I’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.
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Photo credit: Success