Why We Should Reconsider Event #3

Commentary with Kirkwoman-with-too-much-work

We're told that less is sometimes more and when it comes to a third fundraising event (or 4th or 5th), we need to think critically about its benefits and possible consequences to our long-term funding success.

So why not have a discussion? Let's look at questions and answers, and see if we can find some ground to stand on when we are questioned about whether a third event is always needed or necessary:

If we are going to build our budget, our third event is necessary. Look what we would lose if we eliminated this fundraiser!
Generally this third event means we have either two events in the spring (January through May) or two in the fall (September through mid-November). Because events rarely occur in the summer or in the Christmas season, having two events in either spring or fall means that we are going to have a season where we are constantly in "event" mode.

This is not to say that we always eliminate a third event. We do however, need to look at this event in light of whether it is actually advancing our overall fundraising plan. Keep in mind: Every minute spent on a third event is time not spent on other revenue enhancing projects.

We already have a third event. If we are going to drop one of our events, how do we choose which one goes?
To answer this question, let's throw out a principle. Unless an event is raising a significant percentage of your overall revenue, we must improve it or remove it. The word "significant" will have different meanings for different organizations. Here is a rough idea:

Less than $100,000 An event must raise at least 15% of your budget.
$100,000—$200,000 Events must raise at least 10-15% of your budget. Minimum: $15,000
$200,000—$500,000 Events must raise at least 10% of your budget. Minimum: $25,000
$500,000+ Events must raise at least 10% of your budget. Minimum: $25,000

If we are not reaching these rough benchmarks, we either need to fix these events, or get rid of them as they are eating up one of our most vital resources: Time.

My guess is that if we look at each of our three events, we will find one that falls close to these numbers and needs a good look.

One caveat: If your banquet is falling below our suggested numbers, choose this one to fix. A fundraising dinner should be your strongest overall event; if it is not, there is great room to grow.

How do we replace the lost revenue?
Most of our ministries miss opportunities in two areas: Monthly Support and Major Gifts. By shifting our focus toward building these two revenue streams, we might find a long-term, foundational increase in funding.

For instance, adding 25 monthly supporters over the course of a year (at about $40 per monthly gift) adds $1000 per month or $12,000 each year . . . And this will only increase in years to come as we add more supporters.

Consider major gifts, too. If we create a strong strategic plan (For the coming 3-5 years) and show a major supporter specific ways a major gift will be utilized, we will see these friends of the ministry respond.

What if we took the time we spend on that third event and met with one major supporter each month and asked for a gift of say, $5,000, what might happen? We are told that when we get to know someone who can make a major gift and truly build a relationship, when we make a reasonable, well-thought-out ask, the odds of a gift are more than 80%. At an average major gift of $5,000 then, twelve meetings would, in one year, likely mean some $50,000 in funding.

Different centers will see varying results, certainly. But perhaps we need to shift our thinking from "event" to "let's simply lay out a major vision and ask."

Should we always seek to eliminate a third event?
No, we're not giving a hard and fast rule here. We do however, want to help us consider whether a third event is necessary to move toward a higher income figure.

On the other side of this, many centers have a third event that is totally unrelated to other events and in fact, reaches a different group of people. A golf event is a good example here. Some ministries are raising $50,000, $75,000 and more through golf events—completely separately from banquets, walks, baby bottle campaigns and other events.

The point? A third event is not automatically "bad," but we do need to make sure it is a significant fundraising avenue. And as we look at three events, let's make sure we do not lose focus on our other revenue streams.

by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

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