Organizations often hop into benefit planning without considering the costs, which can lead to disappointment and frustration. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, benefits typically raise $1 for every $0.50 spent. Organizations should really weigh their options for how to spend their limited money--staff time, advertising, food costs, etc.--and make sure a benefit is a smart investment. It can be hard to say "no" to a party, but sometimes that's the best option. For example, if a grant proposal won't get written because the event is being planned is that the smartest choice? For every dollar raised through grant writing an organization typically only spends $0.20, a pretty good return on investment.
In addition to considering the return on investment of a benefit, organizations need to think about who will do the work and what won't that person be doing while their focusing on the benefit. If volunteers and staff will be drawn away from the organization's mission for extended periods to focus on the event then that factor should be carefully considered. How will the people served by the organization and donors interpret that decision? Maybe everyone will continue doing their normal tasks and add event planning to their workload, which could be a great short-term solution, but how will it impact staff and volunteer morale over the longer term? For example, will volunteers be tired out by the close of the event and pull back from volunteering?
Nonprofits also should carefully consider what their goals are for having the event. Raising as much money as possible is a very different goal from showing appreciation to staff, volunteers, donors, and those served by the nonprofit. If the goals aren't clear then making informed decisions about how to spend money will be impossible.
Stay tuned for a post about the benefits of special events...