The biggest question I get from nonprofits I meet, “What is the biggest contributing factor to the success of a fundraising event?” And I would answer, “Managing time and focusing on a strategy plan that gives you and your team the most amount of time to properly steward and garner sponsorships.”
It’s very easy to get distracted from the “important” tasks at hand when planning a fundraising event. You have so many details when it comes to creating the experience, emails, phone calls, changes orders, clarifications with vendors; and the list goes on. And what happens is the focus on the most important aspect of a fundraising event, building relationships, gets left behind. And, if you’re not a seasoned fundraiser or you simply find it uncomfortable to ask for money, focusing on the event experience is much more appealing.
I find this happens quite often when I work with fundraising event committees. The organization invites members of the community to sit on their committee to help them “raise more money.” The individuals have a sphere of influence that is impressive. Their sphere has the capacity to give and would be a great asset to the organization if they got involved with your organization. However, once the committee forges ahead, the conversations turn to decorations, entertainment, food, and other details that don’t help build relationships. Why? It’s much easier! It’s important to ensure committee members are proud of the experience the organization is creating, after all, their names appear on the marketing materials and they don’t want to be embarrassed at the event.
Keeping your committee focused and giving them the time to focus on the “relationships” is key to success. Create agendas for your committee meetings. Don’t focus on elements of the event that don’t raise money. Only focus the discussions on building relationships, asking for sponsorships and uncovering opportunities to raise more money at your event. I recommend you have one short discussion about the “look and feel” of the event to gain approvals and give your committee members confidence that the experience is going to be fantastic.
When it comes to your fundraising team, find opportunities to “free up” time away from the expenditures of the event and focus their energy and time on garnering sponsorships, table sales, and tickets to your event. When we work with clients to create an experience for them, our team takes all of those details away from the fundraising team so they can focus on building relationships and selling more sponsorships. What happens each and every time is extraordinary. Our clients are raising more money well before the event takes place, in some cases more than 50% over the previous year! The time taken away from the event planning details allows the development staff to do so much more to steward and raise so much more money. Plus, they have the time to keep their committee members happy and focused.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of the “experience.” Creating something that will attract the right audience, standout in the community and showcase your organization’s unique brand, are all still extremely important to build the event year after year, however keeping a strategic focus on fundraising is paramount to event success. Look at your talent pool and find ways to nurture skills that will keep the team focused on fundraising. Give your team the opportunity to learn best practices in producing an event by attending event strategy classes. Develop a team that understands the proper allocation of time when it comes to planning a fundraising event.
If you’re looking for development opportunities, check out my upcoming event strategy classes. Attendees who attend are finding great success in implementing my simple seven-step strategies to event success. Or, find an expert in your area that can help you with your event experience tasks to free up more time and raise more money for your upcoming fundraising events.