Research is easy. Change isn’t.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time researching event trends both in the for-profit and non-profit space. It isn’t unusual to be in research phase, as we head toward 2017 planning season, but the difference this year for me, is my ability to be more objective about what information I should be looking for and how I should put it into action.

In the past, my planning approach looked something like this:

  1. Evaluate current event portfolio
  2. Determine which events to keep or sunset
  3. Analyze internal data to inform event growth strategies
  4. Determine incremental improvements that would add value but be cost effective
  5. Finalize organizational planning documents and budgets

There’s nothing wrong with this approach if your organization is in a growth stage. That is to say, if your brand affinity is getting stronger, your event revenue is increasing, and your retention rate is growing, that is likely a focused approach and efforts are well-directed.

However, if your metrics are less favorable, your event satisfaction is waning, and your staff’s excitement about next year is low, it may be time for a new approach. In fact, through all of my event research, my key finding was that nothing is working 100% of the time.

To me, that news is liberating.

It means that your 2017 planning can be more untraditional without the risk of missing the “silver bullet”. Because there isn’t one.

Consider the potential outcomes if you loosened the reigns, and your planning approach looked more like this:

  1. Discuss most valuable donor audiences
  2. Brainstorm vehicles which appeal to key audience interests and highlight your mission
  3. Determine how event fundraising can be more directly tied to programmatic efforts
  4. Build bridges with corporate and major giving team members to create collaborative strategies
  5. Diversify your event portfolio with proven and new ideas

If you’re eager to bring innovation and small wins to your non-profit in 2017, it may be time for a change in mindset. I firmly believe that exploring a new approach is simply time spent on trying something new. I’m happy to share my research with you so you can decide for yourself the best approach.  If you’d like a copy of my environmental scan, drop me an email at annemarie@findsmallwins.com. Happy planning!

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