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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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