by: Jim C Hamil, Managing Principal
I get questions about event fundraising far more often than one would think. A colleague recently remarked that event fundraising "is so 1970s". In meeting with a potential new partner organization recently, they explained to me how their banquet is great for spreading the word about their organization. I repled "Great! Then have a banquet to get the word out, but don't make it a fundraiser!". I then went on to explain that the same donors who pay for tables can be approached individually to give amounts greater than the price of the table... and you don't have to deduct the amount of the benefit received at the banquet from his gift!
But perhaps my favorite conversation on the subject happened electronically among several colleagues(names/organizations removed):
Hi All, We have had trouble getting our golfers to stay for the dinner/live auction/fund a need portion of our golf events. Any advice or recommendations on how to get the golfers to stay for the evening portion of the event would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Posted Reply #1:
Simple - stop focusing on these labor-intensive, low-yield (if you really calculate the costs) events, and develop a major gift program instead. Seriously. This is fundraising in the 70's. When you net, net, net your proceeds you generally have little to show for you effort. But even if you netted $100,000, think of the time and effort to produce that result when 4 $25,000 would get you the same results. Okay - some institutions cannot live without golf tournaments. But more and more do . . .
Posted Reply #2:
To (replier #1)'s point, we stopped worrying about the fund-raising portion of our athletics golf outing years ago. We still have the outing because our constituents want to get together and interact with our coaches, but we hardly spend the time on it any longer because all we do is set up a course, have a meal, and send people home.
The time we save not chasing down auction items is spent on additional major gift fundraising. So in short, I think it would be best for you to de-emphasize your outing as a fundraising event.
Not one person argued in favor of him keeping his golf tournament as a fundraiser. So, in conclusion, let me reiterate, event fundraising is so 1970s. No need to kill the event, but it might need to be repurposed.
Want to discuss more about how to pull of a great event and how to ask for major donations? Let's talk!