PMA Consulting, LLC

When is it Time to Abandon Your Event-Based Outreach? Not as soon as you think.

Instability of the marketplace, disintegrating portfolios for affluent donors, and wide-spread competition for relationship-building supremacy has encouraged nonprofits to focus greater time and energy on major-gift strategies. In fact, PMA often counsels its clients on making the transition from event-based outreach to more cultivated and sustainable, major gift practices.

However in the spirit of dismissing “cookie-cutter” methods and understanding that “one size doesn’t necessarily fit all,” we suggest that each nonprofit examine their unique needs, maturation and organizational model before canceling the big event! Three questions to consider:

  1. Have you created a stable presence in the community? – Longevity, reinforced by a positive image and maintainable outcomes, is a critical precursor to soliciting major-gift prospects. During this development period, special events keep an organization on the radar, maintain broad-based activity and establish a foundation from which to build more focused marketing and communication strategies.
  2. Have you made a connection with donors? – Often the capacity of a donor is greatly influenced by his/her association with the organization. Special events invite individuals, corporations and foundations that would not otherwise engage to experience the organization first-hand, helping to establish viable connections and inform potential cultivation, solicitation and stewardship strategies.
  3. Do your organizational needs transcend funding? – When civic engagement is an intricate part of your programmatic impact, it is critical that an organization maintain functions that serve to educate, enlist and recognize volunteers. Special events build an organization’s capacity for human capital while reinforcing the case for which funding is requested.

In short, the focus of an event should be a cultivating opportunity while solicitations are more successful when done on a personal level.