Which Event Would You Rather Host for Your Non-Profit?

12/10/2013 · Terri

FundraiserGoal Geronimo Vacation Rentals for CharityThere are a ton of great resources available to help non-profit fundraising efforts. LinkedIn Groups is one of our favorites.  Here, at TravelPledge we have been inspired and compelled to join in many discussions that help us stay relevant and supportive of our non-profit partners. One particular LinkedIn group that has peeked our interest is the Charity and Benefit Fundraising Auctions group. Right now there is a great discussion going on titled: “Does anyone use consignment packages in their charity auctions?”

As I read all the comments, it seemed to me that there are a couple of schools of thought out there.  I have a tendency to simplify things, and I always try to keep in mind that the #1 GOAL always has to be raising the most money possible for the non-profit.  Don’t you agree? I think sometimes this gets lost in the debate. The maximum possible amount to be raised is a function of many factors, primarily the items donated and the make up of the event audience, along with the support solicited by the non-profit.  In a perfect world, the skies would open, and tons of great items would drop into the hands of the event organizers for free and they’d all sell themselves at retail value.  Unfortunately this is not a perfect world, and the typical event needs HELP.  Help getting items, help promoting items, coaching, live auctioneer, etc. All (can) help a lot.

Let’s compare two events

EVENT 1-  The event “item committee” spends a total of 350 hours gathering gift cards, dinners, rounds of golf, sports tickets, etc.. Then it spends another 70 hours gathering logos, designing flyers, putting together baskets, etc.. The item is a huge success and they make $13,000.  Everyone is happy.  Event costs (food, beverage etc) amount to $4,000 so the total net donation is $9,000.  With 420 total man hours spent that equates to $21/hour of hard work. Not bad.  Everyone feels good.

EVENT 2- The same team the following year gets some help and coaching on how to secure the best items and brings in a live auctioneer who is well trained. Thanks to all the help, the event team spends far less time (140 hours total) and brings in FAR more money – $89,000.  Everyone is happy. Attendees are excited and have a great time.  Event costs (food, beverage, etc) are the same $4,000 and the cost of all of the help (people, technology, items, etc) is an additional $35,000, so the NET donation is $50,000 (more than 500% higher than the year before) and that equates to $357/hour of hard work.

So, what I read the Charity and Benefit Fundraising Auctions Group discussion is that some non-profits would rather have their volunteers working for $21/hour than get the help that could supercharge their event and make it far more efficient and rewarding.  That’s fine, but if their GOAL is to raise the most money possible for the non-profit and make sure donors are happy, it seems like getting some help might make sense.

If their GOAL is to “keep it in the family” and minimize any outside costs then that’s a different story entirely, and the event’s net donation may suffer (greatly) at the expense of achieving this goal.

As an EXTREME example let’s propose EVENT 3- Imagine a group of 200 people all get together in a YMCA gym and they all bring $20 with them.  Nobody eats, nobody bids on anything, nobody has a drink, so total costs are $45 to rent the gym.  Everyone puts their $20 in the jar and the non-profit raises $3,955.   Is this better or worse than an event that costs money to put on, where everyone has fun and the non-profit nets a donation of $50,000?  Answer that question and you’ll know which camp you’re in (and which goal you’re after), I guess.


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