The 'cost of living' is hot on everyone's minds right now. And there are a lot of assumptions on how this will affect community and events fundraising.
First things first, let’s get some facts out there.
Current data suggests that the average household’s disposable income will be down by 7% over the next two years
People are considering whether they can still give to charity. Enthuse’s donor pulse report in 2022 showed a trend that increasing numbers of people people were concerned about being able to afford to give to charity
And yes, it is seemingly a lot harder to get people to sign up to our events. Enthuse’s same report showed that in previous years around half of under 65s had signed up to a charity challenge event but in 2022, this dropped to around a third.
We also need to remember that with any big picture situations, we are not all in the same boat. We cannot simply make sweeping statements such as “no-one has any money right now” “people won’t give” etc.
Because the fact is, many people do have money to give, many people are still taking part in fundraising, and many people still want to support the causes they are passionate about.
We cannot make assumptions about our wide and diverse groups of supporters based on the media reports or our own personal feelings. Remember – we are not our donors.
Did you know...
Community (and events) are 'recession proof'
Some of us have been in this fundraising game a little while and seen a recession or two. In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, giving in the UK showed itself to be largely recession-proof (Cowley et al, 2011). The value of donations increased in times of economic growth and did not fall at the same rate as the economy during periods of recessions.
When disposable income is tighter, we are more likely to spend money on experiences and memories with friends and loved ones than ‘stuff’.
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." Forbes, 2016
Eventbrite also recently shared that there is a 53% increase in searches for experiential events.
So what does this mean for you when planning your fundraising?
First of all, I recommend asking yourself these questions;
What is the event experience you are offering your supporters?
What do your supporters or target audience value?
What are your supporters or target audience motivations?
How are you competing with not just other charities – but the for profit experiential events popping up every day.
How are you tapping into what is 'on trend'? Can you use tools like Pinterest Predicts to help you craft something unique?
Is there ‘something different/instagrammable' or that gives social media bragging rights. A Celebrity, an exclusive, location, unique experience.
And once you get into the details of your planning, here are three practical things you can do to add to the experience - and increase your income.
1. How can you use food or drinks as a selling point and moment? Think about all of the crazy cocktails at themed bars or the Yorkshire pudding wraps that were everywhere this Christmas.
2. Can you offer different ticket levels to account for different budgets - remembering we are not all in the same boat. Basic tickets, deluxe with additional opportunities, then VIP with luxury add-ons can be straight forward ways of increasing profitability and appealing to a variety of audiences.
3. Photographs and video opportunities. We want to remember our memories. Can you set up digital photo or video booths. What about a selfie station? If you have celebrities there, would they be willing to help you raise more where people pay to take their photos with a celebrity? Or have a unique 'behind the scenes' experience for VIP ticket holders?
Example: A children’s hospice I worked at once did this for ‘an evening with’ style event and I’ve never seen money raised so fast – women were literally throwing money at us to get their selfies!
Overall my top tip is to remember to truly inspire and engage event attendees you need to create an experience.
What will make your supporter chose to value this event or activity?