Concerts. Deli Night. Art Auctions. Casino Night. Bingo.
These are just some of the fundraising event ideas that have become a staple for several synagogues, and local community organizations across North America.
And there was the annual bazaar at the local Armenian Church that was down the street from us that had the best Shish Kebab I ever tasted.
I have been reading several Blogs that have been discussing fundraising events. Which reminded me of a blog I wrote last year at this time. Last year’s blog was inspired by our synagogue’s Mishloach Manot project for Purim, which continues this year as well. Two weeks ago, I filled out the contribution form ($10 a greeting, with graduated amounts for increasing the number of greetings). The Purim package should be at our door early next week.
After last year’s effort, I asked my friend who is responsible for organizing everything what the results were in terms of income for the synagogue: $11,000 in gross income with $4,000-$5000 in expenses. And a lot of volunteer time on a Sunday to put together the packages, as well as for delivery.
So the return on investment (“ROI”) from this effort was $.45 – the synagogue spent $.45 for every dollar raised. In addition to volunteer and staff time.
People like receiving the packages. You see who sent you a greeting. There is candy and Hamentashen. This gives people good feelings, but doesn’t raise a ton of money.
I have to wonder if the synagogue would be better off in terms of fundraising by asking one person to give a gift of $10,000 to underwrite the costs of this program.
I received an email yesterday from Ken asking me what I thought about peer to peer fundraising. Ken’s synagogue has an enhanced dues program and like many synagogues, they are low key in the approach to asking congregants to participate – mailings, emails, occasional gatherings with a pitch with “soft-sell” emails as follow up.
Whether it is called peer to peer, or face to face, the more personalized – and in person -fundraising approach, the more effective it will be. Such personalized efforts should not be seen as a one shot deal. You don’t want the congregant who gave you $1000 or $5000 to participate in an enhanced dues effort to not hear from anyone at the synagogue about this special support until you approach them again next year. Calls from and meetings with clergy and synagogue leaders, special emails targeting those participating in the enhanced dues program, and even “by invitation only” thank you events should also be a part of this overall strategy.
As I have written before, events should be fun, and should be about building community. When preparing the budget 15 months before the end of the next fiscal year, the fundraising number you plug in for events will always just be a projection.
A donor, congregant centered approach where congregants are asked for in person for specific support is not only more predictable, the ROI will be far less than an approach reliant on events.