Friday, January 29, 2010

Independent Fundraising Events Bring Big Returns for Nonprofits

Everyone is scrambling for money these days.  Traditional fundraising is being challenged as more organizations have to become creative and perhaps try new things.  Blackbaud and Event 360 have completed a study on Independent Fundraising Events that you can download from their website.  There is also a February 3rd FREE seminar they are conducting that you might find interesting.  If you click on the title of this announcement above, it will take you straight to the whitepaper.  I hope this helps!  Bunnie

Independent Fundraising Events Bring Big Returns for Nonprofits:  Special Study from Blackbaud and Event 360.

(Online registrations, donations and fundraising per participant increasing in Blackbaud
and Event 360 analysis of 30,000 donors and 4,000 individual fundraisers)

In a time when overall fundraising is on the decline, independent fundraising events are raising more money and growing in participation and donors, according to a recent Blackbaud, Inc., (Nasdaq: BLKB) and Event 360, Inc. study. Independent fundraising events (IFE) are activities designed and run by volunteers to raise money on behalf of a specific nonprofit organization.

Blackbaud partnered with Event 360 on a research project to better understand the common denominators of a successful programmatic approach to third-party fundraising. The research team analyzed data from nearly 30,000 donors and 4,000 individual fundraisers who organized or participated in independent fundraising events on behalf of leading nonprofits including Alzheimer’s Association, Autism Speaks, Canadian Cancer Society’s BC and Yukon Division, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The analysis showed that online registrations, donations and fundraising per participant are increasing, and that IFEs represent a growing revenue source, especially online, for many organizations. Based on a Blackbaud assessment, there was an estimated $300 million raised in 2008 in the United States from these types of events, indicating that organizations should find better ways to cultivate these fundraisers and provide the solutions they need to succeed.

Mark Davis, Blackbaud’s director of technical solutions, and co-author of the study said that these trends support the need for a strong online user experience and justify the investment in sophisticated online tools, communications, and reporting.

“Typically, nonprofit organizations do not have the resources to hold events in every community or to invest in mass advertising and marketing efforts,” he said. “Through these IFEs, the organizational mission and message can be brought to communities across the nation. By offering an IFE program, an organization can build stronger, more loyal supporters, acknowledge their personal struggle, and honor supporters’ desire to act in impactful ways that match their passion with a nonprofit’s mission.”

In 2008, The Lance Armstrong Foundation supported 1,078 grassroots fundraisers in raising over $3.8 million with almost no cost to the organization. The average independent fundraiser raised more than $3,200 compared to the average $500 raised by participants in the organization’s signature fundraiser, the LIVESTRONG Challenge.

“Despite today’s difficult economic climate,” says Colleen R. Wilson, events fundraising manager for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, “we expect 2009 revenue totals in grassroots fundraising to outpace the 2008 total of $3.8 million at essentially zero cost to the organization.”

According to Meghan Dankovich, Event 360’s director of consulting and co-author of the study, the most successful IFE programs were found in organizations that embrace their “super volunteers.” “Traditional event organizers need to view independent fundraising as supplementary, not competitive, to their existing development portfolio,” she said. “In fact, 64 percent of the IFE participants we surveyed reported that they were first-time fundraisers for the organization. Most are directly impacted by the cause they support and are looking to take action in a more personal way than is available through the organization’s traditional event offerings.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation embraces its super volunteers by encouraging its supporters to find unique and creative ways to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. Team Fox provides guidance, tools, and resources for the thousands of individual fundraisers who are walking, running, blogging, jogging, paddling, pedaling, eating, drinking, shopping and dancing to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s research.

One particular super volunteer is Mary Anne O. of Illinois. First diagnosed in 2001 with early onset of Parkinson’s, she heard Michael J. Fox speak at a conference in 2006. His speech energized her to become a supporter for the cause. She combined her passion of gardening with an idea for a Garden Walk. Her success has grown from raising $25,000 in 2007 to over $52,000 in 2009 with help from a team of 25 volunteers.

Additional key findings from the study include:

• An IFE program offers a nonprofit the opportunity to raise money at a relatively low cost of fundraising, while providing a deeper level of engagement with the organization’s strongest supporters. The cost of fundraising for these programs was recorded between $0.10 and $0.15 per dollar raised – lower than any traditional fundraising methodology in a nonprofit’s development portfolio.

• Independent fundraisers are able to reach donors otherwise unattainable by the organization through their personal social networks.

• These “super volunteers” also spread awareness beyond the reach of the organization through these activities.

• With online activity increasing as a whole, managing an IFE program primarily via a website with online tools is feasible, effective, and significantly reduces the cost of operation.

• Because “the ask” is very personal from this type of supporter, it is also a more dependable source of income in tough economic times.

• An IFE program offers a nonprofit’s target audience a very personal form of involvement at an emotional level, where the passion of their fundraising typically raises more than the traditional fundraising event participant.

Visit or to download the entire study and to register for the February 3 web seminar, “Raising More Money Online from Independent Fundraising Events.” In addition, Cause Minded, will feature Mark Davis and Colleen Wilson in a February 23 webisode discussing managing and supporting third-party events. For more information, visit, or register here.

About Blackbaud

Blackbaud is the leading global provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to improve operational efficiency, build strong relationships, and raise more money to support their missions. Approximately 22,000 organizations — including University of Arizona Foundation, American Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, The Taft School, Lincoln Center, In Touch Ministries, Tulsa Community Foundation, Ursinus College, Earthjustice, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the WGBH Educational Foundation — use one or more Blackbaud products and services for fundraising, constituent relationship management, financial management, website management, direct marketing, education administration, ticketing, business intelligence, prospect research, consulting, and analytics. Since 1981, Blackbaud’s sole focus and expertise has been partnering with nonprofits and providing them the solutions they need to make a difference in their local communities and worldwide. Headquartered in the United States, Blackbaud also has operations in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

About Event 360

Event 360 is a event fundraising company helping nonprofits create powerful experiences that inspire record levels of interest, giving and loyalty. This strategy builds on over seven years of experience in event fundraising and production, strategic consulting, and technology services that have helped nonprofits raise over $500 million. Visit to learn how Event 360 can help your organization connect more donors with your cause.

You can contact Melanie Mathos at 843.216.6200 x3307 or


  1. This is a great post Dmitry. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advise. I get less comments than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.

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  2. For us to earn more money, Nonprofit fundraising software
    is another great tool to generate more income and raise more money.

  3. Online fundraisers that are used on making an online order a portion of their purchase is donated to the cause. This online fundraising is very easy and simple and can generate enough funds. There are also a lot of free fund raising web sites for online fundraising. Crowd funding is a new type of finance. It is simply a method of raising funds for a project or business by asking others for donations.

  4. Always nice to see nonprofits getting a boost from private fundraisers. Cheers!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this article, I've found this so interesting. I've recently discovered Tony Charalambides fundraising blog, you should check it out!

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