Camp Gallipoli - Issues and Opportunities in Event Based Fundraising

Posted on May 4, 2016

ANZAC charity Camp Gallipoli is at the centre of major controversy this week after being accused of acting improperly and dishonestly. 

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs instructed his department to investigate the group after allegations were made that the charity did not pass on fundraising money to its nominated beneficiaries.

Camp Gallipoli hosts campouts under the stars the night before ANZAC Day.  Tens of thousands of Australians, including many school students, pay a fee to participate in the sleep out. This has an educational as well as fundraising goal.

Camp Gallipoli’s Chris Fox says: “In year one we broke even. There was no cash distribution made and therefore any gift to RSL and to Legacy by way of cash didn't occur. The costs are audited by Price Waterhouse Coopers, there's no furphies when it comes to costs."

Unfortunately, no charity with experience in events would be surprised to hear this. Event-based fundraising is not always successful. As fundraising consultants, Social Impact Institute sees this regularly and are often called in to address the issues after a failed event.

Financial losses occur in charity events for a number of reasons. The more spectacular the event, the more it costs. With quality entertainment costing up to $50,000, venues costing tens of thousands of dollars, and catering eating up profits, there is little wonder when nothing is left over from ticket sales, auctions and raffles.

There can also be difficulties with public perception when ticket prices are high and supporters find themselves spending $300-$400 on an event. When percentage costs reach 60-90 percent, and losses quite common, the net profit at the end of the night can sound unacceptable.  Not only that, but if events are the major source of income for a charity, it’s simply unsustainable and the reason many celebrity charities like the Pat Rafter Foundation or the Shane Warne Foundation only lasted a few years before closing down.

How can you ensure your events make a positive contribution to your fundraising program?

There are several things you can do to ensure greater success for fundraising events.

  1. Volunteer committees are a boon for charity events. This reduces staffing costs and often includes a high level of ownership. Volunteers see this as a way of contributing to their cause.
  2. Donated prizes. Committee members often draw from their networks of friends and business connections to attend the event and provide prizes.
  3. Peer to peer sponsorship. Social Impact Institute Fundraising Consultant Alana Zerek was previously part of the events team responsible for delivering Oxfam Trail Walks in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. She says that the financial success of Oxfam Trail Walker was due to consistently high levels of peer to peer sponsorship. Each team had a minimum fundraising target and, with support, many teams go on to raise more than this minimum commitment. This also allows the organisation to more accurately measure how the event is performing financially. Now, despite the event’s costs, peer to peer fundraising means that Oxfam Trail Walker continues to deliver millions of dollars and attract new supporters every year.
  4. Run Smaller events. These can be just as profitable as large events! Instead of creating a large event with equivalent costs, invite ten donors who are most likely to give substantially to a donated boardroom lunch.  At least when percentage costs are much less, you create an opportunity for percentage profit to be a lot higher.
  5. Target regular donorship as an outcome of your event. With the platform to promote your cause and the goodwill an event always brings, asking guests to become regular donors should be a natural and logical extension of your event.
  6. Tight budgeting is essential for successful events. Your goal is to maximise donations and discounts for venues, entertainment, drinks and other key costs. Only include costs that you know you can afford and maximise your profit per participant.   

With the right preparation and an eye on the end profit, an event can be a very important contributor to your fundraising mix.

Social Impact Institute services are available throughout Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and regional areas. Call us on 1800 822 763 to have a chat and book your consultation. 

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