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The School Fundraising Portfolio: 3 Types of Events

Posted by Scott Barron on Apr 9, 2014 8:47:16 PM
Scott Barron

Dollar Compass

When planned and executed wisely, fundraising events are part of a cohesive portfolio intended to advance the mission and vision of the school. Here are three different types of events to consider:


Activity Event


This is an event built around some sort of activity or “-thon.” We’re big fans of Chris Carneal and the Boosterthon team who have built a process for growing relationships with donors through their Funrun event. Whether you use Booster or a similar program, an event like this can help reach people who are not currently giving to your school, expanding your database throughout the year.

Every event should feature the school's value proposition--your “why” is the most critical part of the shared vision being cultivated with donors. It has to be something they can genuinely say: “I believe in that.” It’s not just about the event--feature the vision!

Large Gatherings

One fundraising model uses a series of "Ask" and "Connect" events to make large gathering events more successful. Since fundraising is a process, it should be repeatable and continuously improved. A well crafted "ask" is critical, ensuring that donors empathetically feel the emotion behind the impact on your students.

Story is the key! Donors are not as motivated by need as they’re motivated by story. You're not there simply to entertain nor to make friends. This is an Ask where it’s all about the money! As the plan emerges remember that in order to ensure the funding needed is achieved.

Parlor Events

Small gatherings, or “parlor events,” are also valuable in the fundraising portfolio. Typically these include up to five donors who have the capacity and commitment to make a major investment. Sometimes this phase of the process includes a micro-campaign for each major donor that focuses on specifics relationships and areas of interest. Large gifts will most likely come from someone who has given previously--the first gift is usually the smallest.

Because you have built trusting relationships with the invited donors, these small events enable you to directly ask them to be a leader in making your shared vision a reality. High capacity donors are generally successful business people and will be looking at this as an investment. Consequently, they will be asking tough questions that you must be prepared to answer. Adopt their vocabulary and talk in terms of their interests because they need confidence in the proposed return on investment and in your ability to deliver on your promises.

Topics: Fundraising, Events

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