Special Events Manager

First Stage

Founded in 1987, First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee.

First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through:

  • Professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain;
  • Unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and
  • Dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community.

First Stage strives to be the national leader and driving force behind the creation of the best and most innovative plays for family audiences, theater training programs for young people, and education initiatives for our schools and our community. These three interwoven programming pillars are accessible to, and reflective of, our increasingly diverse community. Through our exceptional leadership, dedicated team, and commitment to financial sustainability, First Stage will broaden the reach and deepen the impact of our transformational programs, thus enabling dreams to be fulfilled, hope to be fostered, and families to enjoy the lasting legacy of a profound shared experience.


Position Details

Special Events Manager
Southeast Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI

The Special Events Manager will lead all aspects of First Stage’s fundraising, cultivation and stewardship events with the goal of increasing income from current fundraising events, researching possible new revenue-generating opportunities, and supporting community events. The Special Events Manager will play a key role in developing and deepening relationships with donors and champions in the Milwaukee area and beyond.

Signature Events: (Make Believe Ball & Wine Tasting & Dinner)

  • Plan and execute all necessary details for two signature events proactively and with detail by leading all aspects of events including;
  • management of volunteers and committees, event logistics, sponsorship coordination, live and silent auctions, raffles, etc…;
  • Work in collaboration with Development Director, Grants Manager, Annual Campaign & Development Database Manager, Development Interns, First Stage staff and volunteer committees to execute all elements of First Stage’s events and ensure fundraising goals are met; Organize and facilitate event committees; Serve as contact person for volunteers, venue, creative team, staff, etc.;
  • Serve as primary contact and negotiate contract for Venue, Mobile Bidding Software, auctioneer, etc…;
  • Research and develop event sites, and train staff on virtual event platforms and mobile bidding software;
  • Develop and implement event timelines and budgets;
  • Support committee members and volunteers in solicitation efforts through acquiring and maintaining auction databases, guest and sponsor prospect databases, prospect and attendee research;
  • Track event reservations and oversee event communication, including pre-event information and follow up survey;
  • Work with Annual Campaign & Development Database Manager to ensure accurate entry in Tessitura, invoicing and acknowledgement;
  • Work with Development Director to optimize Corporate support;
  • Work with Marketing team to create a cohesive marketing, promotion, and collateral design plan for all special events.

Other Events:

  • Fundraisers/Cultivation Events: Manage event logistics of various fundraisers/friend-raisers—including ImpACT Event and Grandparents Brunch; and possibly develop new events as the need arises;
  • Stewardship Events: Manage event logistics of Stewardship events, with support from Development Director and Annual Campaign & Development Database Manager;
  • Corporate Events: Assist Corporate Donors with special events at the theater, or otherwise, as they relate to sponsor benefits;
  • Bard-o-thon: Work with Young Company Director to support the Bard-o-thon; including setting goals, encouraging students and providing fundraising information, setting up fundraiser profiles in fundraising platform, supporting the final presentation, as needed;
  • Assist Marketing department with creation of event websites and event marketing/press efforts.

UPAF Coordination:

  • Performers/speakers events: Work with team to identify young performers and assist them in preparing their performance materials;
  • Set up the First Stage UPAF Ride for the Arts team;
  • UPAF Internal Campaign: Lead coordination of First Stage’s workplace giving campaign for UPAF donations;
  • Serve as contact for speaking engagements, ticket requests, special performances and management of volunteers.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Be an active and engaged team member in supporting the overall Development Team goals;
  • Work with Development Team on the Annual Impact Report and triannual Donor Newsletter;
  • Work with team members to identify, cultivate and steward donors;
  • Participate in development meetings and provide agenda items, as needed;
  • Attend monthly all staff meetings;
  • Provide support for task forces and special projects, as needed;
  • Oversee special event intern or provide tasks for general development intern, as needed;
  • Attend show previews and openings and various afterhours meetings, as needed;
  • Other duties, as assigned.

The most successful candidate will have some experience managing a large event, and if not as a fundraiser, will have experience in a leadership position that requires high attention to detail, budgeting and negotiating, creating and maintaining a timeline, meeting deadlines and exceeding goals.

This individual will use creativity and effective communication and collaboration skills to lead committees and staff; be self-motivated with a desire for continuing education; have a passion for theater arts and arts education; and demonstrate a commitment to being a positive force in the organization.

  • Experience in fundraising event leadership or similar management position;
  • Must be accurate and precise with a high attention to detail;
  • Ability to manage and organize multiple projects in a fast-paced environment;
  • Ability to prioritize responsibilities and meet deadlines;
  • General understanding of fundraising process;
  • Advanced proficiency in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook;
  • Experience working in databases;
  • Ability to work with a diverse group of staff, students and volunteers;
  • Demonstrated interpersonal skills - ability and willingness to collaborate with community members, businesses, and staff members;
  • Ability to clearly communicate verbally and in writing—as it relates to delegating tasks and collaborating with others;
  • Open to working occasional evenings and weekends, as needed;
  • Driver’s License or Access to public or reliable transportation;
  • Most of this job requires sedentary work, but you will be required to lift up to 25 up to chest occasionally and may need to kneel, squat or twist occasionally;
  • Ability to pass a background check in accordance with state and/or Federal laws.

First Stage offers a mission you can stand behind, excellent benefits and a positive work environment. First Stage provides a competitive benefit package that includes but is not limited to the following: year-round health/dental/vision coverage, generous healthcare reimbursement arrangement, life insurance, short term and long term disability as well as a 403(b) plan. Salary is commensurate with experience, ranging from $30,000-$35,000.

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