Leadership and The Workplace

Nonprofit Spark

Renee McGivern

Nonprofit Spark – Avoiding the highly contagious special events bug – 05/28/12

A recent article in Nonprofit Quarterly caught my eye. It asked if non-profit special events are an addiction, a kind of illness. I tracked down the source of the question and it was a workshop being offered in Indiana entitled, Avoiding the Highly Contagious Special Events bug. My guest on this week’s show co-authored an article about this for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and also, taught that workshop.

Now, there certainly can be a place for special events in a non-profit’s annual life, but what mostly happens is that the staff, board and volunteers are burned out afterward and have little desire to do any other kind of fundraising. Frankly, events often are an avoidance strategy for meeting with individual donors and asking for gifts and they limit a nonprofit’s capacity for growth. People are caught in a repetitive cycle of event, exhaustion, event, exhaustion and no energy is left to focus on planning and building a future.

On this show, Nick Parkevich and I talk about how you know if you’re infected with the special events bug, why that’s a problem, and strategies and tools for turning what could be addictive into a building block for strong donor relationships and major gifts.

Nick is a partner and consultant with Loring, Sternberg & Associates, a company that serves small to medium size nonprofits throughout the U.S. They focus on board fundraising and governance training; strategic planning; feasibility studies and more.

Prior to consulting, Nick served as the director of advancement at Damar Services, a disability services provider based in Central Indiana, where he led a $40 million campaign that doubled the number of clients that organization serves. See what a serious focus on fundraising can accomplish? He lives and breathes fundraising, and is passionate about making it a source of transformation for donors and organizations.

In the show, Nick mentions the book Asking by Gerald Panas. We both recommend you read it. In addition, listen to the interview I did last year with Mr. Panas. He is a masterful fundraising coach and every word he says is pure gold in the episode, Raising Money in Tough Economic Times.