Do Your Participants Plan Your Nonprofit’s Event? | npENGAGE

Do Your Participants Plan Your Nonprofit’s Event?

By on Jul 19, 2016


The biggest hurdle many nonprofits face in raising more money from their peer-to-peer event is a lack of time—there isn’t enough time to engage team captains, cultivate top fundraisers, organize volunteers, or segment communications.

But what if I told you that the best addition you could make to your event staff won’t cost you a dime?

Your event participants.

From 2003-2005, I had the pleasure of working with a team of Ride For Roswell participants and volunteers who met monthly to plan and improve their event.

That’s right—participants and volunteers had taken partial ownership of the event.

This event planning committee was empowered to generate new ideas, prioritize initiatives and make decisions, in collaboration with the nonprofit’s staff person (yours truly).

They brainstormed great ideas. They led specific areas like logistics, marketing, safety, teams and volunteers. They did a lot of work—much more than one staff person could have done on their own.

In the past 13 years, that event has grown from $330,000 to $4.5 million raised per year.

Do your participants help plan your event?

If not, it’s time to consider it. Here’s why:

  • Your nonprofit’s event staff can only do so much. And there are participants and volunteers out there who would do more, if asked.
  • Event participants can offer a unique perspective that you won’t find among your coworkers. They’ve gone through the registration, fundraising, pick up, starting line, and post-party experience in a way that your coworkers haven’t.
  • They’ve heard the chatter from teammates and other participants about what they love and what they hate about your event.
  • They may even be more passionate about your event than you or some of your coworkers. Many who want to help have been personally impacted by your mission.
  • What they may lack in fundraising knowledge, they more than make up in their ability to organize logistics, motivate participants, manage volunteers, rally teams, expand corporate partnerships and much more.
  • You could even make the argument that they’re more qualified to improve next year’s event than most new hires would be.

Sure, not all of their ideas will be great. But, if you utilize these participants properly, they’ll be invested in your event and work hard to make it a success.

Next month, I’ll dive more into how to get a participant planning committee started.


Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

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