ve had such a great experience with asking people a question. We do a mastermind and we’ll ask people like hey, let’s talk about your best year ever, what kind of event do you want to create? What kind of content to promote and market that event? Spend two minutes reflecting on that and we give them some reflection space and then we put them in a breakout room with one other person. So it’s two people connecting, sharing ideas, connecting with one another, and then we bring them back to the main room together as a group of you know a couple hundred people and we ask them to raise their hand and share their ideas, because you never know what insights people might clean and have those aha moments from hearing other audience member shares.

Dana Snyder: Absolutely. That’s a big part of what I want to do and I’m doing two half days to not overwhelm with volume of content and like day one being big picture conversations, kind of like keynote style, a couple of panels, and then day two is all going to be breakouts.

Dana Snyder: It’s going to be, one-to-one kind of speed networking, and then you’re going to get either assigned a group or you can choose a group to be in based upon the size of your monthly giving program. Or there’ll be like a room with a copywriter, there’ll be a room with a website designer, there’ll be a room with like X experts, and you can pick to go into those rooms like work on something that you actually want to get accomplished. And so I think for me, some of the best events have been when there is like a matchmaking almost of understanding what’s the reason that an attendee is here, what are the questions that they have. And my goal as an event facilitator creator is that you leave this event with not only those questions answered but the people and the resources to help you make it happen afterwards. Because it’s one thing to leave inspired, that’s a beautiful thing, but then you sit down at your desk, like most of us do in our virtual remote working homes, and I’m here by myself.

Dana Snyder: I’m here by myself and there’s no more like groups of people inspiring me anymore and I just like need to like get it done Right, so that is my hope. And I love the fact that like get it done Right, so that is my hope. And I love the fact that, like, the production team is also thinking about those elements as well.

Joey Goone: Yeah, I think that the way you’ve just explained, that you are less than 1% of the population, which is not, I mean we could come at that from a scarcity based mentality and say, well, there’s not enough there, you know Dana’s doing it. And, like the scarcity based mentality would say, well, there’s not enough there’s, you know Dana’s doing it and like the scarcity-based mentality would say, well, there’s not enough resources, not enough time, not enough effort for me to do something like that, but Dana can do it because you know that’s good for Dana. The abundance mentality says, oh gosh, if she’s doing it, what might it look like for us to do something like that too in our community?

Dana Snyder: right, y’all, you can totally do it. I must have a one and a half one and a half, and then this mama likes to play with her daughter. So I do not work a 40 hour week at all. I just think I am like honed in, I’m zeroed in on what it is I want to accomplish and focus to do that, and I am especially having Kennedy. I’ve gotten very good at like time management. I have a to-do list and I am not randomly Google, searching or scrolling Instagram during the day. Let’s be real. But you can totally do it, totally do it.

Joey Goone: If only 1% of the people are doing it, that gives you like 99%, like what your goal should be. And this is a competitive side of me that I don’t typically bring out because this sits way back in the seat of consciousness. But sometimes that competitive nature can be good, because competition invites us to bring our best selves and to continue to innovate right. And so the competitive nature in me says, hey, if 99% of the world is not doing this, that is a huge opportunity to make my event way more awesome. So when they go to other people’s events, they’re just a little less awesome and they come back to mine.

Dana Snyder: It’s just a little less awesome and I’m also happy to share. Every time I go to an event, I always try and talk to the event creator and be like may I provide you with a couple suggestions on X, y and Z thing, because it’s one thing to like come home and be thinking these things, but I’d rather just tell you then hopefully the next year can be even better. So okay, let’s just say we have a knockout dope event. That’s happening. It’s amazing. How do we get people there? When you work with your events, do you talk to them about, like, the pre-marketing assets and then even, like, when the event is happening, the creation of the marketing assets are there for the next year’s event?

Joey Goone: I’m so glad you brought this up. Have you seen this book?

Dana Snyder: A hundred million leads. I have not it says at the bottom how to get strangers to buy your stuff. I have not read this book.

Joey Goone: Sounds like I should have to read this book and if you’re planning an event and you’re scaling a business, pick this book up, okay.

Joey Goone: It will change your perspective. And it oversimplifies to the point of like how to scale a business for dummies type language. It oversimplifies, which is good for many of us, right, because we have so much information coming at us information overload. We live in an information economy. Alex makes it super simple to think about how to scale a business. So, dana, to answer your question, I don’t know how much time we have for this question, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version and if you want to hear more of it, buy his book or send me a message and I’m happy to unpack it further. But there’s basically like four quadrants and four ways to grow your business. So imagine dividing a piece of paper into four quadrants to represent these strategies. Draw a vertical line and then cross it with a horizontal line, create four sections, x and Y axes Axes yes, sounds good. And then label the Y axis with one to one on the top and then one to many on the bottom.

Joey Goone: And then for the X axis, it’s people you know and people you don’t know. So the top left quadrant is one to one people who know you and so this strategy is focusing on leveraging personal networks through warm outreach, so organic reach tactics like social media posts, text messages, calls to friends and family to promote your business or your event. So this approach helps a ton of our clients when it comes to planning their event. It’s really just getting into your Rolodex and saying, hey, who do I know? And can you just record a quick 15 second video on your iPhone and say, hey, we’re doing this thing, come support us. That’s one way to do it right Just warm outreach consistently. But you reach a point to where you run out of people to contact. There’s only so many people that we know, and so the top right quadrant is one-to-one people who don’t know you. So this is cold outreach to individuals that might be unfamiliar with your business, and there are platforms like ZoomInfo or LeadIQ or Apollo and you can use these platforms to build personal communication funnels to invite people into your ecosystem, to invite them to come to your event.

Joey Goone: Linkedin absolutely. Take content like this, dana, like what you and I are recording, chop it up into small soundbites and put it out there on LinkedIn promoting your event. Maybe, if you’re a nonprofit, utilize your recipients and bring them on and do a day in the life of what it’s like to be a recipient of this particular organization. How has the organization helped them? How has it created this new life-changing, life-altering experience? Post that content online, invite people to come.

Dana Snyder: And there’s two more quadrants, but I’m going to stop there just in the interest of time and we can unpack it further in another conversation on another day.

Joey Goone: I’m just curious what are the bottom two? The bottom two, bottom left quadrant is one to many people who know you.

Dana Snyder: Okay.

Joey Goone: So the strategy here is to provide free, valuable content to your existing audience, so this could be through webinars, youtube, instagram, and so we always encourage people in this particular bucket to use the three E’s Make it entertaining, make it educational, make it emotional and remember. Make it short. The average attention span is now less than seven seconds per video, so seven seconds is ideal. You want your hook and your call to action in your first 10 seconds.

Dana Snyder: Unless it’s a really good bingeable Netflix show.

Joey Goone: Yes, very true, Dana. This is way more up your alley than mine. I’m just sharing some of the things that I learned from just pushing off the hooks yeah. The idea in this quadrant is really to build trust and goodwill without asking for money. People expect you to ask for money, so remember that, and when you don’t ask for money, you build trust. So give away 100% of what you know and don’t ask for a darn thing and watch your business or your event triple as a result.

Dana Snyder: I’ve heard that too.

Joey Goone: That was a Tony Robbins quote.

Dana Snyder: Oh, look at that, hey, tony Little. Anthony Robbins Love him, love him.

Joey Goone: And then the last quadrant is one to many people who don’t know you, and so this strategy is just paid ads, which, from what I hear you are one of the best, if not the best, in the industry at paid ads Reaching new audiences. So it’s identify the ideal platform, identify the audience, create content for that specific audience.

Dana Snyder: Yeah, cool, okay, I love it. What’s your feedback? This is something that I really learned from working on American Idol. When I was a digital producer on the show was a digital producer on the show. Something that we did all the time was when we were recording content that was not going to be a live episode. We were batch filming a bunch of things that then we would act as if it was live when the show aired. So when you are at events, do you ever have organizations that are asking you to create extra subliminal content, for example, even like testimonials from people at the event talking about the event experience, like something that’s not necessarily going out live right in that moment, but it’s going to be used further down the line?

Joey Goone: yeah, 100. One of the things that immediately comes to mind is you know, we talked about psychological safety and you mentioned, from the first moment someone steps out of the car. How do you create those conditions so people feel welcome, like you just mentioned, capturing information and testimonials and sound bites. You can do that with a red carpet, you know, in the parking lot and as people are coming into the event, you’re interviewing them like wow, you know, why are you here? You could be anywhere in the world, why did you decide to come here tonight? You were wearing that dress. Wow, look at him, he’s looking fly. Yeah, let’s get everyone over to the red. And you’re interviewing them and you’re asking them pointed, deliberate questions too. So it’s not just the charisma and greeting them with this exuberant personality, it’s also hey, why are you here? How long have you been supporting our corporate event or our nonprofit or oh my gosh, I just had an idea.

Dana Snyder: Sorry to interrupt you as we’re talking about this like what a beautiful full circle moment If you had. It can be a very simple step back and repeat at the front whether you have a carpet or not, totally fine. But like ask everyone, the first thing they do is they get their photo taken for the event. Snap the photo. It makes you feel excited, you’re a part of something, it’s like you’re a little star for a minute. Then maybe you go over, you get interviewed about why you’re there and then and then that photo gets printed out and mailed to you as a thank you after the event for you to like put it on your fridge or whatever. Love that.

Dana Snyder: That I have never received after event. That would be amazing, especially for anybody who’s in the nonprofit charity world as a. Do you remember the evening that you had?

Joey Goone: That goes hand in hand with the letter writing. You know it’s something that doesn’t just disappear, because events are transient, fleeting moments in time, Kind of like life. If we want to get philosophical, it comes and then it goes right. How do you make-?

Dana Snyder: Life takes over the next day.

Joey Goone: Yeah, how do you ensure that they’re going to remember that moment, that experience, for the rest of their lives? That’s one way to do it. The letter writing, like we talked about earlier with Hannah, that’s another way to do it. The red carpet Think, think about sharing those red carpet shares back to the families you know. A month later, hey, remember when you had this really profound share with us on the red carpet, you said this particular thing that just really resonated with us. We wanted to tell you we love you.

Dana Snyder: Yeah, there was a cool thing. I just went to the make it happen conference that Jess Campbell put on for nonprofit consultants, and something special that she did was at the end she had us all write a letter to ourselves in like 90 days from now what do we want to have accomplished in our businesses? And we self-address them. She put the stamp on them and so 90 days from the day of the event, we’re going to get to open our letters to ourselves and see, like, are we doing the things that we set out to do?

Joey Goone: That’s freaking awesome. I love it.

Dana Snyder: There’s so many little like. Moments like that can make it feel very personalized and remind you of the experience that you had before. So I do want to ask you one more question Biggest learning with events, whether it’s something that has happened that was like, oh man, like I wish we could go back on that, or, on the positive side, something that just completely blew you mind and was like, oh yeah, we’re going to do that, moving on all the time.

Joey Goone: Yeah, wow, there was an aha moment for me when we produced an event last April and it was like this is it? This is what we’ve been missing, and it was all the things that we’ve talked about and strategically bringing them to life at an event. So the Van Gogh Museum, about a year and a half ago, two years ago, became this super widely popularized thing, right. So we took that concept and, with a champagne vision and a beer budget, we brought something like that to life, where we broke people up in groups of 20 to 30. So small, intimate groups of attendees and we took them through this guided vignette exhibit storytelling experience in a venue and they had different stops along the way, and at each of these stops we had our LED walls that had 90-second pre-recorded videos highlighting the families whose lives were being enhanced by the donor contributions. Cool.

Joey Goone: So, donors were stopping at these LED walls hearing a story, then continuing on to the next. There were photo ops in between, there was opportunity for connection, there was purposeful music and then at the end of the experience they had some time to connect at the bar and get their cocktails and really just sort of relate with one another on what they just went through. People were laughing, they were bawling their eyes out, they were hugging, they were making dinner plans and so these people that were strangers 15 minutes ago went through this 15 minute, incredibly like this experience that they were just able to connect with each other on. Then we brought all the families out and made that cocktail hour that much more interesting, because now you can network and connect with all the families you’ve just learned from on video. Then, and only then, did we ask the families to take their seats for the main program, but we brought that really beautiful connection experience into the space prior to going into the main program.

Dana Snyder: That is so cool. Does your work start at that type of planning, or did somebody on their team come to you with this concept?

Joey Goone: No, actually I give a shout out to my dad, Neil, who is my business partner, and he and my mom founded this company in 2002. And he’s been along for the journey ever since. It was his idea. Our creative team ran with it alongside Neil. That’s not to say that the team wasn’t involved, right Like we were all co-creating this as a group. Sure, sure, and I do have to give the shameless plug to Neil.

Dana Snyder: Get it. Get it, dad. Amazing Joey, thank you so much for everything that you’re doing and bringing these event experiences to life. I would like to enter the section called ask and receive. What is one thing that you would like to ask for help or support on from listeners?

Joey Goone: So we have this ebook that our marketing team has spent hundreds of hours on, and the ebook is all about how to storytell and produce the best event you’ve ever had . I want to give that away to everyone, and the only ask is please send us feedback on what else you would like to see on this ebook, because we’re trying to make it the only document that you ever need when it comes to planning an event. We need you to help us co-create the future of this ebook.

Dana Snyder: Okay cool. Where can people access it?

Joey Goone: Can we link it in the show notes, because the link is kind of it’s a little bit longer.

Dana Snyder: Yeah, for sure, okay, we will link to it in the show notes Cool, amazing, thank you. And then, lastly, of course, where can people connect with you?

Joey Goone: You can find me on all the socials. Linkedin, you can look up Joey Goone. I might be one of the only goons, metaphorically speaking, I mean literally might be one of the only Goones, but perhaps figuratively as well. But yeah, not many Goones on LinkedIn. Go find me there. If you want to go check out our company, it’s utopiaexperience.com.

Dana Snyder: You can also find us on all the socials. Beautiful, awesome, Joey. Thank you so much.

Joey Goone: Thank you, Dana.

Dana Snyder: I’d be so grateful for your feedback. Leave a review, take a screenshot of this episode, share it on Instagram stories and tag Positive Equation with one E so I can reshare and connect with you.

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