The unexpected turn of events
Marathons, mud runs, team trials and immersive experiences – it seems like there’s an event for everyone in today’s eclectic market. We saw rapid growth in the events sector up to 2016, with a 700% increase in online fundraising and events pages.
The explosion of options left budding participants spoilt for choice. But as the market matures and begins to slow, where does this leave the charity trying to make its mark in the events space? In an increasingly competitive and crowded market beset by sponsorship fatigue, are we wise to continue chasing the next big thing?
I’m looking forward to mulling this over with the sector’s finest at June’s IoF Events Conference, and to learning more about the next generation of events that we’ve all been busy creating. Cancer Research UK and Macmillan continue to lead the field with their headline offerings but events like BHF My Marathon, Save the Children’s Forced to Flee and The National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information have really stretched boundaries and set a new standard for innovation in events.
I know many fundraisers are questioning whether it’s the right time to invest further, or if they should scale back and leave events to the big players. The MOB (Mud, Obstacles and Beer) events of the past few years seem to have reached a peak, and nearly every iteration of messy things to run through has been explored. Event places are starting to go unfilled and returns on investment are being squeezed. But before rushing to retreat, we should all consider: what role do events play in our fundraising portfolios as a whole?
In my experience, events more than earn their place, bringing a vital experience element to the Give Buy Pledge Do mix. As well as a steady unrestricted income stream, they often offer the most high-profile and accessible ways for the public to engage with your brand. They’re a fantastic acquisition tool, and as the shifting demographics of the new generation of events testify, they help charities to reach new and non-traditional audiences.
The question remains how charities can position themselves to maximise their advantage and cut through in a competitive environment. At Save the Children, we’re increasingly focussed on the role events play in driving brand love and creating amazing supporter experiences. The best new events will be those that align really closely to the charity, its cause and its message.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk is a brilliant example and is one of the fastest growing events in the country. The challenge is how to identify and explore the specific attributes in our organisations that will help to reach into new audience groups and drive brand benefits. If we can do that, the place of events in the fundraising mix will be more powerful than ever.
Claire Rowney, Executive Director of Fundraising & Marketing at Save the Children and speaker at the upcoming IoF Events Conference.
Learn more about the future of events fundraising at the IoF Events Fundraising Conference, 18 June 2018. View the programme and secure your place.