Everyone loves to attend a charity event – have a great time and feel good about the money they are spending – but we’ve all heard about charity events that lose money for nonprofits. Read on about how to host an event that actually fund raises, instead of just friend raises!
Regardless of the type of event, have a host committee. A host committee is simply a group of volunteer leaders in the community that commits to selling tickets, spreading the word, or involving their company in the event somehow. This is a simple way to grow your outreach and give credibility to the event. Think strategically about whom you put on your host committee and keep their responsibilities to a minimum. It is also important to empower them by providing the marketing materials they need.
Incorporate an honored guest. From golf tournaments, to evening galas, to wine tastings, you can always find a way to honor a special individual. This might be a volunteer who has gone above and beyond, or a community leader, but be sure to honor someone whose network is different than yours and who is willing to get a significant number of guests to the event. This is a prime opportunity to grow your reach, connect with new supporters in a unique and non-threatening way, and publicly align any new initiatives with strategic partners.
Find other ways to generate revenue from ALL guests. There are two sources of attendees that are often overlooked as ways to grow revenue – one, those who are guests of table sponsors, and two, those who can’t attend. Include donate buttons on all materials. Make sure your electronic and printed collateral gives guests an opportunity to RSVP that they can’t attend but still make a donation. Offer electronic tribute journal messages and printed program ads for those who can’t join and get contact information for all attendees, even as a guest of a sponsor, so you can send them all the ways they can support the event in advance (like a Charity Buzz or Bidding For Good auction). Guests of sponsors often are the biggest donors at the actual event so also don’t forget to “ask”–make your appeal short and impactful.
There are also a few pitfalls that nonprofits frequently fall into. These can be costly mistakes that make the event net negative. The following are a few tips of what to avoid when planning your next event.
Do the math on everything. The opportunity cost of staff time is a big issue that is often overlooked. Many times, event management requires significant staff resources, pulling them away from higher ROI activities.
Avoid creating ceremonial volunteer committees. Volunteer committees should be for individuals that want to volunteer to help your nonprofit. If possible, a peer volunteer should hold them accountable and help to lead the group. When managed well (have clear expectations from the outset, are well-resourced with the materials they need, and have a clear point of contact to staff to channel feedback), volunteer committees can be one of your greatest resources for a well-attended, net positive event.
Forgetting the post-event thank you. Don’t forget to thank guests after the event and stay in touch. Events are a great way to build your database. Research your new and prospective donors, and create specific cultivation moves for them. This is a great way to put your mission in front of them again, and another chance to convert them into annual, if not major, donors.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.