From the Introduction……
Time and again, a simple fundraising formula is duplicated. Each time it will be a success when done right. It will work in good financial times and bad. Money for a cause will be raised. Fundraising events range from elite affairs in large cities, where black tie and gown definitely are not optional, to the “meat and potatoes” banquet auctions and backyard barbecue fundraising events held in thousands of small towns in rural America. This book covers them all, describing methods adaptable to any situation and illustrating basic through advanced techniques that both novice and veteran event planners can duplicate to raise net revenue to fund important mission-related work of nonprofit organizations, large and small.
Let’s Get Started
This book is primarily about fundraising through events that include auctions, raffles, games of skill and chance, food and drink, photo opportunities, merchandise sales, exhibits, tours, and entertainment as the main attractions and key sources of net revenue. All these activities can be part of a successful fundraising event. The examples, theories, and techniques described apply to virtually any fundraising event where attendees are offered opportunities to contribute to a cause, but not everything in the book will apply to all events. Choosing which to use in a given situation is discussed at length, because the mix of fundraising activities—for example, many or few, low dollar or high—determines ultimate net revenue raised for an organization’s basic operations and mission work. In this book I explain how using a major event as a centerpiece for fundraising can allow first-time event planners to succeed and experienced event planners to multiply their best efforts of the past. I will also reveal tricks and trappings of planning and holding financially successful events.
An organization need not hold an event to successfully raise money, but this book will explain how to use an event as the centerpiece of an annual repertoire of fundraising that will produce high net revenue. Volunteers and staff of nonprofit organizations can deliver spectacular results for a worthy cause in good economic times, and generous results in times of economic downturn, by hosting a well-organized, well-run event.
Does $8.3 million raised at one event sound possible? This is the amount raised during an annual four-day event for which I was responsible as executive director of a nonprofit organization. But this event was much more than just an auction or a grand banquet. It was a series of auctions, raffles, exhibitions, educational seminars, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner extravaganzas followed by even more spectacular auctions. Another organization I helped manage held nearly 5,000 auction-raffle events each year. The events were successful because they followed a tested formula that involved making fundraising and event-management decisions based on objective criteria, business planning, close attention to expenses, and teamwork.
Many readers may find greatest value in this book’s description of actual fundraising techniques, but the fundraising event is an elaborate affair where everything attendees see, hear, smell, and do once they enter the event site affects the outcome of giving, and thus net revenue, to the host organization. Therefore, this book covers all aspects of the fundraising event, along with several advanced techniques to further enhance fundraising.
What I see most often at fundraisers are highly competent staff and volunteers incompetently running fundraising events. Anyone can act incompetently if he or she doesn’t have the knowledge, experience, or training to act otherwise. This book provides a comprehensive base of knowledge to those very competent, dedicated people who are passionate about a cause and willing to spend their time and energy raising money to achieve a goal that will benefit society. Given all the time, talent, and energy that go into event fundraising each year, isn’t it about to time to channel this time, talent, and energy most effectively and efficiently?
Fundraising Is Not for the Faint of Heart
I explain fundraising events by focusing on an auction-event format and its many variants, add-ons, and extremes. Groups of all descriptions and economic status use this form of fundraising. It can offer huge net revenue, but due to significant costs of staging an event, the host can assume considerable financial risk. A $100,000 fundraising event is a total failure if it raises $100,000 but costs $100,000 to hold. Whether an event raises $100, $100,000, or $1 million, only net revenue (revenue earned after all expenses are paid) counts toward funding an organization’s mission. This book focuses the reader’s attention on event planning and management techniques that raise net revenue and truly fund organizations and their missions.
Money raised goes to every imaginable charitable cause, drawing people from every walk of life and belief. Events range from formal black tie to casual. Locations vary from the fanciest hotels to public park ramadas. Rooms range from chandeliered ballrooms to rescue mission basements. Food varies from five-course international gourmet excursions with sorbet to cleanse the palate, to just plain meat, potatoes, and a slice of bread with butter.
All the information in the book is relevant to fundraising events, but not all information is relevant to all events. Covering the widest range of events, providing considerable detail, and giving multiple examples to cover differences in types of organizations and events are intentional objectives of this book. Readers will need to pick and choose the information that is most relevant to their own organizations and event-planning goals. Readers can dive deep into details or gloss over them as suits their needs. The principles, practices, and tricks to staging net-revenue-producing events are the same, regardless of event size. The scale of event may differ; the financial risk may vary; the number of bells, whistles, and add-ons may be more or less; but best practices are what they are.
Good planning, sound financial management, use of well-instructed team-oriented volunteers, techniques to acquire donations, and so on all remain similar if not identical regardless of event size or the host’s fundraising objectives. Using sound techniques provides a ready pathway to success. There is no difference between a big or small event when it comes to the things that matter most in achieving peak performance………….
Excerpted from the book, Money for the Cause: A Complete Guide to Event Fundraising by Rudolph Rosen. Texas A&M University Press.
(c) Rudolph A. Rosen, 2012