A few of my clients are in the process of reevaluating their major fundraising events, an exercise I think can be very beneficial, especially if it is approached in the right way and with the right spirit. If your fundraising events are in need of review (or more importantly, a complete overhaul), here are a few steps you can follow.
First, be objective
The facts don’t lie. Evaluate your event statistics going back at least 5 years: revenue and expenses, sponsors, number of attendees, etc. Identify trends, successes and areas of concern.
Then, be subjective
Our HPS motto is, “people support what they help to create.” If you are considering making changes to your event (or more importantly, replacing it all together), it is imperative to seek input from your constituents. Take time to meet with committee members, both current and past. Consider conducting a survey or a few focus groups. In addition to requesting feedback on this event, ask your constituents about events they have attended for other organizations and determine what they like (and don’t like) about those events. What you will discover through this process is that, no matter what decision you make, your constituents will feel like they had a voice in the process.
While change can be unnerving, it can also be refreshing. Whether you are simply eliminating a silent auction or replacing an entire event, make the decision and move forward with gusto. Communication will continue to be an essential part of the process going forward. Recruit some “ambassadors” – key volunteers, staff members, etc. to help you share the good news. Arm them with the simple facts regarding the change and provide them with some exciting details about the new event.
Give it time
If you are replacing an event or part of an event, it is a good idea to remind your Board members, your volunteers, and especially yourself that change takes time. You may not net the same about of revenue in the first year. You may also determine that the change you made was not the right decision or did not go far enough. Consider this a process, be willing to objectively evaluate the outcomes and continue to make the changes necessary to grow your event and ultimately your constituent base. And remember…change is exciting!
by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions