Several years ago, CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation came up with a new & fun idea to increase awareness about the important work we do. Butterfly Socials became a way to broaden our network by connecting to the friends & families of our existing dedicated volunteers & supporters.
Volunteers across the Richmond area and beyond have hosted Butterfly Social events to tell our story. One of our “Butterfly Social Superstars” is our very own Vicki Swanson, one of CJSTUF’s founding board members. She has hosted five fun & successful Butterfly Socials for CJSTUF, and we were able to talk to her about why she chooses to host every year, and with such success!
*What inspired you to host a Butterfly Social this year?
I love to host parties and get togethers with friends. The mission of CJSTUF is something I am passionate about so combining the two was a no-brainer!
*How do you plan your Butterfly Social to be as successful as possible?
I give a few weeks notice so guests have time to make plans. I use an Evite to track responses and send out reminders. I set up a table with information about CJSTUF so people can check it out if I’m busy with other guests. My party was a family friendly cook out so I make sure I have activities for the kids such as lawn games and crafts. CJSTUF can help with little giveaways too so the kids all get to take home a little goody bag.
*Do you directly ask your guests for a donation to support CJSTUF? If so, how do you do this?
I highlight in the Evite that the party is in support of CJSTUF and that donations will be appreciated but not expected. I don’t want guests to feel pressured into making a donation so I put out a donation box (a shoes box with a slit cut in the top). That way I’m not actively collecting donations and individuals can decide whether and how much to donate and it is kept confidential.
*What would you say to a person who is interested in hosting a Butterfly Social but is hesitant?
I would say go for it! I was originally wary of asking for donations but I have found friends are very happy to contribute. Even if they don’t contribute, you will have a chance to spread the word about CJSTUF and increasing awareness is very important to the growth of the foundation.
*What was the best part of your Butterfly Social this year?
This year I invited a number of families who hadn’t been before and didn’t know about CJSTUF. It was great to be able to talk to them about the work of the foundation. I met all of my goals – raised money, raised awareness and had a lot of fun in the process!
Here are some FAQ’s about Butterfly Socials:
What is a Butterfly Social?
It’s a party! A gathering! A great time! It can be as elaborate as a fancy cocktail party or as simple as a pizza & movie night. Many people plan to have get-togethers during the warmer months anyway, and a Butterfly Social is a way to combine that with spreading the word to your friends & family about CJSTUF. The theme, menu, and when & where you host your party are all up to you.
What do I have to do? Will CJSTUF help?
CJSTUF staff can be as involved (or as hands-off!) as you like with the planning. You’ll receive a toolkit and host packet with all of the important information. In addition, staff or board members will be available to serve as a CJSTUF representative at your party, and we can also provide favors for your guests.
While we would love for you to request that your guests consider making a financial gift to CJSTUF at your Butterfly Social, it is not a requirement. We would love to add your friends & family to our mailing list if they so choose.
Any funds you raise at your Butterfly Social will go directly to CJSTUF and the families we support. You and your guests are a very important part of the work we do!
If you are interested in hosting your own Butterfly Social this summer, please contact Michelle Alford, our Managing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.