Events are a staple for many non-profits. In many cases, organizations even raise money by doing these events. I say that with some jocularity. That is the rub, do you really raise money through an event and how do you evaluate that. Many of my colleagues have written about “the formula” for evaluating ROI (return on investment) at events. To be honest, I have in someway recommended many of their articles. None though have made it as simple as the two questions I will pose.
Q1/. What program would not survive without the funding from this event? Does the event that you are putting on cover one thing? Does it pay for your staff enrichment or a core program the organization provides? Does it cover one month of funding necessary to operate the organization. I have worked with many organizations that put on events that do not cover, or mostly cover the least expensive activity of an organization’s mission. You can wear your volunteers and your supporters out by putting on an event that does not even pay for the staff time that was at the event (Add up those hours for set-up, execution, and cleanup for evaluation purposes, eye opening!).
Then what if you did not meet the goal, as Terry Axelrod asks, “What excuse did you give yourself for not meeting or exceeding the goal?”
Finally, could you have cultivated 3 or 4 people in a fraction of the time to plan and gotten the same amount of money.
Q2/. Did you exceed the fundraising target in that month by the amount raised at the event? You have a certain amount of revenue you need each month. In the month your event was held, did you exceed your monthly revenue goal by the amount in the event, or did you barely hit your revenue needs with the amount at the event.
Monthly revenue goal = $100,000
Gala proceeds = $10,000
Total December revenue= $110,000
Answer this question: ACTUAL AMOUTN RAISED IN December A)$110K B)$90K C) $125K ????
Even though they often are, events should not be a shot in the arm. A way to get you caught up on your revenue needs. Events should be the key to your growth and an entry point to your organization. If 40% of people at your event are not new names to your organization, then it is time to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the event. I hear it all the time, “people love our event and we need it for awareness.” If you are not getting new people to your event, then whom are you making aware of your cause/ need/ mission.
As I began, there are many great tools out there through donor management systems and online, like the Fundraising Effectiveness project. As you look at your overall fundraising effectiveness strategy, I urge you to take the time to understand and use these tools. PB&J marComm is here to help should you want to have that conversation. As you start planning that next Gala, Picnic, Walk…stop to ask these two questions. If you choose to move forward, make sure you can positively answer these questions.
I hope this helps you to build solutions and drive results.