Monday, February 14, 2011

Can Your Education Events Help You to Raise Money?

Is one of your goals to educate the community? When you educate others do you do so in a way that enhances fundraising? Is it possible to educate and leave your audience more committed to your cause? The answer is yes. Here is an example:

A hospital foundation holds an annual education luncheon. The event’s cost covers it’s cost. The goal is to educate the community and enhance donor relationships. Staff and board members are on-hand to greet and welcome guests. The event’s one page double-sided program contains two brief presenter bios and the day’s events. It includes a paragraph noting that the event’s sponsor had, “through the generosity of the community, provided $4.5 million to advance oncology in the community.” A slide show throughout the event shows the foundation’s logo. All this is basic. You’ve seen these elements before and include many if not all of them in your events.

The Difficult But Worthwhile Difference to Replicate

The main program consisted of two doctors sharing the latest breakthroughs in their field. Sprinkled throughout their presentations they referenced, and in one case showed pictures, of new equipment purchased by the Foundation. They shared how it helped their work. They shared how it made a difference in the lives of their patients. While one can argue that this was self-serving, since the doctors were thanking donors for their gifts and hoping for more, the impression the doctors gave was one of grateful humbleness (not always a common doctor trait) for having access to cutting-edge tools. One never sensed it was a commercial. Instead, it was a sharing of facts from their perspective and the equipment was a natural part of the breakthroughs.

The event left one educated about newest advances—some of which attendees will remember a week later. More than facts, the education attendees got was an understanding of the foundation’s case. Buying new equipment, in this age of quick technology turnover is not exciting. What is exciting? Giving to enhance my hospital, to make it more competitive, to provide residents (including possibly me and my family) local quality care and creating grateful dedicated doctors.

This community education event did double duty and more. Do your education events do as much for your cause? For more ideas about how to develop income for your organization see the many articles, podcasts and other resources on our website.