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Great Fundraising Events - AFP ICON 2017

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Fundraising events have become an increasingly important and ubiquitous tool for nonprofit organizations.

But what is it that ultimately makes an event “successful?” and how can events provide new and potentially exciting forms of value for participants?

This session will dive into new Bloomerang-funded research from the Rogare Fundraising Think Tank at Plymouth University, which outlines for the first time what overarching factors may have a part to play in distinguishing genuinely outstanding fundraising events from merely ‘average’ ones.

Learning Outcomes:

Discover how your own efforts compare with an international focus group
Learn the critical success factors that lead to event success
Uncover key recommendations for creating memorable experiences

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Great Fundraising Events - AFP ICON 2017

  1. 1. Successful Fundraising Events: Just What Does It Take To Be Best In Class
  2. 2. Your Presenters Jay B. Love & Adrian Sargeant 3
  3. 3. We Will Explore • Why events are an issue • What drives success in events • Practical recommendations for how to improve your own fundraising performance
  4. 4. Nonprofit events are like a High Wire Act without a Safety Net! Allen J, 2009 “Event Planning”
  5. 5. What distinguishes genuinely outstanding fundraising events from merely ‘average’ ones?
  6. 6. Three Sponsors wanted to“KNOW”
  7. 7. Why Special Events? •Difficulty in recruiting donors via other channels •Difficulty in engaging donors •Aid in identifying high value supporters
  8. 8. Study Methodology » • A review of events fundraising literature • International advisory panel event expertise from the UK, USA and Canada • Organizations identified who had particularly successful events • 30 interviews with key event leaders in these organizations
  9. 9. Study Findings
  10. 10. 1. A High Degree of Donor-Centricity • Focusing on the needs of the donor, not the organization
  11. 11. It Requires • Systems and processes be established to gather data about what these needs might be and • That once known; action is taken as a result.
  12. 12. Organizational Learning Culture • Acquire data • Interpret it fully and transform it into knowledge • Modify behaviour as a consequence.
  13. 13. Source: Finch (2015)
  14. 14. Governing Boards need to be taken out and spanked
  15. 15. Why not … • Satisfaction • Commitment and Trust? Explains 54% of intention to continue giving
  16. 16. Motives for Involvement • Philanthropic - the donor believes in the underlying charitable cause • Prestige - person wishes to be seen at the event as it provides either a signal of wealth or of social grouping • Leadership - to encourage others to give, show of generosity • Relationship with the charity - donor has direct personal experience of relevant cause, for example losing a friend or family member to cancer • Warm glow - donor takes enjoyment from giving to charity • Associated warm glow - supporting friends or associates who are organising the event • Peer pressure - friends and committee members encourage attendance. In practice, we believe a significant reason why people attend fundraising events Source: New Philanthropy Capital (2003)
  17. 17. So why do we do this??
  18. 18. We are product oriented !!
  19. 19. 2. A Focus on Fundamental Human Needs • Make A Difference • Autonomy • Connectedness • Growth • Purpose in Life • Self Acceptance
  20. 20. Need to make a difference: • Defined as the competence to choose or create environments best suited to an individual’s needs/values and where they are capable of making a desirable difference.
  21. 21. Autonomy • Defined as a sense of self-determination and the ability to resist social pressures to think and act in certain ways. An individual would experience a high degree of autonomy if they perceive that they have selected a new and innovative event in which to participate. They will also experience higher autonomy if they are in some sense in control of their own experience and in the context of fundraising have options around who to ask and how
  22. 22. Connectedness • Defined as the need that people have for warm, satisfying and trusting relationships with others (Deci & Ryan, 2011). One might experience a close relationship by being introduced to other donors at an event, or by connecting directly with a beneficiary of one’s giving. The greater the sense of connection that one might engender the higher the psychological wellbeing along this dimension.
  23. 23. Growth • Defined as a feeling of continued development, realizing one’s own potential, seeing oneself as growing and expanding, seeing improvement in self and behaviour over time, being open to new experiences, and changing in ways that reflect more self- knowledge and effectiveness.
  24. 24. Purpose in Life • Defined as having goals for the future of one’s life and a strong sense of direction. Research indicates that the clearer one’s life purpose is the higher one experiences psychological wellbeing
  25. 25. Self-Acceptance: • Defined as the ability to experience positive feelings about their sense of self in the past. Looking back, can we accept the selves we have been …
  26. 26. So Plan • What kinds of people will we attract • What needs will those individuals have • How can we design or adapt an event and its associated communication to meet them?
  27. 27. And … • The higher the level of perceived needs to be met, the more ambiguous and more uncertain people feel about judging their fulfilment • The more ambiguous people feel about what a fulfilled life means the more they would look to others to help them define what a fulfilled life means • The more uncertain, the more likely they are to rely on others to help them form the judgement
  28. 28. 3. Choose the Appropriate Mindset
  29. 29. Key Concepts in Communication PRESENT • Concrete • Subordinate • Contextualized • Unstructured FUTURE • Abstract • Superodinate • Decontextualized • Structured
  30. 30. And • Dates are tied to the present mindset – extents of time to the future • Emotions discount faster than logic • Negative outcomes discount faster than positive outcomes.
  31. 31. Enhance Closeness • Temporal distance (time); • Spatial distances (physical space); • Social distances (interpersonal distances, such as distance between two different groups or two dissimilar people); and • Hypothetical distances (imagining the likelihood that something will happen).
  32. 32. 4. Focus on Transformations Not Experiences
  33. 33. At everyone's table, there were books. In the middle of the breakfast we asked: what was one of your favorite books when you were a child? Now think about that and how excited you were to have it Too many children have never had a book of their own… You WILL HELP change that today for a child! Pick out a book and write a message about what such books meant to you All of these books will be given to children to take home and your message will be inside.” Case study » • Children’s Literacy Organization
  34. 34. Pine and Gilmore (1998)
  35. 35. • “The second time you experience something, it will be marginally less enjoyable than the first time, the third time less enjoyable than that and so on until you finally notice the experience doesn’t engage you nearly as much as it once did. Welcome to the commoditization of experiences, best exemplified by the increasingly voiced phrase, ‘‘Been there, done that.’’ Pine and Gilmore (2014, p26)
  36. 36. Tarssanen and Kylänen (2005) • Individuality, which is about triggering in the customer a sense of being dignified as an individual. • Authenticity, which reflects the customer’s subjective perception of what a genuine product, (or experience), is. • The story, which performs the primary function of linking all the elements of an experience. • Multisensory perception, which means that the event offers an experience that can be appreciated through as many senses as possible. • Contrast, which refers to the event’s ability to contrast with what the attendee might have been expecting or with their everyday routine. • Interaction, which represents the relationship between donors, the nonprofit, the beneficiary and other relevant stakeholder groups. As we outlined earlier this is a factor widely accepted as being linked with life satisfaction and wellbeing
  37. 37. 5. Driving Emotion w/ Storytelling Detailed attendee research (gathering data on lifestyles, connection to the cause, feelings about fundraising etc.) can lead to “personas” Event planners were then able to focus on the needs of those “personas” and plan experiences they would find deeply moving and personally meaningful.
  38. 38. Driving Emotion w/ Storytelling • Foster Care/Adoption Organization What would it be like for you to find out tomorrow that you weren't going back to your family and you may never see them again. A youth speaker then shared his story He told attendees what it felt like to know that there was a family waiting for you at the end of the day because nothing is forever except for family. Afterwards, attendees went through an adoption process and the celebration that happens once a child gets adopted. We then informed the donors they made this happen!
  39. 39. Case study » • Save the Children's Forced to Flee event Groups led into the space and given a number, a headset to listen to real stories of children affected and a child’s rucksack.
  40. 40. Case study » Eventually attendees reach a play area, which represents the work the charity does in areas of such conflict to bring play to children. http://www.eventmagazine.co.uk/pictures-save-childrens-forced-flee-event/brands/article/1395683
  41. 41. 6. Constantly Drive Innovation
  42. 42. Internal Sources • Informal discussions with supporters; • Informal discussions with employees and/or volunteers; • Analysis of complaints received; • Focus groups with supporters; • Focus groups with other stakeholders; • Organized team-based brainstorming sessions; • Individual brainstorming, not using a facilitating software package; • Individual brainstorming using a facilitating software package; • Organized creativity sessions using techniques other than brainstorming (e.g., lateral thinking, SWOT analysis, an idea generation template obtained from outside the organization, environmental scanning or similar techniques); • Senior managers’ insights; and • Accidental discovery and/or by-products of existing activities.
  43. 43. External Sources • Informal discussions with people in other charities; • Analysis of the activities of other charities; • Attendance at exhibitions, conferences or conventions; • Perusal of professional fundraising magazines; • Information from a professional body or trade association (e.g., the AFP); • Foreign charities; • Other foreign sources, e.g., foreign visits, foreign conferences; • Web sources dedicated to ideas for charity fundraising; • Web sources dedicated to idea creation for general business purposes; • Books devoted to fundraising; • Advertising/Creative agencies; • Ideas consultants; • Fundraising consultants; and • Suppliers of charity promotional merchandise
  44. 44. Bennett and Savani (2011) % and Rank Source Larger Charities Smaller Charities Analysis of the activities of other charities 48% (1) 52% (1) Information from a professional or trade association 44% (2) 46% (3) Internet pages dedicated to fundraising ideas and information exchange forums 40% (3) 48% (2) Attendance at conferences, conventions and exhibitions 33% (4) 40% (4) Organized team brainstorming 27% (5) 16% (10) Focus groups 25% (6) 18% (9) Advertising agencies 22% (7) 20% (8) Fundraising and other consultants 18% (8) 22% (7) Senior managers’ insights 16% (9) 29% (5) Individual brainstorming 15% (10) 24% (6)
  45. 45. Winning Ideas • Raised by internal rather than external sources; • Based on a close understanding of clients’ requirements; and • In some way unique. Source: Pavia (1991)
  46. 46. But for us .. Event Ideas Change behaviour with high uncertainty Delivered Psychological Benefits Change behaviour more powerfully and with less uncertainty Missing Link connected by this report
  47. 47. 7. Focus Innovation on Human Needs
  48. 48. 8. An Investment in the Team »
  49. 49. Training is not often invested in » http://masteringmajorgifts.com/report/
  50. 50. Avoiding Burnout (true stories)» “We had a fundraising event every single month. It's insane. It's just not sustainable. It's not good. There was a ton of turnover in the position that was organizing all these events!” "We used to hold 10 events a year. Now we have ratcheted down to three events a year and we're primarily a major gift shop. Our revenues have doubled because all of those events were a drain and yet people didn't want to give up all events.”
  51. 51. 9. A Focus on Technology • Most events studied used technologies to enhance supporter satisfaction. • CRM • Social Media • Mobile • Peer-to-Peer • Email
  52. 52. A Focus on Technology • Automate processes and gather actionable data to use for building relationships
  53. 53. A Focus on Technology • Make it easy for participants to engage and support your mission
  54. 54. But • Competence • Autonomy • Connectedness As a minimum
  55. 55. 10. Creating Board Champions Potentially outstanding events can still be stifled by management and board! • Need to involve leaders from the outset for new event planning • Actively consider when would be the best stage in the innovation process to involve specific individuals and how
  56. 56. Final Thoughts
  57. 57. Don’t forget the follow-up » 1. “Thank you for coming.” 2. “What did you think?” 3. Be quiet and listen. 4. “Is there any way you could see yourself becoming involved with us?” 5. “Is there anyone else you can think of that we ought to invite to a __________?”
  58. 58. Our Recommendations » • Put donor in mission recipients shoes! • Move beyond golf tourneys and galas • Don’t be afraid to experiment! • Leadership buy-in is key • Research and network with colleagues
  59. 59. Executive Summary & Full 62 Page Report » bloomerang.co/resources/research
  60. 60. Questions? jay.love@bloomerang.co @JayBarclayLove Adrian.Sargeant@Plymouth.ac.uk @adriansargeant Free eBook » https://bloomerang.co/staytogether/