Third party events can be a fundraiser’s dream. Someone, or some organization or company volunteer to take on every aspect of a fundraising event – all you have to do is give them your style guide so they can publicize you as the recipient, and when it’s over, they send you a check.
When they work, they’re brilliant. When they don’t…
Here’s some breaking news from California. I wouldn’t dream of commenting on rights and wrongs of this specific case – clearly the local news thinks there’s enough fishiness going on that they’re comfortable pursuing it publicly in expose style.
What I can say, is that this is a bad situation, regardless of what the ultimate details prove. Third party events are attractive to anyone worried about stretching a small staff and budget for fundraising purposes…but let this be a reminder to you, your executive leadership, your board, etc.:
- Don’t get into bed with anyone you don’t trust.
- Don’t let your name be used for an event you don’t understand (meaning – how will revenue come in? what are the general expenses? You don’t need control or oversight necessarily, but you should be able to at least sketch out the way the event works…bake sales are simple – a community fair can get complex, etc.)
- Don’t work with anyone who isn’t interested in transparency.
These are three great rules…and the first assumes that you aren’t taking trust lightly. You have a duty to your organization and stakeholders to explore good ways of bringing new visibility and funding in. But you’re also charged with risk management, and have equal duty to protecting the good name of the organization…and preserving donor trust.
I have no idea how many folks who enjoy a Zombie Walk will see the KRIS-TV report and be motivated to make their donations direct to CASA in the future. For any organization, it’s always a challenge to turn event participants into regular, non-event supporters. But however big the check is if it ever reaches the CASA coffers, that’s the least of the worries all around.