Athletes have a remarkable ability to make an impact both on and off the field. I love watching athletes use their platform to make a difference. Lately, however, I’ve read too many articles and have had several conversations with athletes regarding their foundations and their stories have been eerily similar…. They had a great event or campaign, but the expenses were so high that there was only a small amount left over to go toward their mission.
Not all events are equal – especially fundraising events. Fundraising requires a very different strategy and skill set, above and beyond what is needed to host a successful event.
So what makes a fundraising event so different? Let’s take a look:The cause – what you are raising money for – needs to be the center point for the event. Making the cause the foundation of your event will naturally allow you to attract sponsors, event attendees and donors. When each of these entities has a true passion for the cause, genuine partnerships are created. When your attendees leave your event they should clearly understand and be connected to the mission of your cause.
Partnerships begin with the athlete/athlete representative and the event planner. In order for the event or campaign to be successful, we recommend that the event planner receive a percentage of the net revenue, not gross. This ensures that the expenses will be kept in check through inkind partnerships, discounts and donations.
When it comes to partnering with potential sponsors, it’s important to remember that growing relationships and connecting with the right people takes time and research. Recognizing that corporations are approached often for partnership, it is important to find partners, whether cash or inkind, that are connected to the cause, not just the athlete themselves. Keep in mind that while an organization may be a perfect fit with the cause, it’s always best to work with the athlete’s marketing agent to ensure that their personal endorsements are appropriately represented and that there aren’t any conflicts with partners for the foundation.
Innovative fundraising and partnership opportunities allow you to net the maximum amount of money for your cause. While you may have a standard sponsorship deck, it isimportant to be flexible and create customized opportunities based upon the sponsors’ interests and event goals. Some organizations may prefer a sponsorship package with more branding opportunities while other organizations prefer a package with more hospitality opportunities. Some organizations may prefer to donate products or services, while others prefer to donate cash. Creating a mutually beneficial package is the key to building successful, long term partnerships.
When it comes to planning successful fundraising campaigns and events, creating an emotional tie to the cause is essential. Allow your attendees and partners to see, firsthand, how a nonprofit impacts individuals’ lives. Help them relate to the benefiting individuals, allowing a natural urge to want to help them and others in similar situations. The publicity that your campaign or event will receive will not only be more genuine, but yield much greater outcomes for the group you are supporting.
Fundraising takes a very different strategy than event planning and understanding nonprofits is crucial in being successful at it. The most memorable and successful fundraising events and campaigns allow the nonprofit to shine through genuine partnerships, mutual passions and successful outcomes for the foundation. Without this strategy and nonprofit knowledge, the cause and the reputation of the foundation and its associated partners/athletes suffer… And to me, that‘s a shame.