Northern California Spelmanslag
How to Get NCS Support for An Event
The following describes what is normally required to get NCS approval (and money) for a Scandinavian event that you want to organize. The guidelines are intended to help anyone who wants to organize an event and wants NCS help with it. The process is the same whether the organizer is on the NCS board or not.
The purpose of the guidelines is to make it easy to get sponsorship by explaining what the NCS Board will need to know. A proposal is only 1-2 pages describing what you're planning to do and what you're asking NCS to do.
First, some definitions:
An event could be a single event, such as an evening dance party or an afternoon workshop, or a series of "subevents" occurring over some period of time. For example, if you plan to have teachers available to Frank and Jane's class on Thursday, Jim and Linda's on Friday and do a concert/dance on Saturday night that would also be an "event" for the purposes of asking for NCS support. A series of subevents are usually needed to cover expenses.
A scenario is a description of one possible way of organizing an event. Especially in the early planning stages, there are often alternatives to consider. Variables include times, type of event and, if there will be cosponsors, who they might be. For example, if you're thinking of a weekend's worth of activities, one scenario might be music workshops during the day with a concert/dance Saturday and Sunday evenings. Another scenario might eliminate the Sunday concert dance, or hold it in a different location. Different scenarios typically will have different budgets.
The steps to getting approval are as follows:
1. Figure out what you want to propose.
If you know what you want to do, go on to step 2. If you're not sure, or if you just want general feedback on some ideas, you can submit an idea for discussion. This is normally done by describing your idea in writing and sending it via email to the NCS Board for discussion. (See the separate "Guidelines for Discussions and Decisions" for an explanation of how the Board makes decisions, especially using email). If you're not on the board, have email and a list of the board member's email addresses you can do this yourself. If not, you can ask any board member to do it for you. The members of the board will respond with their input. These responses will be individual ideas, and do not in any way commit NCS to sponsor your event.
II. Write a proposal.
Once you know what you want to do, or at least have it down to a couple of scenarios, write a proposal. A "fill-in-the-blank" template is included at the end of these guidelines. Your proposal should include the following:
- A description of what the event will be. Include everything important to understand what you propose to do such as whether it will be a dance event, a music event or both. How long will it last? What kind of music/dance? Who will teach? For example, will it be an evening dance, a concert and dance, afternoon fiddle workshop. On what dates will the event be held?
- A budget, with reasonable details. The Board needs answers to the following questions.
How much will it cost to put on the event and where will the money come from to cover expenses? Exactly what are you asking of NCS financially? For example, to you expect the event to break even but want NCS to cover any losses (i.e., you're asking for a grant)? If you take in money above expenses, where will it go? If you are asking NCS to cosponsor, what are our responsibilities vs other organizations. How will money-above-expenses or short-falls be split? If you expect NCS to cover a short-fall, you need to say so.
- A risk assessment. This does not need to be elaborate, but give us some reasonable judgement as to how likely things are to go as planned.
- A statement about what assistance you need from NCS other than the financials discussed above? Do you need an insurance certificate (available for dance events only)? What tasks do you need Board members to help with?
If you do scenarios, you'll need the above information for each.
III. Submit the proposal.
Submit your written proposal to the NCS president. It will first be forwarded to the board for discussion. Non-board members who submit proposals will be copied on the discussion. The president will summarize the responses, and you can then modify your proposal if necessary.
The president will then submit the final proposal to the board for a vote. You can ask for approval or ask the board to select a scenario. The president will inform all Board members plus non-Board members who are participants in the discussion of the Board's decision.
About time-frames. Submit your proposal as much in advance of the event as possible. That minimizes the chances your proposal will be denied because of conflicts with other events. Plan on it taking about a month, minimum, to get approval from the time you first ask for discussion of an idea. Normally board members are given one week to respond to a request for discussion or a request for a vote. We can move faster if necessary, but it's safer not to count on it.
III. Once your event is approved.
Basically you are free to organize the event in whatever way works best for you. To help you, there are separate guidelines for planning and organizing events (these don't exist as of 12/97, but eventually they will), or you can ask Board members for help. There are a few requirements, though, which have to be met.
It takes three weeks to get an insurance certificate. If you are planning a dance event in a public place and want NCS to provide insurance, talk to the treasurer about this as soon as your event is approved.
All fliers and other publicity should state that the event is "Sponsored by the Northern California Spelmanslag, a non-profit, public benefit organization" (or co-sponsored).
IV. After the event.
Write a short report for the board explaining how things went. Include a short overview of the financial results. If the budget wasn't met, explain what you think happened. For things that went well, describe what you think contributed to the success.