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Maximising the value of events

Maximising the value of events

In the current climate, and despite its often low ROI, is still a great way to engage with donors and prospects, but to justify the time and effort you really need to ensure you are squeezing all the benefits from it you can.

I heard a presentation recently by a well-known regional charity that described its flagship annual event that has been running for 20 years. This is a successful event, raising £80,000 of general funds each year, but I could not help thinking they were missing a few tricks.

Although the charity manages to keep the PR fresh (no mean feat with an old event format), there was no focus on using it for donor acquisition or to cross sell other fundraising opportunities to participants. We learned that no development work was being done with potential major donors who took part and, despite fully one third of those registering not turning up, there was no policy to charge even a small admin fee upfront (which would help defray the cost of the no-shows).

Don’t get me wrong. The event works well for this charity. However, it is clear they could be squeezing a lot more value out of what is a labour intensive activity. As it is, it is viewed as stand-alone and appears not to be integrated into the fundraising . For the long term, they should be using it to support a range of fundraising, including of course legacies.

So before you invest in new or risky initiatives, my question is this: Are you maximising the impact of your current activities and squeezing every drop of value out of them that you can? If not, I suggest you make a cup of tea and sit down with a colleague to review your activities – it might just make all the difference in the current climate!


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Simon George, BSc (hons) FInstF (dip) is a Director of Wootton George Consulting and has been fundraising since 1987. He has special interests in fundraising strategy, legacies and charitable trusts. A longstanding member of the Institute of Fundraising, he founded its Trusts and Statutory Special Interest Group in 1999 and was also the first Chair of the IoF’s West Midlands region. He has written two e-books on legacies and grant fundraising, published by SPMFundessentials and has achieved the Diploma in Fundraising Management. In 2010 he was made a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising. Today he manages a team of 20 fundraising consultants around the UK.

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