Two glasses of champagne. One is full and the other is being filled by the champagne bottle, just visible at the top of the image.

Image by knape via iStock.

Events will never the be-all-and-end-all of major donor fundraising.  Whilst they can be delightful, fun and a real talking point at home, they are more often than not an expensive distraction.

If you are going to hold any cultivation event then you must be clear on all twelve of these points:

  • Your event POO (purpose, objectives and outcomes).
  • Criteria for each guest e.g. qualified capacity to give over a certain level, knowledge that an event will make the difference.
  • Criteria for home team attendance – only those with clear roles to attend.
  • Nobody attends “because they ought to” outside of these clear criteria – guests, staff, trustees. Nobody.
  • Never less than three months’ notice and longer if you’re running an A and a B list so that the B listers still get their three months’ notice. This advice comes from donors.
  • A briefing on the day of the event for all home team.
  • A debrief the day after the event to download all of the actions, lessons, intelligence of the night.
  • A bespoke plan to follow up with every attendee.
  • No group asks – never stand up and ask the room to give a gift.
  • Smaller is better. You are trying to have meaningful conversations with your key donors – make sure you can do that in the event you’ve planned. You can’t do that in a room of 80 people.
  • Allow for plus ones in your numbers. But only for guests. Your home team are working, so they don’t get a plus one usually.
  • Consider the time of year – private school holidays, skiing season, busy social calendars in the run up to Christmas etc. People go away. You can’t change that.

To hold an event without due consideration of these factors is to risk that your event will turn into a jolly – no meaningful conversations with your key donors and not leading to gifts.

Give your major donor programme a health check now