Cavemen once ventured out of their caves and into the vast worlds beyond. Christopher Columbus once sailed across the globe and discovered new lands. Now, nonprofit leaders, it is time for you to change your horizons. The way things used to be done is not the way things should be done now. Convert your old way of thought into an upgraded, modern strategy designed for success. Throw the "Old Event Paradigm" away and embrace the "New Event Paradigm", or forever be relegated to the back of the nonprofit heap.
The Old Event Paradigm is the way most people usually look at events and event planning.
- Set a budget, pick a convenient date and location and go from there.
- Use the event as a separate, incremental revenue generator apart from the rest of your programs.
- If you have ten problems you need to solve, address them all with one do-it-all event.
- When these events perform woefully, it's ok, because it was also a "friend-raiser". In reality, using that term is just an excuse to justify underperforming events.
- The old event paradigm leads to events that are a pain to deal with, are draining, hectic and largely unsuccessful.
The New Event Paradigm is a way to change the way you look at events.
- Be strategic and focus on the mission of your organization.
- Integrate the event with the rest of your development efforts.
- Set the goals of the event first, before setting a budget and date.
- Events done in this fashion tend to be successful, engaging and enriching.
The Old Event Paradigm simply places your event to the side, completely separate with the pyramid style hierarchy of fundraising. On the bottom of this pyramid lies large quantities of small donations and annual giving, above that is major gifts, higher up is capital campaigns and finally the smallest portion of the pyramid, bequeathed money.
The New Event Paradigm has events mixed into every part of that pyramid. Volume events tied in with annual giving and small donations; targeted events to help with major giving; launch events used with capital campaigns and recognition events that can work with bequests.
With the New Event Paradigm you understand that cultivation events and fundraising events are different. The point of a cultivation event is to be welcoming and to provide information; the point of a fundraising event is to get people to commit more and to raise money. Cultivation events will be seen as costs, investments into potential supporters, whereas fundraising events should be revenue generators.
You need to be brave to enter this grand, new world and change the way you think. Once you do, you will be rewarded the riches you truly deserve.
Source: Adapted by Jake Emen from Jeff Shuck's Nonprofit 911 Presentation "Event 101 for Fundraisers"