Are you having too many fundraising events?
Love ‘em’ or hate ‘em, fundraising events are a fact of life for most nonprofits.
Here’s the challenge: Fundraising events are our most inefficient way of raising money.
In general, when you consider the true cost of events - many fundraising professionals feel they are not worth it.
Here’s a well-known chart of “cost per dollar raised” for various fundraising strategies. It compares the efficiency of events versus direct mail versus major gifts.
Cost Per Dollar Raised
How much does it cost you to raise a dollar?
(Data comes from James M. Greenfield.)
When you consider fundraising strategies, there are clearly many other much more efficient and profitable ways to raise money.
Let's educate the board and leadership about the true cost of too many fundraising events.
Often board members and volunteers are not familiar with the financial model of event fundraising.
They don't realize fundraising events take up so very much staff time.
Events pull valuable fundraising staffers away from other, far more productive and profitable strategies.
So devoting too much time to events means that you are not deploying your staff resources at their highest and best use.
Every minute a staffer spends on events means that they are not able to call on major donors - where the money really is.
Board members and other leaders are often unfamiliar with -- or personally uncomfortable with -- the other fundraising strategies at our disposal.
Particularly major gifts when we are face to face with donors.
That’s probably why board members too often zero in on EVENTS as the life-saving panacea for fundraising.
Events may be the only thing in their sphere of reference. Or it's their personal preference.
Create an honest conversation with board members:
When is the best time to have a calm and rational conversation about what's working and what's not working?
It's when you're creating your Fundraising Plan for the year.
It's a great time to discuss the smartest ways to raise the money your mission needs. It's a time to suggest that we cut back on events.
That's why I created my Highly Profitable Fundraising Plan Toolkit, - to create a format to plan out the fundraising strategies that are best for your organization.
I included a video module called "The Board Member's Guide to Fundraising Planning," where I discuss the consequences of having too many fundraising events.
The Toolkit can help you put together a plan to maximize staff time and resources, and max out your fundraising potential.
Here are 3 reasons you should DITCH your next event:
1. Events are not very efficient fundraising strategies.
As I've mentioned, the return on investment you get from an event is far less than other fundraising options.
Looking at the chart above, compare the costs of raising money with an event that to a mailing campaign like the annual fund – the cost per dollar raised is only $.25-.30 cents on the dollar.
And the most efficient way to raise money of all is major gifts - when you are developing personal relationships with major donors.
That’s only $.05 -.10 on the dollar.
2. Too many fundraising events wear out your volunteers and staff.
The last thing your hard-working staff needs is another event.
Just consider - many fundraising staffers are working really long hours for not a lot of pay.
They DO want to raise lots of gifts and contributions for your cause. But why ask them to spend so much energy on strategies that have such a low return?
That's when they feel like their time is wasted - when it could be spent so much more productively.
And consider your organization's wonderful, dedicated volunteers. How hard do events work your volunteers?
Let's not run your lovely volunteers ragged either. Or they will abandon you.
3. You can raise more money with one annual event than with 3, 4 or 5 events.
Why? The real money from an event typically comes from sponsorships.
And it takes months to organize a great sponsorship campaign.
You need time to develop sponsorship materials, identify prospects, organize a committee and make the asks.
Then you need the lead time to close the gifts and get the correct names on the invitation.
By having too many events, you never have time to really max out your sponsorship potential. You simply don't have the lead time.
But if you only have one event - then you can focus all your efforts on smart sponsorship fundraising -and really bring in some serious sponsorship funding.
Five benefits of only staging one major event a year:
1.Your volunteers can focus and go all out in spreading the word and generating attendance, because they are only going to work on one a year.
2. You can have the lead time you need to identify, cultivate, and ask sponsors. And, as I noted, that’s where the money is.
3.. You’ll have greater attendance and attention from your supporters.
4. You’ll be able to raise more money overall because the staff now has time to focus on other, more productive and more efficient fundraising strategies.
5. You’ll have a happier and more productive staff.
Bottom Line - Too Many Fundraising Events?
Are YOU having too many fundraising events? At what cost?
Leave a comment and let us know!