Getting the Most from Your Fundraiser, Pt. 1: Goals

For board members, volunteers, staff, and other folks focused on putting on a spring fundraising event, I offer a few tips to ensure your getting the best result for your efforts:

First, set some goals. Start by determining how much your organization wants to raise (net) from your event. (If yours is a spring event, hopefully, you have already done this already.)
Do not settle for a goal of “as much as possible,” a decision that can result in a variety of unfortunate consequences, such as this: “As much as possible” means $10,000 to board members Ted, Terry, and Tess; and $50,000 to board members Barb, Barry, and Bertha, who bust their butts because they want to reach their goal. Ted, Terry, and Tess work a lot less to attain their more modest goal than do Barb, Barry and Bertha, whose goal demands more effort (at least for this event). There is bickering. Boycotting of board meetings. Backing off of fundraising commitments, and other bad stuff.

Here’s an example of another unfortunate consequence: Your board doesn’t decide how much revenue it wants to have raised after all expenses (including staff time!) have been paid. As a result, it is hard for members to agree on how much money they are willing to invest in the event. Problems ensue. (See above for examples.)

Second, determine your other goals. You do have at least one other goal, don’t you?
In general, for most organizations, there should always be another goal. That goal should be more friendship, by which I mean:

-making more organizational friends (donors, volunteers, people who recommend your group to others), and

-deepening the involvement in your organization of current friends.

Side note: I am going to use the term “friends” to refer to donors, volunteers, and other supporters of your organization; it suggests a more reciprocal relationship between the donor/volunteer/other and the organization than do the terms “donor” and “volunteer.”

Why care about reciprocity? In my experience, it promotes a relationship that is more equitable and more effective in serving the interests of both your organization and its supporters (friends).
Back to the discussion at hand – the friendship goal. To attain more friendship, it's  
necessary to find and use the overlap between the interests, relationships, skills, and resources of your organization's friends (and potential friends) and the interests, opportunities and resources associated with your organization. 
And to find out how to find this overlap, check back: I’ll continue this discussion in my next post.