I love this article from Nonprofit Quarterly (root source AFP). I’m not a fan of special event fundraising because I don’t think many of us use these events to our advantage.
The article asks: Are special events an efficient way to raise money? Or are we addicted to them — in a bad way? Special Events – Are They an Addiction? – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly.
I am usually the person who pushes to dismantle golf outing fundraisers and question your Gala. They are expensive ways to raise money and inefficient at sharing the good work your agency is doing. The best argument to keep the dreaded golf event is that it’s a way to recruit male donors. I get it, the rationale is valid, but the practice is flawed.
- How many of the people who attend your special event fall in love with your agency’s mission and become loyal donors outside of that event?
You don’t know? Did you follow up with them after the event with a phone call? Did you collect contact information from the participants (and not just the purchaser of the group’s tickets)?
Break the addiction: start using events to your advantage
Nonprofits absolutely need feeder systems to find new people to become donors. And special events can be this mechanism — if you use them that way.
This means you need a plan for how you’re going to get to know the people in attendance and how you’re going to talk about your work during the event. You also need a plan for engaging those people after the event is over. This is the worthwhile, time consuming work of a special event.
Because this work is time-consuming, you will have to evaluate how many special events you run. If you find you don’t have time to follow up with people, then you should consider eliminating special events.