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SEARCH Foundation Ramps Up Awareness Efforts

Helping fellow event professionals who are in need doesn’t always require opening your wallet. That’s the message the SEARCH Foundation, an organization that provides financial resources to event professionals in catastrophic situations, is trying to convey with its latest grassroots awareness efforts.

While SEARCH certainly isn’t turning down donations, the organization’s current focus is on getting the word out to event professionals about how the foundation can be a resource for them or their coworkers, said Rick Turner, chairman of the SEARCH Foundation executive committee. “We’ve really been working to bring awareness and let people know that we love donations, but that we’re really here to help,” he says. “If you know someone who can benefit from our assistance, please spread the word.”

SEARCH’s team has been reaching out to organizations such as the International Special Events Society, Meeting Professionals International, and the National Association of Catering Executives to spread its mission. It’s been a “lightbulb moment” for many members of those associations who had no idea such a foundation existed, Turner says. “[They realize,] ‘Hey, I could help someone in my office.’ It’s really an eye-opening experience for them.”

SEARCH, which has been around since 1997, is also getting the word out about its services through a new ambassador program. It working with “luminaries in the industry” who have been involved with the organization to lead the charge in supporting it, Turner says. Whether it’s spreading the word at industry events or donating speaker proceeds back to SEARCH, “they’re telling people, ‘This is an organization to get behind,’” he says.

SEARCH’s board has also seen an increase in speaking engagements. “We’ve had a lot of interest from industry associations who want us to come out and speak,” Turner says. “What’s really nice is the representation of our board is very geographically diverse.” This makes it easy to send board members to meetings closest to them.

“We have a lot of very diverse and great representation within our organization,” he says. “I get to see firsthand how people benefit from our involvement, and it’s nice that the org isn’t about any one person. It’s about the industry as a whole.”

SEARCH’s annual fundraiser will take place January 9 in Nashville, coinciding with The Special Event conference and trade show. Learn more at

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