Why I hate events

I’m just back from New York City. Yes, I know it’s terrible the sacrifices I have to make in this job. Although as I keep saying, to general total lack of sympathy it has to be said, you try this amount of economy class travel and tell me then that it’s glamorous..

I’d never been to NYC before, oddly enough. Of course I loved it, the sheer energy and drama of the place is wonderful to behold. I met lots of really great people, bursting with ideas and ambition and very willing to help Sightsavers as we try and become more established in the US.

Not all of the ideas did I love equally. Lots of people were keen to tell me that they way to break this notoriously tough fundraising markets was to hold lots of events. Gala dinners and the like. That was the way to reach the great and the good.

Now it’s probably not much of a surprise to hear that such events are not something I particularly enjoy. Have you seen me in a tuxedo? I rest my case.. But it’s not just because I don’t like attending such affairs that I really dislike them.

I think they are bad fundraising. Events fail all of the principles of a good fundraising programme. They are one off, by their very nature. They are high risk. They are very expensive not just in money but in time and effort. And the focus isn’t on the cause it’s on the venue, the entertainment and the guests.

I know events work for some organisations and if they do, that’s fine with me. But for many organisations I think they are a distraction. Costs are often widely underestimated because only direct costs are included. But indirect costs are often huge with massive amounts of a charity’s time and energy been taken up to achieve a best marginal financial returns.

Events are often advertised as a great way to build relationships with major donors but I think that’s a myth. Big events, like galas might get a lot of rich people to them but it doesn’t mean they are interested in your cause and the event itself will do little to engage them. Far better to get an existing major donor to host a dinner at their house for six carefully selected prospects.

Feel free to disagree with me and continue with your glitzy event programme. But please, don’t invite me

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