Even Alice Knows Why Matters

Many non-profits or clubs want to hold events-it’s a way to raise money. Sell tickets to something and hope enough people attend to make it net a number that’s worth the effort. People like parties, should be easy. Problem is much more than  goes into an event and why so many non-profits or clubs/organizations ultimately fail.

First to consider is what is the purpose of the event? Is it to secure new clients or prospects? Is it to generate media attention and publicity? Is it to raise money? Raising awareness? Interesting new clients to repeat business? Creating a trial stage for clients or donors? An event is not going to be all of those things for all the attendees. Prioritize.

How much time and effort does it take to conduct an event and what are the real costs associated with the event? Not just talking food, beverage and decoration here. How much staff/volunteer time goes in to logistics, media relations, marketing? Who’s doing the sales–you know actually getting people to buy tickets? How many tickets at what price will net the result you want? Many non-profits or clubs set a ticket price for what people can pay but don’t back out the costs to know what they need to net to make it worth it.

If the event is to attract new prospects, does it relate to the image you want for your company? It’s easy to sell tickets for alcohol related events (from wine tasting to all-you-can-drink vodka), but does that fit the image for a professional association for college students or for non-profits working in social justice? Might be easy money, but is it worth the image? What about students who aren’t 21 or people with families? Can they attend or have you made the event exclusionary? Might work for your club, might not. The key is to ask the questions.

Do you have a program to connect the attendees to the organization? Do you need one? If it’s prospects, what point do they know your organization is the host and you want their engagement? Is it the same 25 women who always come-are you just bilking the membership for a few dollars at a time? Wouldn’t it just be easier to forgo lunch and have them write a check monthly check for the equivalent of lunch? You’d have more money.

Here’s an important question: what are you going to do with the money? For non-profits it often offsets the operations costs that donors don’t particularly want to fund. Contributions that directly impact the lives of young girls far more exciting than paying the executive director a livable wage or buying ad time to spread the message. Many service clubs give back to the community, which is great. But the clubs often decide who gets to receive the funds–for many donors, they’d just as soon give directly to an established organization. So what are the funds for again? And why do you need them? How much do you need? Why are you doing this event?

Events done well, with the right image, the best program content and the price that meets the net goal are terrific tools for RELATIONSHIP building–wither with current clients/donors or future ones. They are a tool for connecting to people at various stages of involvement with your organization. The consume a lot of time and energy-bigger they are, the more likely they are to consume valuable resources. It can be worth it, if you know exactly why you are hosting the event and what you want to get out of it and who you market the event to. But THAT topic is a whole other blog.

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