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Events — February 4, 2014 at 9:28 am

Event Brainstorming: 6 Key Factors in Choosing Your Next Event

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Events can be a huge windfall or a pain to put together, sometimes both, but they all start with one thing: an idea. Today we’re going to help your brainstorming by pointing you to Wellspring’s 101 Fundraising Ideas. But before you head over there, here are some things to think about when choosing a theme for your event:

1. Inclusivity – Too many charity events are only available to the rich and the golf aficionados. This isn’t to say that you can’t cater your event to the affluent, but don’t overlook an event that will invite people in larger numbers. A $50/monthly donor will bring in over $1,000 in two years, so don’t ignore one kind of donor for the other.

2. Cost/Profit – Pay close attention to the profit margin of your event as you’re planning it. Set three predictions based on as many indicators as you can find: a reasonable expectation, 25% more than that expectation and 25% less. Will you make enough profit if you bring in less than expected? Also, don’t ignore an expensive event if there is a strong likelihood that you will bring in more money as a result of it.

3. Cause alignment – Make sure your event isn’t in conflict with your cause. If you’re raising money to feed the hungry, a pricey catered dinner is probably not the right choice. And if you can choose an event that matches your cause thematically that’s even better. For example, Dalit Freedom Network hosts an annual event in support of Dalit Women that includes a traditional Indian dinner and an on-site henna artist.

4. Time commitment – If you work for a charity, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re busy all the time. How big of an event do you realistically think you and your staff would be able to pull off? Do you even have time to put on an event? It might be a better choice to hire an event coordinator or an event hosting company. Spending a few bucks up front can result in a bigger success overall.

5. Achievability – I know you want to dream big. You have this great idea for an event that will raise thousands for your cause. But can you pull it off? There’s room for big dreams, but you also have to be realistic. Weigh the risk/reward of achieving your goal, and lean toward the risk-averse. If you need to spend more up front that’s fine, but don’t roll the dice on your charity event. Aim for something that is achievable.

6. Sharing Opportunity – Choose an event that will give you ample opportunity to share the story of your cause. If you’re just raising money without connecting people to your story, it will probably be the last time you hear from them. But if your event allows for a lot of one-on-one conversations– between you and your supporters and better yet between your loyal supporters/volunteers and new ones– it will have a lasting effect.

Bonus: Our favourite ideas from Wellspring’s 101 Fundraising Ideas list:

  • Board Game Tournament – I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like board games (ok, except for my sister-in-law). It’s a great inclusive choice.
  • Mow-a-thon – Offer to mow lawns by donation. This service-based fundraiser is a good fit if you have a large and able group of volunteers. It gets you connecting with people, offers plenty of time for good conversations, and has a lasting effect of a goodwill glow.
  • To Shave or Not to Shave – This works well for large beards or heads of hair. Have people pledge for or against the shave– a friendly competition raises the stakes, with all money going to your charity.
  • The Art Show – This has the potential of being a big fundraiser. The key here is to pick the right artists: ones that are willing to donate their work and that will bring in a large asking price.

Good luck!

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