WE are all about rethinking occasions where guests feel compelled to bring a gift as an opportunity to give back, like asking for board books that can be donated to a local shelter.

Jessie Williams

Founder/ Lead Event Planner

Location: Chicago, IL

WE EVENTS is a Chicago event planning company that incorporates support of local not-for-profit organizations into their events in a fun and easy way. We are a for-profit business, yet we also recognize that to whom much is given, much is expected. To that end, every one of our events has a giving back component. We are proud to offer financial contributions, supply donations, and publicity to Chicago based not-for-profit organizations.

Paying it forward.
So how does that unfold? It’s crafting for a cause at a child’s birthday party. A donation drive for a girl’s night out. Financial contributions in lieu of gifts at an anniversary celebration. WE are expert event planners – ensuring that every facet of your unique celebration runs smoothly. WE also are committed to paying this joy forward.

Spreading joy.
Simply said, it’s all about having fun while doing good.

I was featured in both of these which was amazing!!

https://bestforthemoment.com/2020/01/18/mama-shaker-jessie-giving-back-on-your-terms/
https://heymama.co/planning-a-party-meet-the-13-best-event-producers-from-coast-to-coast/

I chose not to do any press the first 12 months of starting WE EVENTS because I wanted to prove what I could do before being talked about.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

First, they need to sit down and access their fundraising goals. What is more important to the organization… Monetary donations or awareness? Do they have a database of donors that they can rely on to show up? Is the event fun? People are getting burnt out on silent auctions and traditional galas. Can they shake it up and make the event memorable for their donors and attendees?

After that, the number one piece of advice I can give is to hire an onsite event coordinator. Day-of-Event Coordinators can problem-solve everything and manage all aspects of the event so the board members can enjoy the evening and spend their time talking to donors vs trying to figure out why the card readers all went down or why the food hasn’t come out yet.

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

Relationships with my vendors are incredibly important. It’s one of the main reasons my clients hire us to have access to all the best vendors in Chicago. I’m a very loyal person and love working with people and companies I can trust. I expect only the best from my vendors and in return will recommend and promote them any chance I can.

I ensure a good rapport by making sure my vendors have everything they need. Asking them upfront everything they need for day-of ensures that they can do their job smoothly. Which in turn makes my event run much smoother.

I like to work with other small businesses that have like-minded missions.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

DIY it or if you aren’t the creative type or don’t have time to DIY then go for minimalist decor. It’s trendy, classy, and way cheaper. Personally, for a dinner party, I love simple white linen with some greenery with a pop of color.

For a kid’s party, less is more. Cut the goodie bags and do an activity that the kids can take home. Such as a themed craft or cooking lesson where they
all get to take home some of the baked goods. WE EVENTS is all about the experience.

For fundraisers, cut the swag bag and instead have an onsite illustrator or fun experience where you can charge for it to raise money but the attendee also gets to take home a memento from the event.

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?

I have a very diverse work background. From sales to marketing to being a personal assistant to attending floral school and being on the board of several not-for-profits and planning tons of fundraisers…I have had my hand in it all. It may have taken me a little longer to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up”.

When my daughter was 6 months old I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. I grew up with not a lot and learned at an early age that the only person I could count on was myself so I struggled with not working and relying on my partner to support me. When my daughter was about 6 I was offered an amazing opportunity to go back to work in a position that was exciting. However, after several months of working for a sexist boss, I woke up one morning and decided
that I just couldn’t do this anymore. I’m too old to have to work for somebody whose morals don’t align with mine and dread going into work or leave crying because my boss asked me how it felt to be out of the house and did I need to go home early to make my husband dinner.

That being said, that company gave me the push to start my company and on my own terms. I want my company to be inclusive of everyone, especially moms. I want a company that gives back and doesn’t just think about the bottom line. My employees know that if we have to prep for an event that they can bring their kids. Childcare is expensive and I want our work environment to not be a burden on family life. Work can be fun and flexible but family is more important so why not merge the two?

Anything else you’d like to comment on while we, have you?

There’s no one size fits all to giving back. Some people want to write a check. Some people want to volunteer at an organization. Some people want to do it at home. There are so many ways to give back on your own terms and WE are here to help you!

Several ways to give back that don’t require a lot of time or money include picking up trash in your neighborhood or using sidewalk chalk to write inspiring notes. WE are all about rethinking occasions where guests feel compelled to bring a gift as an opportunity to give back, like asking for board books that can be donated to a local shelter.

Teach your kids early to give back and volunteer and hopefully WE can all help the world be a better place. A lot of it is just like being kind! A smile can make a big difference, and that is a way of giving back.

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