Don’t get us wrong: we are all in favor of charitable fundraising events done well, when they are created to attract and educate people as part of an empathetic and genuine relationship building process. And only if the events themselves are unique and interesting. Properly conceived and executed, fundraising events should instead be, as another old saying goes, friend raising events. Use them for donor acquisition, cultivation, and stewardship, and leave the “ask” for intimate 1-on-1 or small group meetings, and only when the timing is right.
If all this is true, then why are so many dreaded “asks” delivered en mass over loudspeakers – or these days, over your computer speaker, as the auctions and events have all gone virtual? Why do so many organizations still run 1-time fundraising efforts and under-invest in their capacity to create, build and deepen long-term relationships? Many reasons: a failure to analyze performance metrics; the social-proof of so many other organizations doing the same thing; a propensity for short-term thinking; and because starving is scary. Even if everyone in the org is sick and tired of the annual gala, they badly need that $200K or they might not get paid.