Why Do People Spend So Much Time on Special Events?


Nov 27, 2013 | Programming & Outreach

They Bring in Cash.

Do you know the real cost of raising money from special events? On average it’s fifty cents on the dollar – and some organizations don’t count staff time in that cost. They should! What does it cost to raise a major gift when counting all the staff hours? Usually fewer than 25 cents on the dollar and hopefully fewer than 10 cents. And bequest and planned gifts usually cost fewer than five cents.

They are press worthy and bring you clients.

Is the press about the event or the good work your organization does every day? Does it advance your mission? If you have a golf tournament, how many of those players (the guests of the sponsors) ever send a parent to your program or use your rehab program themselves? Be honest.

Who is writing the brochures and planning the program at the event, the sales team for your organization or the fundraisers and/or volunteers? They should include the organization’s key marketing points. If SageAge is doing your marketing, do we have the opportunity to also craft the special event materials, releases and event presentations to have a consistent brand look and message about the organization?

That’s what our organization has always done.

If revenue from census is the number one priority for your organization, why spend the CEO’s and so many others’ time on a special event if all the folks in the room are not prospects to move in or move their loved ones in? If you have a strong people-person in development, would her time and cost be better spent on cultivating families to move in?

Special Events Build Loyalty.

In truth, special events rarely are the building blocks for major donor cultivation. If you have a dinner, do you have a chance to really get to know people and tie their interests to your mission? Or is the dialogue all from the podium? Do you have table captains who report back to you on each person, why they came, and how they are connected to the organization? Then does someone call them after the event, thank them for attending and further the relationship?

If you are honoring someone very important to your organization, and that will translate into a major gift or gifts, the event could be worthwhile. But remember that the goal is not the $5K from the event, but the $100,000 from her. You’d plan, run and follow-up after the event very differently if you focus on the real goal.

It’s what volunteers want to do.

Are your volunteers comfortable running events, but they say they can’t ask for donations to an annual fund or capital campaign? Do you have the right volunteers? Have you done cultivation and solicitation training with your board members and key volunteers? Think about the energy put into a major dinner, auction or 10 K run. What if you took that same time and passion of key staff and volunteers and put it into cultivating a few major prospects for larger annual fund gifts that could lead to capital gifts and/or planned gifts? This is what many progressive organizations are doing.

A Better Way.

Before you undertake a dramatic new direction, look at your strategic plan. Think about developing a strategic plan for fund development. Consider an audit of your development office. Examine your annual fund goals, methods and results. Focus on a bequest program. Special events may be a part of your plan, but they may become less and less important as you develop multi-year, annual fund programs; a solid bequest program and a strong major gift effort.

Contact us today to learn more about SageAge Strategies’ expanded Fund Development Services

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