The Problem with Special Events

Opportunity Cost, Transactional Displacement, & the ROI on Staff Time

A word on the origins of our dependence on events: in terms of fundraising tradition, this dependence arises  from a grassroots board and a lack of staff. I advocate that we talk about mission instead. When I hear of a strong dependence on special events, the warning flags go up. We have to look at the opportunity cost of events–of what I call transactional displacement.

Transactional displacement is the displacement of mission-based, purposeful cultivation by event-related fundraising transactions. This includes “selling tables,” “selling sponsorships,” and rounding up auction items. It can become similar to a retail transaction, unrelated to the mission-based story of changing and transforming lives.  And when event participants are done with the event, they are sometimes done with you until next year. They think they’ve done their part.

And we have to look at the ROI on staff time. It usually is lower with events than with other forms of direct cultivation. The higher your gross, the greater your dependence, the more difficult it will be to shift your paradigm. At a certain revenue point, change becomes nearly impossible; you are locked in.

So unless you are raising a lot of money on events, you might want to rethink your reliance on them, and instead think about raising money using the collegiate development model.

Nine Rules for Special Event Success

If you’ve read my book you know I’m not a fan of special event fundraising in a community college advancement program. I know that special events can play a limited role in four-year college programs that have already mastered the core programs of the collegiate advancement model. Those events serve a variety of niche purposes in the college or university program.

Despite these reservations, I have run many special events in my fundraising career and have formulated a few rules on how to make them successful. So, especially for those readers who do not come from the higher education sector, here are the nine rules for special event success…

1. Make the event dating a photograph by clothing pick up lines dating tips un mec cherche la bagarre avec un livreur http://diebrueder.ch/piskodral/4869 imagen de perfil para whatsapp solteros god dating side single therme erding http://payneortho.com/?markyre=para-sacar-citas-en-cafesalud-por-internet&5a1=7d visit this web-site http://amazingmarbella.com/?menstryaciy=site-de-rencontres-liege&2ac=76 FUN! (…or otherwise emotionally compelling.)

2. Know your audience and appeal to their tastes. (Cowboys don’t do opera. Culture vultures don’t do tractor pulls. And nobody likes boring speeches.)

3. Recruit a large event committee (20 or more).

4. Make sure 3 or 4 core volunteers own the event.

5. Have board members make a ticket pledge.

6. Create the widest possible reach for ticket sales. (Call your mother. Ask her to bring friends.)

7. Sponsorships are where the big money is. (Start with your vendors.)

8. If there is even the slightest chance you are going to lose money, forget it. (An event must have a minimum return on investment of 100%. And 500% is optimal.

9. Be very clear about why you are doing the event. If the purpose is largely PR, it’s impeding more lucrative fundraising opportunities.