I saw a post on a fundraising forum recently asking for suggestions for a venue that could be hired for the cause they worked for to run a supporter evening. That’s missing an opportunity.
Increasingly I’ve come to realise that when you need something it’s an opportunity for engagement. So in the case of a venue the question you should really be asking is – which of our partners could help us?
It’s all to easy, especially if you operate in a bigger organisation, to spend a bit of budget to hire a place that fits the bill. My point here is not the savings you make from a partner providing a venue at little or no cost. It’s the engagement with that partner that you get as a result. Here are five benefits by thinking and taking a different approach though using a partner:
- For starters they will feel good about helping you out in an alternative way to donating. Increasingly donors, especially companies, are after ways they can provide added value. A venue is one obvious example (although there will be many others).
- They might be willing to invite their contacts to the event you are running at their venue or a key representative at the partner organisation may attend (after all its their door step!).
- It’s a chance at the event for you to acknowledge the partnership you have with them too. Perhaps you could do a blog about the event – helping associate you with the partner helping you out and reminding people about the original reason they support you.
- And what’s really great is you can often focus your resources on the content and the guests you want to invite rather than worrying about the technical side or even the catering – and if someone has a venue they can offer it often comes with all these services and people who take all that worry away. Sometimes they are even willing to fund that side too.
- Often such venues add to the attraction of attending. At SolarAid we’ve held events at the Google building, the wonderful Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, and recently at the Institute of Physics in central London.
The quick and simple (lazy?) solution is find a place and hire it. But then you miss out on all the benefits above. Of course it doesn’t have to be a supporter event – it could simply be an off site workshop you are running internally. Or for that matter any problem or need you have. We had a fun example of this at SolarAid, when a member of staff from Malawi wanted to see a football match whilst in the UK. Instead of simply solving it we posed the problem and got the best result possible : free directors box tickets to see Chelsea vs Newcastle ! For more thoughts on this, and the football story, see my post : Advertise your problems.
So from the outset, if you think engagement, if that’s your mindset, then you will see any need you have as an opportunity to engage.