All fundraising organizations have some sort of event portfolio. It may be a ‘thon’ (walk-a-thon, cycle-a-thon, bowl-a-thon, etc.), it may be a gala or it may even be a lottery or a tournament. These events are usually heavily labor-focused and, unfortunately, do not create deep relationships with the participants (it is, after all, an event that may see hundreds/thousands of people attend).
But what about corporate events as a third party event? What’s that, you ask? Many for-profit firms (engineering, law, accounting, etc.) have a myriad of third party events (usually meant as a thank you to customers or staff) whereby they may raise some funds. A third party event is where the charity comes by to thank and collect the proceeds from said event. These are the most efficient special events in your arsenal of events. All of the risk and the majority of the effort is done by the hosting company.
While most third-party events will not produce large returns, I would urge the fundraisers to think of this a jumping-off platform — perhaps you can deepen the relationship with the company in the future. The cost to raise a dollar here is practically 0. Your boards will be thrilled with this payback!
Since your board will be so thrilled with this outcome, I suggest that you start your search for third party events with your board. Presumably, most of them work for companies. Furthermore, most of those companies have some sort of event that they could align with a charity. Perhaps it’s the Christmas Party that you could charge an extra few dollars for a specialty drink. Maybe it’s a fee for wearing jeans to work on Fridays. The possibilities are endless.
From a charity’s viewpoint, we have had great success with third party golf tournaments. One year, we even received a cheque for over $30,000. That year, we tried to help the host organizing committee to find better ways to raise more funds. We brought our events specialist (who can run these events in her sleep) to the planning meetings. The staff member of the host company wasn’t an events person (or a fundraiser) so the lessons learned were pretty invaluable to them.
So, in conclusion, if you have a cadre of events in your portfolio, please think about adding third party events to the mix — it will serve you well.