Nominations are now open for the 12th Annual EEAs!
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Most Innovative People in Events 2020: Dana Arsenault

The Vancouver-based event pro embraced the industry's shift to virtual. The result? An online fundraiser that raised $8.2 million for women's cancer research and treatments.

Most Innovative People in Events 2020: Dana Arsenault, BC Cancer Foundation
Headshot: Matdivad Photography

The Basics: Dana Arsenault is the associate director of special events for BC Cancer Foundation. A graduate of The Art Institute of Vancouver where she studied event management, Arsenault's admiration for and dedication to the event industry has remained a top priority. From wearing many hats within the International Live Events Association's (ILEA) Vancouver chapter organization (think vice president of marketing and sponsorship and vice president of membership, to name a couple) to becoming a certified special events coordinator through Tourism HR Canada, the go-getter hasn't stopped climbing the ladder. Since 2013, she's been with BC Cancer Foundation, the fundraising partner of BC Cancer based in Vancouver, where she helms some of the nonprofit's biggest fundraising events.

BC Cancer Foundation Virtual Inspiration Gala 2020For BC Cancer Foundation's Virtual Inspiration Gala, held on Nov. 7, Arsenault's team sent attendees curated gift boxes to add to the experience. The pink-themed box included goodies from local vendors such as Cocktails & Canapés Catering, Vina Carmen, and Voluspa Candles.Photo: Butter Studios Agency2020 Highlight Reel: One of Arsenault's biggest challenges this year? Shifting the nonprofit's largest signature event, the Inspiration Gala, to a virtual platform. Spoiler alert: She accomplished it with flying colors.

With hopes of matching the success of the in-person 2019 gala, which raised $3 million and welcomed 500 guests, Arsenault and her team's expert event skills led to the Virtual Inspiration Gala exceeding expectations and raising an astounding $8.2 million to benefit women's cancer research and treatments. "The gala was a huge success, despite having to shift to virtual because of the collaboration with our front-line fundraisers," she says. "The Fund-A-Need portion of our event is a really important in-person element, with a lot of energy in the room. In order to ensure our virtual Fund-A-Need would be a success, we worked collaboratively with people across the foundation to develop a targeted strategy to secure all levels of gifts and educate our donors leading up to the event. This allowed us to create a high energy, virtual Fund-A-Need with gifts popping up on the screen constantly."

She adds, "Every element of the event was strategically planned to ensure guest connection, including our emcee and having her name specific guests and reference how everyone can still connect through the stories they’re hearing, even if it’s not in person."

Event Philosophy: "None of us can do this alone; collaboration and gratitude are the necessities for a successful event."

Goals for the Future: Heading into a new year, which hopefully holds a fresh start for the industry, Arsenault says her goals for the future include "expanding our capacity to raise vital funds for cancer research, and continue to break records and innovate how we bring engaging events to our donors in a way that inspire them to dig deep and give more!"

Back to the Most Innovative People in Events 2020 list, sponsored by Pathable