The Accidental Fundraiser

Special Events and The Board, Not Forgetting The One Crucial Step

One of my favorite nonprofits is in a pickle. And a common pickle it is indeed. A board member suggested a smallish event a few months ago, it is now crunch time. The staff didn’t get the invites out on time. The board has a bit of post-holiday malaise and bloat and the event chair is going ballistic. Where is all the support that was promised? Or was it?

Here is the most common scenario: A board member says, in best Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney fashion, let’s put on a golf tournament, skeet shoot, wine tasting, wild boor hunt, you fill in the blank. The board hears, “I will put on the event.” The board member thinks she is saying, “Together, WE will put on the event.” Everyone agrees to the event, a date is set, and then fast forward, its crunch time. The board is dismayed that the event chair expects the board member to bring 10 people. A few of the board members confide, “The truth is, This really isn’t my kind of thing, you know!.” This is the stuff of antacid commercials.

How to avoid this? If this is a small event and you are counting on the board rather than a committee to bring in the guests, take ten minutes, ask the board for a conservative count and ask them how many people they can deliver that night. Take names and write it down. If you want 150 to attend and the board can deliver 37, this might just be the wrong event, wrong evening, wrong committee. This one step will make all the difference.

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, not a fan of small events

January 4, 2008 - Posted by | Special Events

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