Fundraising Within A Budget AKA When Pigs Fly

At Ultimate Donations, I field a lot of questions every week, both in person and via e-mail, about the hassle of finding that work-life balance while planning a fundraising event. I thought I’d share one such question I got this week, to highlight how common a problem this is and how you can tackle this stress head-on. 

“I have been working on my fundraiser for months and I feel burnt out. The acceptance rate is really bad. I feel like I have been spending 24/7 working on this event. In other words, my life is full of stress. Trying to negotiate with the event committee has been overwhelming. Apparently, the event committee has no idea what event planning is, nor does it understand the costs associated with what they are asking for. Now, I find the committee is AWOL. How can I explain to them to spend less?”

Alyssa J., Des Moines, IA 

There’s no question here, you are most definitely burnt out. This is an all too common occurrence in this line of work. Let’s first de-stress by taking one step at a time. 

  1. Stop for a minute.
  2. Settle your mind.
  3. Focus on your breath and take many deep breaths in and out.

I’ll give it to you straight: getting donations for an event may be one of the most difficult professional trials you’ll have to endure. But when we worry about things that haven’t happened yet, we double our stress. It sounds like you are doing the best you can with the resources you have, but no one can operate at 100% all day, every day!  If you’re not getting the support you need to effectively do your job, it’s important to reach out to others–like you’re doing now!–to get help. However, let’s not discount the importance of opening up to a licensed medical professional. As much as I love giving advice, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no doctor! 

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get into the nitty gritty: If you want your committee to take your concerns seriously, you will need to show them how the path they are on is detrimental to their mission. One easy representation is to calculate the event’s Return on Investment (ROI) to show the committee the error of their ways. This can be done before, for an estimated event ROI, and after the event, for the actual ROI. The calculation involves the following: 

ROI = [(Amount Raised – Amount Spent) / Amount Spent] * 100 

Total event costs, or amount spent on the event, include things like food, drinks, event space, materials, permits. Don’t leave out costs that will be or were covered by donations. (We will add the donation’s value into the calculation later.) Also, remember to incorporate the cost of the total hours each staff member and volunteer for the event will work or worked. Divide the total hours worked by the total compensation dollar amount (could be costs like food and transportation for volunteers). 

The other part of the equation that you need is the fundraising total, or amount raised. If your event is in the future, figure out your goal donation per attendee and multiply it by the number of people coming to the event. Event already happened? You already have the total amount raised then! Now add in the value of already acquired donation, event space for instance, into the amount raised. 

Using the data, you have collected, plug the totals into the ROI formula from earlier in this article. The number you get after using the formula will be the percentage of money gained or lost from by the event. Take everything you have discovered to the fundraising committee as proof of cost being an issue or not. 

Disorganized and uncooperative committees can make or break a fundraising event. Do your due diligence for a profitable fundraising event.

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Donor Gurus at UltimateDonations.org
Ultimate Donations streamlines the often convoluted task of planning fundraisers and charity events by guiding you to discover donors more rapidly and effectively. If you have requested donations previously, you might be all to familiar with how tiring and time-consuming examining potential donors can be. Ultimate Donations has done a significant part of the research into who is most likely to donate to your organization. If you want a particular donation, we have the data on what is available.