The Mikuska Group  

Why are we doing this event?

“Let’s do an event – we need to raise more money!”

Board members and/or staff come up with this idea often, with the notion that businesses will be on board with sponsorship, friends, family and acquaintances will buy tickets and loads of donated goods will be auctioned off, resulting in a healthy bottom line.

But does it?

There are reasons for holding an event, but typically raising money isn’t one of them. When you stop to examine the actual return on investment, what are you measuring? You need to be clear on your objective for holding an event before you can measure its ROI.

If your objective is to raise awareness, does your event align with your mission and perceived brand? Will people associate the event with your organization and support it because they believe in your mission? Or are they buying a ticket because they want a fun time out and won’t ever think that they’re supporting your good work?

If you are hoping to raise money, take every cost into consideration, including staff time. Many organizations claim to have raised a tidy sum without revealing that it actually raised half or less when the time taken by staff is factored in. You must also consider what is not being done while your fundraising staff is picking out menus and napkin colours and running around begging for donations for the auction table. With all that busy work, there’s no time to talk to your donors!

So ask yourself first, “Why are we doing this event?”

Laura Mikuska


What’s the cost of a lost opportunity?

We often hear people talk about the return on investment related to particular fundraising activities. (We often hear people never talking about ROI, but that’s for a different post!). But how many consider the opportunity costs of their decisions?

In other words, what are you not able to do if you do something else? Consider:

  • Spending time at board meetings reading routine reports means lost opportunities to talk about board members’ roles in connecting with donors. (Hint: use a consent agenda.)
  • Planning events that bring in little money means you’re not out building relationships with donors that may lead to larger gifts over a long period of time.
  • Spending your time on internal reports means less time meeting with donors.
  • Not sending a donor newsletter means you’re losing out on the revenue generated from that mailing.

Maximize your time and opportunities to meet donors, thank donors and ask people for gifts. Measure your activities against opportunity costs. Always ask yourself: do you need to do something or is it time to move on to a different activity with higher potential?

Julie Mikuska.


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