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May 11, 2018 Conflicting Fundraising Events – Structured vs. Passive

Are there certain fundraising activities that compliment other types of fundraising activities? If so, which of those best work with each other? Which of them are definite “no-nos” when it comes to combining them? Let’s explore this a bit.

When most nonprofits plan a live auction at their fundraising event, their second thought is usually to include a silent auction.  These activities go hand in hand with one another – like peanut butter and jelly.

Raffles and revenue generating games also go hand in hand with a silent and live auction, as does a Fund-A-Need.  Each of these components of a fundraising event can work independent of one another or in conjunction with each other.  The live auction and Fund-A-Need particularly are very “structured” activities.

Other events that are not as structured would include cookoffs, marathons, casino nights or any other type of event where people are scattered and/or distracted by the activities.

So, you take on a certain amount of risk when you want to incorporate “structured” activities into fundraising events where guests are taking part in activities that are distracting them from other things going on at your event.

Let’s take casino night type events as an example.  A casino night event requires the attention of the guests who are playing the games.  When they are not playing, or watching their friends play, they can participate in the silent auction and any raffles and/or revenue generating games you have available.  This is passive participation.

Where the conflict arrives is when you incorporate structured activities, like a live auction or Fund-A-Need, into an event with a passive “non-revenue generating” activity.  So, you ask, why is this a problem?

For a successful live auction and Fund-A-Need, it’s essential that the guests be focused only on that activity and be “present” in the room, both emotionally and physically. With our example of a casino night event, there are so many different distractions going on that it is VERY difficult to get the guests to pay attention and engage in the fundraising.

Another negative with blending a passive versus a structured event is that guests who attend these events are most likely there to participate in the marathon/cookoff/casino night/etc. and may not even have any knowledge about your nonprofit and its mission. So you don’t “have the right people in the room”.

I refer to these type of events as “friend” raisers rather than fundraisers. When you are conducting a live auction and Fund-A-Need, you want guests who are passionate about your organization and have the financial wherewithal to support you. And you want their attention on raising funds to help your mission, not on that pair of twos at the poker table.

This is a perfect example of “Make every minute a revenue generating minute!”

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