Was it all worth it if the donors don’t show up?

success_vs_failureI’m sure you’ve all been through it.  You plan a great event.  The invitations are sent out.  The venue is secured.   The linens even match the flower arrangements perfectly.  Thoughts of engaging prospects and reconnecting with donors are dancing in your head.

And then…..only a fraction of the people you invited actually show up.

It can be a demoralizing experience as a development director.  First thought is to go back to the drawing board, figure out what went wrong, and strategize how to make sure it never happens again.

Then there’s explaining it to the head of the department who may still measure success only by return on investment.  “It cost X amount for the event and we only got how much in donations??”  You’re going to want to be ready to answer that question.  It’s tempting to think of the whole thing as a total failure, right?

I say you couldn’t be more wrong.

Thankfully as we get farther into the 21st century, the thinking on development and fundraising is evolving.  No longer is it all about getting your money back immediately from an event or gathering.  More and more, it’s about relationship building.  Even if that means only one or two relationships at a time.

If nothing else, when attendance is low at an event, it gives you MORE quality time to spend with those prospects and donors who did show up.  That’s a good thing!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years working in development it’s that you never, EVER know who your next major donor will be.  And, they show up in the most unexpected places.

So, next time you experience a similar situation, look on the bright side, and spend extra time with those who are there.  It’s a great chance to develop another dedicated donor.

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Photo credit:  Success 


About dknotek2015

I am a Development Director for the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. Having worked in the Development and Alumni Relations Department for the past eight years, I have a unique background in development, philanthropy, and relationship building. I am a University of Nevada, Reno alum as well as a current MBA candidate. You could say I am silver and blue through and through! I am passionate about helping others. I understand how important education is to our local community, the nation, and the world. I remember struggling as a student to finish my own education, and how grateful I was when I received support through the generosity of others. As a professional, I excel at securing private donations which support the students, faculty, programs, and research of the College of Science. I am uniquely qualified to bring potential donors together with areas about which they are passionate and feel compelled to support.
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One Response to Was it all worth it if the donors don’t show up?

  1. Pingback: Cultivation isn’t all about events | Developing Dedicated Donors

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