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Will Event Supporters Become Annual Fund Donors?

Nonprofit organizations wrestle every few years with the quandary: Should I treat my special event participants as annual fund donor prospects?  If we write a nice appeal letter, won’t they contribute to the annual appeal?

The answer is, typically “no.”  Your community benefit organization attracts people with certain interests to certain activities. Supporters who come out for the 5k walk, the golf tournament, the chili cook-off develop a commitment to the event. There may not be the zeal for your mission that annual fund donors feel. The connection to the event may be more to people they know, whom they have a relationship with, that they like to see each year and maybe compete with to see who will raise the most money. For many event participants, it’s more about the people and the event than it is about the benefit to those you serve.

People who are contributing each year to the annual fund are of a different kettle of fish. They may be older. Their demographic profile is likely quite different from those who fill up your events each year. Think of the way you thank and honor your loyal annual appeal donors; how does this contrast to how you recognize key volunteers and super fund-raisers in your annual walk?

When you sit down with the development committee and discuss this, the differences become apparent to all. But I do recommend that you not give up the ghost on this pursuit.  Summertime is a good time to convene a group of friends of your nonprofit and run through the event participant list together. Perhaps there will be names some of these friends recognize.  Perhaps a special note from a friend might spur the person to add an annual gift over and above the money donated associated with the special event.

You can have a special appeal from annual fund friends to event friends. You can identify a few good prospects from the event lists and do a special prospecting approach to these individuals.  Sending a mass mailing to potentially hundreds of event supporters usually is a waste of resources.  Targeting the better prospects is the way to go.

So, the answer is: Yes. Event Supporters can become Annual Fund Donors. But it depends.

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Will a Special Event Fit for Your Nonprofit?

Special Events can be great ways to mobilize volunteers, engage Facebook followers, build new friends for your nonprofit.  By running an activity that draws in people, is pledge-based and brings significant new net dollars for your mission you can accomplish a number of objectives by producing one event.

How long have you been in business?  If you have a corps of supporters who can be mobilized to raise money for your cause, then a fundraising special event can be just the ticket. Here are some factors to assess to help determine if an event is right or wrong for you:

  • How long have you been in business? If you have a following that will raise money for you: go for it! If you’ve been building momentum with an effective program and a good group of supporters, an event could be right for you.
  • Enough motivated folk for an ad hoc work group? The lead staff person for the event seeks out volunteers from your participant lists who will help shape and organize the event.
  • Yes, but what event exactly?  Convene the ad hoc group (I hesitate establishing a committee) to join you to explore this. Look at two or three nonprofits like you in communities in other States, examine their websites, and see if they do events that seem to fit well.  Also, did you try an event some years back that flopped?  Maybe now that you have more experience and stronger relationships,  it’s time to re-consider what didn’t work a few years back might do well now.
  • How do we plan? Build a time-line, perhaps going six months.  Work backwards from the event. Is it a walk?  A bicycle event?  A breakfast or a gala?  What’s it going to take?  Do we need corporate sponsors to be effective? who has connections to bring this support to us?
  • How do we set a dollar goal? Be realistic. Conservative.  It’s your first time down the chute. How many participants is it realistic to expect?  Will they collect pledges?  Will there be incentives? Who among our vendors do we go to to ask to sponsor this?  What will it cost us to produce this?

Special events can be right for your nonprofit. And, they also can be wrong. Go into this effort in a thoughtful, conservative way. Be sure the board of directors is with you on this. Start the conversation there. Recruit the most enthusiastic to join the work group.  If you have a person with strong marketing and/or communication skills in your neighborhood, recruit her/him. They have skills that can help make this work for you.

As I write this blog, we’re approaching the New Year.  A good time to organize a money-making special event that will take place in summer, 2012. I do recommend at least a six-month time frame to organize then produce a successful event that fits your nonprofit.

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Time to Add a New Special Event?

When nonprofit organizations hit the wall, and revenue goes into decline or remains flat for more than a year, the pressure begins to build. The first thing most boards of directors want to see is adjustments to spending so expenses line up with revenue. This is a good remedy for a short-term problem. But longer term, ongoing expense cuts can undermine the nonprofit’s capacity to deliver the mission.
So. What’s a smart, well-run nonprofit to do in times of lethargic revenue?
First, I recommend that the board have an open discussion about the issue, and if opportunities to raise more $$ haven’t been explored in a strategic way, now’s the time to get busy.
Convene the development committee to assess (re-assess?) the revenue picture. Is there a window in the calendar for a new special event?
And if there isn’t a development committee, the chair works with the executive and fundraising staff (if any) to form an ad hoc group to examine the waterfront and look for an opportunity.
Is there an event that’s generating less than $10,000 a year that has potential for growth? If this event is running out of juice, it’s time to phase it out and replace it with stronger earning potential.
What will the event be? Focus on possibilities that draw on existing expertise of staff, or connections of one or more members of the board. A golf tournament? And if the region you’re in is already super-saturated with golf, what other options can work?
There are lots of walks, runs, bicycle events. If you’re going in this direction, first order of business is to create a calendar with all the existing events in your territory. Is there a natural slot for something new that could generate significant $$ for you?
There used to be loads of celebrity waiter luncheons. Not so much any more. Maybe it’s a good time to bring this back for a few years, if there are potential corporate sponsors for you who will underwrite expenses.
So the answer to the question, “Time to Add a New Special Event?” cannot be properly answered off the top of one or two board members’ heads. It needs to be approached strategically. Apply some good critical thinking skills, assess the terrain, and if conditions look good, go for it!
It’s The Results is here to help you strategize: contact info right on the website. We’re ready to help.

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Time to Add a New Special Event?

When nonprofit organizations hit the wall, and revenue goes into decline or remains flat for more than a year, the pressure begins to build. The first thing most boards of directors want to see is adjustments to spending so expenses line up with revenue. This is a good remedy for a short-term problem. But longer term, ongoing expense cuts can undermine the nonprofit’s capacity to deliver the mission.
So. What’s a smart, well-run nonprofit to do in times of lethargic revenue?
First, I recommend that the board have an open discussion about the issue, and if opportunities to raise more $$ haven’t been explored in a strategic way, now’s the time to get busy.
Convene the development committee to assess (re-assess?) the revenue picture. Is there a window in the calendar for a new special event?
And if there isn’t a development committee, the chair works with the executive and fundraising staff (if any) to form an ad hoc group to examine the waterfront and look for an opportunity.
Is there an event that’s generating less than $10,000 a year that has potential for growth? If this event is running out of juice, it’s time to phase it out and replace it with stronger earning potential.
What will the event be? Focus on possibilities that draw on existing expertise of staff, or connections of one or more members of the board. A golf tournament? And if the region you’re in is already super-saturated with golf, what other options can work?
There are lots of walks, runs, bicycle events. If you’re going in this direction, first order of business is to create a calendar with all the existing events in your territory. Is there a natural slot for something new that could generate significant $$ for you?
There used to be loads of celebrity waiter luncheons. Not so much any more. Maybe it’s a good time to bring this back for a few years, if there are potential corporate sponsors for you who will underwrite expenses.
So the answer to the question, “Time to Add a New Special Event?” cannot be properly answered off the top of one or two board members’ heads. It needs to be approached strategically. Apply some good critical thinking skills, assess the terrain, and if conditions look good, go for it!
It’s The Results is here to help you strategize: contact info right on the website. We’re ready to help.

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Time to Add a New Special Event?

When nonprofit organizations hit the wall, and revenue goes into decline or remains flat for more than a year, the pressure begins to build. The first thing most boards of directors want to see is adjustments to spending so expenses line up with revenue. This is a good remedy for a short-term problem. But longer term, ongoing expense cuts can undermine the nonprofit’s capacity to deliver the mission.
So. What’s a smart, well-run nonprofit to do in times of lethargic revenue?
First, I recommend that the board have an open discussion about the issue, and if opportunities to raise more $$ haven’t been explored in a strategic way, now’s the time to get busy.
Convene the development committee to assess (re-assess?) the revenue picture. Is there a window in the calendar for a new special event?
And if there isn’t a development committee, the chair works with the executive and fundraising staff (if any) to form an ad hoc group to examine the waterfront and look for an opportunity.
Is there an event that’s generating less than $10,000 a year that has potential for growth? If this event is running out of juice, it’s time to phase it out and replace it with stronger earning potential.
What will the event be? Focus on possibilities that draw on existing expertise of staff, or connections of one or more members of the board. A golf tournament? And if the region you’re in is already super-saturated with golf, what other options can work?
There are lots of walks, runs, bicycle events. If you’re going in this direction, first order of business is to create a calendar with all the existing events in your territory. Is there a natural slot for something new that could generate significant $$ for you?
There used to be loads of celebrity waiter luncheons. Not so much any more. Maybe it’s a good time to bring this back for a few years, if there are potential corporate sponsors for you who will underwrite expenses.
So the answer to the question, “Time to Add a New Special Event?” cannot be properly answered off the top of one or two board members’ heads. It needs to be approached strategically. Apply some good critical thinking skills, assess the terrain, and if conditions look good, go for it!
It’s The Results is here to help you strategize: contact info right on the website. We’re ready to help.

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