Constituent Engagement, Events

My Love-Hate Relationships With Events

I’m going to be brutally honest; I detest fundraising events. Seriously, they are truly AWFUL for the people executing them! Events have the lowest ROI compared to all other fundraising strategies. It takes about $0.50 to raise a dollar. Plus, to execute a spectacular event, your staff and volunteers have to work an overwhelming amount of hours. Why would you want to burn out your staff and lose dedicated volunteers by hosting event after event, especially when there is such a low return? It doesn’t make sense.

BUT…the thing is (and it really pains me to write this), your organization needs just one (no more, no less), good event a year. The fundraising component of the event is secondary; you need to look at the event as a means to establish and solidify your organization’s brand. By being strategic and creative, you can create an experience that will provide maximum impact for your nonprofit.

If you are a nonprofit who hosts multiple fundraising events a year, please take the time to conduct an events audit. What this entails is gathering data about each of the fundraising events you put on in a given fiscal year:

  • Date of the event
  • How long does it take to prepare for the event (such as 6 weeks or 6 months)
  • # of staff hours (planning, implementation, and post-event)
  • # of volunteer hours
  • Dollars raised
  • Expense cost
  • Feedback from attendees, staff, and volunteers

Once you have conducted the audit, analyze the data and look at your ROI. If you find that the ROI for the events are low (and I am willing to bet that it is), it is time to transition into one annual branding event and focus more time on cultivating major donors. I would suggest keeping one of your events, one that has a higher ROI than the others. However, if you’re one of the few organizations where the ROI is high, and staff and volunteers enjoy the work they put forth for the event, there isn’t a reason to change things up.

If your organization has never hosted a branding event, I would suggest implementing an event that can truly brand your organization and gives attendees a glimpse at your mission in action. The key is to get new people to your organization so that you can cultivate them to become dedicated stakeholders. These individuals found you because of the hype of the event and the more you can build upon the anticipation, the better.

If you have questions on conducting an Events Audit or you would like to learn more about implementing a Branding Event for your organization, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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