Party for a Party’s Sake

This post is part of a series on non-profit events. From time to time I will have guest authors write in on topics they have an expertise in. Thank you Brenda for taking the time to share some of your thoughts and advice on non-profit events.- Jason

When staff members get together to talk about donor recognition, increasing revenue and finding creative ways to reach new donors, usually one of the first ideas on the table is to have an ‘event.’ But, is a reception, lunch, ground breaking ceremony, auction or dinner what you need? These things can be done well and reach your key audience, but there are pitfalls and drawbacks you want to consider carefully and be careful to avoid.

In planning events, it is important to avoid letting the tail wag the dog. First, decide what your need is. (We need to have a donor event is NOT a legitimate need!) Your need should be defined in terms of moving your fundraising objectives forward. Let’s say your organization wants to draw attention to the opening of its new housing facility for victims of domestic violence. Which donors or groups of donors need attention and what has been done to communicate your message so far? You may not be able to design one event that is the best solution for every group. Better to have a clearly defined message and defined measures of success for one group than an event that invites everyone, but doesn’t advance your objective. Sometimes, an event is NOT what you need. You may be able to get the same results with visits or other techniques. The worst thing you can do is spend money for a party and then find that your event didn’t attract your core audience and you spent your time and money on fancy hors d’oeuvres for staff.

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