Many nonprofit organizations and institutions rely on revenue from special events. If you check any calendar of events you will find many to choose from: 5k and 10k runs and walks; galas with dinner, dancing and awards; concerts; luncheons with nationally recognized speakers. With strong competition for the philanthropic dollar we want to help you make sure your event is on track for success. Here are five objectives for your consideration.
Your event should create awareness for your organization; serve as an avenue for involvement; expand your donor base; create excitement and “buzz” for your nonprofit; and last but not least, it should generate in-kind services and financial support.
If you focus on these during the planning process you can improve your outcomes – and net revenue. We want to save you the agony of having to claim “we didn’t make any money, but it was a PR success.”
Yes, raising awareness is an important objective in hosting a special event. But so is the opportunity to involve new people with your organization. When planning take the time to explore how you can turn your event into one that is “volunteer led” instead of “staff driven.” Invite volunteers into the planning process so they are involved from the beginning and feel a sense of pride and ownership. If you are bold enough you can even let volunteers take the lead!
When crafting the invitation list, remember to reach out to people beyond your current donor list. Appealing to the same people too often can result in donor fatigue, and your organization may lose some of its appeal. Use the event as an opportunity to expand your donor base. Creating an event that appeals to a diverse audience is one way to engage new donors. Making your event unique and “out-of-the-box” can also draw new donors. And people will associate it with your organization. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. But you do have to get the word out: develop a marketing strategy that targets multiple audiences.
Finally, make sure you have enough time and resources to produce an event that will yield the maximum return on your investment of time and money. Adequate lead time means you can secure sponsors to cover production costs and provide in-kind resources that reduce expenses. When the event is over you need to look your team members in the eye and answer the pivotal question: “are the dollars generated worth the time and energy you put into the event?” Keep all five objectives before you and you should be able to answer with a resounding “YES!”
Copyright 2016– Mel and Pearl Shaw
For help growing your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.
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