In the first installment of an occasional series, we’re happy to present our new feature called The Influencers. From time to time, we’ll profile people who make the Austin events and fundraising world go around. Think event chairs, producers, floral and lighting designers, caterers, philanthropists, volunteers, publicists and nonprofit executives. You know…all the people it takes to pull off an event!
Our first participants are The Nobelity Project‘s Christy and Turk Pipkin, (nonprofit founders, filmmakers, philanthropists, writers, producers) who this weekend will bring their Feed The Peace Awards Dinner to the Four Seasons Austin. The annual dinner features well known artists, actors and musicians as table hosts, plus a concert following dinner. For 2014, the sold-out event will feature singer-songwriter Ben Harper. We took a moment to speak with Christy Pipkin about The Nobelity Project, the fundraiser, and events in Austin.
Austin Social Planner: How many years have you called Austin home?
Christy Pipkin: I am native born! I spent some of my childhood in Washington DC, and married life in Los Angeles. Turk arrived from West Texas in 1972 and has been traveling the world ever since. But Austin was always home.
ASP: How did you get involved with local fundraising and events?
CP: Turk and I worked in film and event production for years before we founded The Nobelity Project in 2005. We have gotten to put all that experience to use in our own fundraising efforts.
ASP: Tell us about your most memorable moment at a fundraising event, in Austin or elsewhere.
CP: While honoring Kris Kristofferson at our Feed the Peace awards last year, he stopped the show and offered a house concert to the highest bidder. Needless to say the crowd yet wild, and when we thought it was all over he said he’d do two! We were speechless.
ASP: What are your tips to ensure your events are a success?
CP: We have a very small dedicated staff and group of volunteers that really knows what needs to be done. We all work very hard but count on each other to get things right.
ASP: How important is the selection of food, drinks and entertainment to the success of an event?
CP: I think that is pretty critical. You are asking people to pay a lot for their tickets, so they shouldn’t have to eat rubber chicken! That is one reason we always come back to the Four Seasons. And we are very fortunate to have wonderfully talented friends who believe in our work, and so the entertainment is always amazing.
ASP: What’s your advice for people who want to get involved in our local philanthropic and events scene?
CP: Buy a ticket if you can! And if you can’t volunteer-especially for the unglamorous jobs–cleaning up at the end, or delivering auction items, or picking up people at the airport. It all needs to be done and the key staff loves the help!
ASP: What is your ritual for a big gala or event day?
CP: We work our butts off on set-up and rehearsal, then I try to get a shower and a few minutes to be by myself before the guests arrive. And I don’t have a drink until it’s all over. But then the shoes come off!
ASP: What is your favorite Austin locale for an event?
CP: Well, I am partial to The Four Seasons, but I just went to a fantastic wedding at Brazos Hall. And the KUTX party on the stage at McCollough Theater was sort of fun. The Umlauf is gorgeous, Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park remind me of being a kid here. But, hey, you’re in Austin! You sort of can’t go wrong!
About The Nobelity Project:
The Nobelity Project amplifies the impact of our community partners by telling their stories and funding critical needs. By supporting education, health, and conservation initiatives around the world, we reach thousands of young people and their families every day. Whether building schools and libraries in Kenya, a bookmobile in Honduras, or planting trees in Bastrop Texas, The Nobelity Project is working for a better way.