by Molly Galo, Senior Consultant, HUB Philanthropic Solutions
As professional fundraisers, we know it makes most sense to spend most of our time building an individual giving program. We know the importance of building relationships over time with individual donors that result in major gifts. After all, more than 70 percent of all charitable contributions come from individuals. Those gifts have the greatest impact on our programs…and in business terms offer us the greatest return on our investment of our time and other precious resources.
But we also know that our board members and volunteers don’t always see it that way.
How many times have you heard an enthusiastic, well-meaning board member—or even your entire development committee—say, “we just need to have more events”? Or, “we need to raise money, let’s throw a party?”
Events are important, to be sure. They do bring in funds, new friends, and exposure for your organization. But, they can take a disproportionate amount of staff time and agency resources.
I’d like to offer a strategy for harnessing your board members’ enthusiasm, while helping you maximize the ROI of your staff’s time, and your organization’s monetary resources: the Party in a Box. Simply put, the Party in a Box is a package you can hand to any third party – board member, volunteer, local business –that wants to host an event to benefit your organization. The package defines the types of events that make sense for you, offers clear guidelines regarding host and staff responsibilities, and offers strategies for thanking participants. As you think through what makes sense for your organization, consider the following:
Third-party Fundraisers come in many forms. These types of events can be as simple as a dine-out night at a local restaurant, from which your organization receives a percentage of the proceeds. Or, they might take the form of a private party thrown by a board member during which guests are asked to make contributions to your organization. Or, a host committee might throw a large, public event to which attendees by tickets.
Ideally, the host will handle most, if not all, of the planning and execution. Since the goal is to minimize the burden on staff, it is best to spell out expectations regarding all responsibilities in the package you give to your hosts: who is handling the guest list, invitations, RSVPs? If you’re selling tickets, how will sales be handled? Will a staff member speak about your mission at the event? How and by whom will the event be publicized? Will your organization incur any expenses?
Thank your hosts and attendees. Be sure you’ve got your event follow-up plan in place. Your hosts are wonderful partners, be sure they understand how much you appreciate them! And your attendees are donors, too. You never know, some of them may become major donors.
The Party in a Box strategy is a win for everyone – your board members and volunteers who want to help, your staff who have myriad competing priorities, and, most importantly, the beneficiaries of your organization’s mission.