More isn’t always more. Sometimes less can actually be more.
This is often true at fundraising events. Seems counterintuitive, right? The more people in the room the better, right?
It’s not the number of people in the room that will help you hit your targets, it’s who you have in the room that will help you create a great fundraising environment in which to achieve your goals. Everyone attending your event is actually costing you money. The food they’re eating, the chair they’re sitting in, the drinks they’re enjoying in some cases—those things are hard costs to your budget. The offset of that comes when the person in that seat gives back to you beyond what it cost for you to have them there.
If you have an intended focus for your fundraising program and then put too many uninvested people in that room, it can actually be distracting. Especially if those seats are filled with comp tickets. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between someone who has paid to be at an event and them donating. If people have paid to be there, they are more likely to give you money. If they’re not invested, it becomes easy to chat with the person next to them at their table. Or even worse, they get up and start moving around the room during your special appeal.
And when one goes, it gives permission for everyone else to follow.
Make-A-Wish of Oregon switched things up this year and held an intimate dinner, live auction and special appeal with a curated crowd of 250 before their larger and lower-ticket price Wish Ball started upstairs with silent auction, raffles, photo booth and fun for everyone.
The process of shrinking their crowd for this intimate dinner allowed them to hone in on bringing their biggest donors together and moving those who were lower level supporters up to the Wish Ball. By making this split they were able to create a more exclusive room that catered to the interests of their major donors.
It also allowed the organization to reach directly across to those major donors and create a tight, focused program for them without worrying about the distraction of a big, unruly room that they had to keep bringing to attention. It gave invested donors an environment of peers who were as committed to the organization as they were. The pay off for the change in format was that then everyone could head up to the party and socialize, dance and celebrate the amazing fundraising that was already done.
Take a look at who comes to your event, identify your major donors and then craft your event with that crowd in mind. By catering to your donor base, you will increase the investment in your major donors and increase the fundraising.