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What Events are for

No, events are not for raising money.*  Charities that rely on events primarily for income are suffering from severe opportunity cost and strategic misalignment.  Especially charities that run auctions– the most expensive and mission incompatible species of public gatherings.

What are events for?

  1. Primarily, having fun and celebrating an organization’s wonderful mission.  This is a major way you build community and your public brand.  For Pete’s sake, don’t hire an auctioneer to shout at people.  Your event should be truly joyous and celebratory.
  2. Recognizing and thanking your current donors.
  3. *Yes, actually, there are two important fundraising pieces, but they are indirect: cultivating future donors and soliciting modest introductory gifts.

A sophisticated non-profit will use the event only as the first step in a tiered, humane, relationship building process.  Not the annual shakedown that fundraising events typically are.  Your events should be break-even, maybe generate a modest surplus, and you should have the relationship building staff and the robust business plan to really raise the serious money.

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