Third Party Special Events – Three Easy Steps

Fortunately nonprofits have passionate friends and followers who host fundraising events to support the organization. For many, many years, these events have run the gambit from car washes and bake sales to pub crawls and dance-a-thons.

Today third party events have gone virtual allowing friends to host virtual events on the web. More on that in the next blog post. For now let’s make sure you have the tools to effectively engage those who want to help, watch your staff time effectively and protect the organization reputation and tax status.

Step One – Third Party Event Policies
If you have friends hosting events for your organization, you need to have a third-party event policy. If you have one, it may only apply to in-person/live third party activities. Time to get it updated to reflect on-line fundraisers! If you don’t have one, write one NOW. Event hosts and organizations need to be transparent about how much money was raised and expenses need to be in line with industry standards. You also have to protect the reputation of your agency. There is more scrutiny than ever on fundraising practices. We can educate event hosts about expectations through established policies to clarify expectations for everyone. The policy is black and white and eliminates and personal judgments on whether to approve an event or not. Your policy should include:

  • Use of name and logo =reputation
  • Revenue v. expense ratios
  • Minimum net revenues to receive organization support
  • Writing checks to the organization
  • Tracking and thanking donors/participants
  • Legal, financial, publicity and approval policies and guidelines
  • Staff support expectations

Take a look at these policies for some ideas. Please note, none include virtual event policies but can and should be adapted for changing times.
Tidewell Hospice and Palliative Care
Network of Strength
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
William Osler Health Centre Foundation
Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center

Template you can use

Step Two – Publicizing Your Policy
Now that you have a policy in place, you should engage those interested in supporting your mission.

  • Place your policy on your website
  • When folks call who want to host an event send them the policy
  • If you see or hear about someone hosting an event in your honor, make sure they are aware of your policy
  • Ask you Board members to host an event and/or ask their friends to do the same
  • Proactively reach out to community service and professional associations to ask them to host an event in your honor
  • Reach out to retailers opening new stores or corporations hosting sales meetings

Step Three – Follow Up
Once a supporter has hosted their event, follow up is critical not only to thank them for their efforts, but cultivate them for the next time. Third party event hosts should receive your e-news or newsletter, email updates, invite them to events. We should be engaging with these special donors to help them help us.

  • Host a special event just for third party hosts
  • Call them quarterly to say hello
  • Invite them to your annual meeting, special events and perhaps other third party events
  • Create a special e-newsletter just for them, sharing tips and ideas from other hosts
  • Create a photo album on your website or through Flickr etc. with third party event pics
  • Use the social media for them
  • Create a Twitter profile for all things third party
  • Use Facebook to publicize their events

Share your ideas for third party event policies and engagement! Thanks for reading, please share with your colleagues.

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