Planning the wrong date can lead to an empty fundraiserThe ‘big’ free clinic in town had been hosting their annual art walk with a Saturday evening fundraiser on the same weekend in May for the last 20 years. The smaller local free clinic had decided that it too would hold its own annual gala dinner dance, with an art theme, on that same weekend.

When the small clinic’s executive director wondered if this might possibly be a conflict (duh!) the response was that this weekend was the most convenient for the chair of the board and the largest individual donor.

Too Much Ego – Not Enough Wego!

1 month out and it was clear that the pull of the Board Chair and her "famous friend" weren’t going to bring in the attendance; the staff scrambled, called, emailed and just barely eeked out enough tickets to cover the minimums. Even though the event was executed perfectly and the people who did attend had a great time – the room was still half empty.

Check the Calendar to make sure you are not conflicting with another fundraising eventThe Executive Director lost count of the number of people who told her about their friends who would have loved to have come but were up the road at the big clinic’s annual event; maybe she could move the date next year?

The Lesson

Do your homework, know what else is scheduled for the same date. What else is going on that weekend? Check the Masterplanner – an online listing of major charity events in major cities, check the community calendars for the city. You might be the most popular person in your crowd, but long established traditions are often difficult to break.

Got a war story of your own? Leave it in the comments below.
If you’d like some help with a fundraising event you’re planning, get in touch.

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This is part 6 of an 8 part series in "What not to do when planning your Fundraising event".

1 – Death, Taxes and the other Unavoidable, the Weather
2 – I Love Planning Parties!
3 – Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan, then Drink
4 – Volunteers are Not Paid Staff
5 – Not Managing the Schedule
7 – Not Thinking of the Small Picture
8 – Not Saying Thank You

Image Credits:
Ballroom A, Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN by Zach K on Flickr
Schedule by Marco Buonvino on Flickr