Non-Profit Spotlight: Full Circle Fund

Full Circle Fund is an engaged philanthropy organization focused on cultivating the next generation of community leaders and driving lasting social change in the Bay Area. Their members are successful entrepreneurs, professionals and executives from all sectors who spend thousands of hours in partnership with nonprofits, bringing their skills and connections to bear on the challenges these organizations face.

Events play a crucial role in this non-profit’s strategy. They put on about 50 events every year, which include Circle meetings, large scale special events, conferences, and seminars focused on their four key issue areas of education, global economic opportunity, technology, and the environment. We had a chance to sit down with Kari Nathon Jung who runs marketing to find out more about how events have helped this non-profit thrive and flourish.

Can you explain the role that events play for Full Circle Fund?

Events are critical to Full Circle Fund.  As a membership organization dedicated to building the next generation of community leaders, our events serve many purposes.  They are the pathways through which new members find out about our work, a platform where we can showcase the impact that our over 180 members are having in the community, and an opportunity for learning and engagement.  We do an average of about 50 events per year (which is almost one per week!) and we try hard to make sure that each one provides an interactive atmosphere in which we can bring subject matter experts, notable philanthropists, and innovators together to drive lasting social change in the Bay Area and beyond.

How do you pick the topics for your events?

Full Circle Fund’s philanthropic contributions and hands-on consulting work are focused on four key issue areas:  Environment, Education, Technology and Global Economic Opportunity. Each event focuses on one of those areas, and an innovative, timely, or emerging topic within that subject area. Our members are leaders, entrepreneurs, and forward-thinkers, so we constantly strive to present topics that will inspire them to engage, take action, and get more involved.  Many times the ideas come from our members, or from issues affecting our nonprofit partners.

How do you recruit speakers?

Over the nearly 10 years since Full Circle Fund was founded, we have been fortunate to host some of the most inspiring, compelling, and intelligent speakers in the world.  We’ve hosted Vice President Al Gore, the “father of microfinance”, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, the Obama Administration’s Director of the Office of Social Innovation Sonal Shah, and leaders in business such as Larry Brilliant (of Google.org and now the Skoll Foundation) and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. One of the biggest benefits to being part of Full Circle Fund is access to the incredible network of talented individuals who make up our membership.  We really leverage the power of our network to reach out to speakers. Usually, when we identify someone we want to invite, we find a way to find someone who can help us ask them. Of course, there are a few speakers we are still trying to reach!

Do you typically have sponsors for your events? How do you secure them?

Yes. Our events would not be possible without our sponsors.  We actually have an extremely small budget for our events, and we depend on the corporate and community partnerships to make them possible.  Again, we leverage the power of our network to reach out to potential partners, and then we strive to provide a package that is a win for them, as well as for us.  If they desire a high level of visibility, we make sure they are recognized before the event, at the event, online, and after the event.  That’s another important factor in securing sponsors and keeping everyone happy: customizing what type of recognition they do (or don’t) wish to receive, and following through.  Many of the in-kind sponsors that donate to our events repeatedly tell us they receive business through contacts made at the events.  And, we always recommend our sponsors!  Need a caterer? Photographer?  Florist? Graphic designer?  We can give you a recommendation.

Tell us a bit about your upcoming event focused on climate change? What can attendees expect to experience?

November’s Joint Impact Circle Event is a quarterly gathering where members of all four circles come together for an evening of networking, civic engagement and inspiration. Our event begins with a private Meet & Greet Reception where our top supporters and leadership meet our keynote speaker, Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS initiative, Ira C. Magaziner. Then at 6:30, the networking reception begins, and 200 guests (both Full Circle Fund members and potential members) will network and catch up in a beautiful art gallery space, Terra.  The artwork on the walls is for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Full Circle Fund. Guests will taste appetizers from M. Woodward Catering and wine from Tenuta Vineyards, try biodynamic wine from Frey Vineyards, and sip NUMI Organic Tea. We’ll even have delicious treats from Coldstone Creamery. Once the program begins at 7:30, there will be a welcome from our CEO, Amy Lesnick, and updates from our four circles on their recent work.  There will be a special announcement of the 2009 Full Circle Fund Member of the year, and then our keynote speaker, Ira Magaziner, who will discuss disruptive innovation in the movement combating climate change.  After the keynote, members will break out to talk about our four issue areas, and there will be a session for those interested in learning more about Full Circle Fund membership.

If you had one tip for non-profit event holders, what would it be?

Build relationships with trusted vendors and sponsors and seek out and utilize tools that automate your work and reduce errors. For instance, the feature in Eventbrite where you can clone a past online event ensures that our content stays consistent and cuts down on administrative time.  And, of course, remember to reflect on how you can improve the next event.

Full Circle Fund’s Calendar of Events

Events