Smaller Events, Bigger Returns

Smaller Events, Bigger Returns

March 23, 2021

Big galas can certainly be a good time for those who attend, but planning and executing a large-scale event can be stressful, especially for small and mid-size nonprofits.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations canceled their annual gala-style fundraisers or moved them to a virtual environment. The online events may not have generated the same money as a huge gala, but they didn’t cost as much to pull off, either.

The real quandary nonprofits are grappling with now is how to maintain the personal connection with their donors and the community at large. The answer may lie in smaller, more frequent events and a greater variety of event styles.

Even several years before the pandemic, many nonprofits questioned the ongoing value of fancy to-dos and instead opted for “no go gala” events where people pledge donations in gratitude for not having to dust off the tux or evening gown. Casual, come-as-you-are social hours known as “un-galas” also became popular.

Whatever you’re planning for this year, consider events that align with your mission and the population you serve.

If your organization is focused on food security, for example, a virtual cooking class might make sense. Work with kids? How about a family picnic in a local park? Is your mission housing-focused? A tour of local homes could generate interest from the community and paint a vivid picture of the disparity that exists in other parts of town.

Smaller events can cost less and require less effort to execute, which means you can host them more often and connect with your donors more frequently.

Whatever you decide to do with your organization’s fundraising events this year, make sure the message focuses on your mission and the work your organization is doing. Dedicate a few minutes at the beginning of the event to present that message. And when you’re thanking people at the end, remind them how important their support is to your organization’s continued success.

Follow up about a week later with a handwritten note to everyone who attended, thanking them personally for joining you. Consider sharing details about the event’s outcome, too.

If you’re planning something cool, we’d love to help! Drop us a line so we can talk through the possibilities.