Fundraising Events: Are They Worth It?
Had he went ahead and tried to put on this event, he would have failed miserably.
Now, I realize this is just one little story to highlight the fact that I dislike fundraising events and feel for the most part they are absolutely worthless for raising net revenue, but over the last several weeks I've been confronted by organizations that are struggling with their event strategies.
For one of these organizations, I was reviewing its major-gifts caseloads and noticed that three years ago a number of donors had made significant gifts yet in the subsequent years their total was nearly zero. I asked what happened.
"Well, we had a big event that year and a number donors gave, but then that was it. We couldn't get them to give again."
I asked how much net revenue the event brought in. Their eyes looked toward the floor, "Well, not much. It was pretty expensive. And a lot of our donors were pretty mad that we held such a fancy event."
Then, there is this other organization I was talking with that has what I would call an events superstructure. The culture of its development department is essentially "all events, all the time." It boasts how the events team brings in about $6 million a year in revenue.
So, then I started digging a little more. Of that $6 million, how much of that revenue comes from donors that are on a caseload? I mean, this is revenue you are going to get regardless of putting on an event or not. And when you deduct that revenue from caseload donors, how much net revenue do you actually end up with? The answer was embarrassingly little.
Actually, when I talked to a few of the major-gifts officers (MGOs), they were complaining that some of their donors who they were cultivating for large six-figure gifts gave less because they happened to sponsor a $20,000 table instead. They were really frustrated.
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If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.