Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why change a fundraiser that's working?

Yesterday I asked the question why an organization would want to change a successful fundraising event. Today I offer up a couple of reasons why an organization is missing out on potential fundraising revenue by repeating the same party or format year after year.

You will not get as many repeat attenders, thus limiting your fundraising potential.

I have attended my children's school fundraising event for the past 5 years, and frankly I am tired of attending the same party. I am not the only one either. Individual participation levels drop after attending a couple of years because people have gone, seen and done it all. Mixing up the format, the food and the presentation of the party turns the event into a "must-see" affair. The anticipation of what will be delivered makes things more exciting and makes the party attendance exclusive. Want to sell out the seats at your next fundraiser, change it all up!

You cripple the real strengths and talents of the current community.

Every year an organization exists, it changes. Familial circumstances change, individual job responsibilities change, and the mere influx of new people arriving and former people leaving creates a new group of skill sets becoming available for a fundraising effort. Why would you work someone else's party plan that leverages their likes, dislikes and skill sets? Current organizational leaders for each area of the fundraiser should have the leeway to make changes that incorporate new ideas and approaches.

Vendors change over time.

Using the same vendors year after year limits your ability to deliver value and quality to your guests. Businesses change constantly, and when it comes to party planning, the Food and Beverage industry changes at light speed. People might argue that a specific vendor provided an amazing discount for the services provided and that they continue to honor that discount today. I would say that any one vendor isn't the only vendor that will provide discounts for fundraisers. It's not easy to go out and find new vendors every year for a party, but it might be worth the effort if you are able to capture more of your target community at the event. Oh, and by the way, any vendor would be lucky to have exposure at your event!

People will pay to be entertained, and once they are having a great time, the fundraising follows...

Yes, build it and they will come. People love a good party, and if you put on a good party, your fundraising goals will be met. You will still need to structure the party to provide many giving opportunities throughout the evening, but as the party moves on, people become more and more generous. Party-goer engagement, connection to the cause and a great night goes a long way.

It is easy to write that a volunteer corps should shake up a party and formats for their fundraiser, and quite another thing to do it. In the final installment of this post, I offer a case study on one aspect of our real-life fundraiser that shows how to translate a very successful giving opportunity into something brand new. Do you have examples to share of how something used repeatedly was "freshened up" with a new approach? Please post it below.

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