Q: Can you have your Ask Event onsite? We are a school and we were wondering if we could use our gym as a way to save money. This is our second Ask Event; the first we did at a hotel.
Sandra in Oklahoma
A: Generally, we do not suggest having your Ask Event onsite. Most organizations are not set up for this type of an event. You'll need to consider everything from location and parking to the logistics of having a plated meal, round tables for ten people, appropriate A/V to play the video, and the ability to darken the room, to name a few specifics that can present challenges. We find that to make your facility work, you will likely end up spending quite a bit on rentals (tables, chairs, A/V, stage risers, etc.), so it may not be that much less expensive when it's all said and done.
Even if you do have the perfect set-up, there are other impacts to consider. While most of your guests should have already attended your Point of Entry Event prior to coming to the Ask Event, you will have new people at the Ask Event that have never been to a Point of Entry. If they have already been to the school for the Ask Event, it could be harder to get those people back in the door for a Point of Entry.
We find it best to keep the Ask Event offsite at a hotel or similar space, and use the school for the Point of Entry and subsequent cultivation events where donors are coming back in to see the impact of their financial support on your mission.
One way to alleviate the cost of putting on the Ask Event offsite is to find a few sponsors to underwrite the event. Consider vendors and other past corporate supporters in addition to individual donors who may have connections to these types of businesses. Take them through the process like you would an individual: have them experience a Point of Entry and receive a follow-up call and subsequent engagement based on their areas of interest.
Once you are at the point of recruiting them as sponsors, be sure to tell them the impact of having this event underwritten so that all of the funds raised at the event can go directly to supporting your students.
Offer them several options for recognition and let them choose the one that is most appealing to them. Make it a win-win for all of you.