Q: I work for a small nonprofit (which is part of a national CASA organization) that is attempting to follow your model. We have been hosting a gala dinner (our major annual fundraiser) where we invite specific people to come. We provide a dinner (which costs us $25 per person), plus a basket raffle, open bar, games, etc. We don't sell tickets or charge to come. We net about $5,000 (not counting paid staff time).
We hope that people will cover the cost of their meal plus make a donation. Some do and some don't. Last year we had 150 guests attend the event. We are trying to figure out if it's best to keep it an invite-only, no-charge event or to charge a fee to make sure we cover our costs. If we charge we can also advertise it to the general public and hopefully gain more guests.
According to your model, how should we handle this: charge or no charge? Also, is it in line with your model to ever charge for anything?
Lori in Pennsylvania
A: The Benevon Model does not include any special event-type fundraisers. If you are wanting to utilize the Benevon Model fully and achieve the types of results you have read about in the book and on our website, your organization will need to fully adopt the process, without deviating.
Many groups have an existing fundraiser, like your gala, when they prepare to adopt the Benevon Model. You will need to decide if you keep that fundraiser while you adopt this new process or if you phase out your existing event and focus just on the Benevon Model. The biggest consideration in making that decision is ROI from the existing fundraiser in comparison to expected ROI with the model. Adopting the Benevon Model will also take staff resources, so that will be an important factor in your planning as well.
To achieve maximum results, you will need to stick to the model just as prescribed:
- Two Point of Entry Events per month
- Each Point of Entry is hosted and filled by an Ambassador with ten or more guests
- Follow-up calls made to each Point of Entry guest within two to three days, recruiting at least one new Ambassador from each Point of Entry
- The Ask Event is a free breakfast or lunch event on a weekday that lasts one hour, to be held after Point of Entry Events have occurred for a minimum of nine months
- The Ask Event is populated with a high percentage of people who attended Point of Entry Events in the year prior to the Ask Event (minimum of 40%)
- The Ask Event is filled by Table Captains who have served as Ambassadors in the prior year, bringing ten or more guests to a Point of Entry Event
Assuming those metrics have been met, we see an average of $200,000 raised at the first Ask Event, with a minimum of 10% of the attendees joining the Multiple-Year Giving Society (a minimum commitment of $1,000 for five years).
We don't have any recommendations on how to improve your gala, but would encourage you to consider what would be possible if the same time and energy that goes into planning the gala, collecting the auction items, etc. could be dedicated to meeting the metrics above!