Happy birthday, mighty Event 360! As we approach our 18th birthday on November 27th, we’re excited to take a moment and reflect on this special place that so many have called “home” since its founding in 2002. Not many small businesses reach the “old enough to vote” milestone, and our growth has certainly not always been easy, straightforward, or fun. This year has been especially challenging, as COVID-19 disrupted absolutely everything, from our cherished teammates to our partners, from our projects to our planning.

While 2020 in particular looks quite different than 2002, our core values have not changed — the foundational belief that true connection and impact are amplified through live events. We may look different from the company that was born in 2002 in the back of a tour bus on a napkin by friends who wanted to make the world a better place through events, but the goal and the need for that connection and impact remain.

Technology and tools, communication channels, the concept of what a workplace is, marketing tactics, and so much more have changed. Before we hit the turkey and stuffing next week and virtually join together with our families across the country, our team wanted to take a second to look back at the year we joined the Event 360 family and share what’s different from when each of us started.

Tim Brockman, President & COO, 2002

Oh my!! So, so, so much — people, places, families. 100-page route direction books vs. your phone — although you still need to watch out for low bridges.

Mike Murphy, Executive VP of Event Production, 2002

Well, I have a bit less hair, and the silver is starting to take hold. But we are definitely smarter about how to help our clientele and positioned to do that with the smartest people around. We also have so many great relationships across the industry and with so many jurisdictions compared to when we started. We’re trusted to give honest advice and do what we say we will. I guess that’s what comes from experience. The last year has taken away “normal” for all of us, but it’s going to be important for the industry to hit the ground running as soon as it’s possible. We stand ready to go.

Joann Buckley Collins, Senior Copywriter, 2004

Well, when I started at Event 360, I had a newborn, and now he’s a senior in high school, so a lot has changed in my world. There have also been a lot of changes in how we market fundraising events. All of the key cornerstones of our marketing and advertising plans in the early 2000s — TV ads, radio, point-of-purchase displays, outdoor, mailings — have gone by the wayside. Facebook didn’t even exist when I started at Event 360. Now social media, digital advertising, text messaging, email — these are the tools that help us reach our participants, and help our participants raise money.

John Diesel, Data Warehouse Manager, 2006

The biggest change is how much the event business has transformed, not just pandemic-related, but the sheer quantity and type of events — and the number of clients needing assistance.

Molly Fast, Local Operations Director, 2004

So many things! We’re older and wiser. Our strategies and approaches to our work have grown and changed alongside each person as well. I laugh thinking of the work hard/play hard mentality that had us up waaaay past our bedtime celebrating after events in the past and how much that has changed and how sensible we’ve become (mostly). Don’t get me wrong, we still work hard/play hard…it just looks differently with that age and wisdom thing! From a practical standpoint, I think of the thousands of outbound calls we used to make to participants to get them to sign up for an event and how much that has changed. Using text as a main form of communication is something I couldn’t have even imagined back in 2004.

Jake Geiger, Account Director, 2004

When I started, we were still doing written vehicle directions and putting together a binder for the route teams on the 3-Day. Also, our company HQ was on the south side of Chicago in an old industrial warehouse. During hot summer days, the meat packing plant and cookie factory would send us savory or unsavory aromatic presents depending on which way the wind was blowing that day.

Irina Gelfand, General Counsel, 2009

E-sign is the way of the future.

Jennifer Hagan, Account Director, 2005-2013, 2018

Wow, there is a lot that is different. One of the biggest differences is social media. That was pretty much unheard of when I started. Back in 2005 we were still creating TV commercials, having large in-person meetings to recruit participants, and calling people on the phone! Now we advertise through social media and connect with people through text.

Cyrena Hillyard, Director, Creative Services, 2004

When I started at Event 360, we still mailed a lot of materials to participants, from registration kits to monthly newsletters to check-in passes and on-event credentials; managing printing and mailing was one of the biggest reasons I was hired. Now so much communication is done electronically via email, text, social, online check-in and print-at-home credentials. It’s amazing to think about the changes in 16 years. And, that’s just a small portion of the work we do that has been innovated over time.

Tisho Jessop, Fundraising and Support Coach, 2012

Two very different things, but both amazing: Hotel Camp and mobile check deposit! Three of our four 3-Day events in 2021 will use our new Hotel Camp model where walkers and crew spend two nights in a hotel room instead of in our cute pink tents. It’s such a great option for people who don’t love sleeping outdoors; yet we still have the tent format in one city for the people who consider that a treasured part of the experience. I love how well we continue to adapt to the needs of our community. And mobile check deposit? It’s the best! No more printing and completing a paper donation form, finding an envelope and stamp, waiting for the mail to arrive at the P.O. box, waiting for the bank to process the check, hoping that nothing gets lost in transit. Participants use our free app to take a photo of a check donation and BAM, it is applied to their account in minutes! It’s truly a technological change that has made fundraising so much easier for our participants.

Jane Kramer, IT Product Manager, 2004

What hasn’t changed?! It seems to me that almost everything is different in some way, in most cases for the better. Where there is no difference, however, is that we still share our workdays with inspired, dedicated, big-hearted, and fun colleagues — and hooray for that!

Lisa Matuszewski, Associate Donations Manager, 2005

In 2005, the majority of donations and event registrations were made via check. It was a lot of paper! I’m so thankful that the majority of transactions are now made online. It’s better for the planet, and we can manage the same volume with a smaller team.

Patrick Riley, Vice President, Account Directors, 2003

There has been a complete transformation from analog to digital. And a maturation of peer-to-peer fundraising. A P2P fundraising event was still unique in 2003 but the expectations of participants, donor and clients in the years since have standardized practices. But zip ties are forever!

Jillian Schranz, Director of Business Development, 2006

Route books! Taking two days to drive and QC every possible route from opening ceremonies to pit stop, pit stop to finish…that was so stressful! Thank you, Google Maps. And social media, of course. My very first proposal as a fundraising coach in 2006 was how we could “better utilize MySpace” for our participants. Ha!

Slade Thompson, Account Director, 2003

What hasn’t changed in 17 years? The biggest change is probably in my own understanding that each event is unique. You might work on 30 5K runs/walks in a year, but even if they are all “the same,” they are most definitely each unique. And embracing that uniqueness is what keeps the work interesting and fun.

Matt Tremback, Controller, 2009

One, two, three, four offices. One, two, three accounting systems. A handful of payroll/benefits providers. What’s the same?!

Katie Zupancic Wymer, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing, 2012

Texting participants for both acquisition and cultivation has been an incredible addition to our marketing arsenal. The real, raw conversations we can have directly with participants via texting is very special. The quality of cell phone cameras has also dramatically improved; we can get photos and videos strong enough for digital ads with an iPhone instead of a full film crew. Plus, my new, tiny coworker is pretty adorable.

Reflecting back is simultaneously bittersweet, funny, and humbling, and we’re looking forward to the next 18 years of impact through events. We want to know: What’s different from when you first started your career in the event industry?

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