As we continue to ramp up for the spring event season, I want to bring a strategic data point to your attention for thought and consideration. There are many data points that show that the participation at events is moving up, but at a slower rate than previous years and the event donation value of each participant at events is also moving up. These key points were recently shared in the Peer-to-Peer Benchmark Study released earlier this year.
As organizations plan for their events, one thing I would like to consider is the value after the event should be considered too. Everyone wants more bang for their buck, so as we are thinking about participation rates, number of volunteers needed to help with the events, number of team captains, etc., let’s also consider the value after the event.
So, what does that mean?
There is a hypothesis out there in the market that if I am a participant and a donor, I will be more valuable to the organization than if I am just a donor. This makes sense, right? If I am going to give up my time and my money, I should be more committed? Some data points are showing us that this is not always the case.
Convio brought together the donation and event participant data and asked this question – what is the value of a donor who is a participant vs. a non-participant? Do they (participants and donors) have more longevity? Below is a quick list of our findings:
- Donors who are also participants show less value per year no matter the year in which they are acquired.
- As seen by the chart on the right, the participants who are also donors have a lower total donor value (across the organization) no matter the number of gifts. So those donors who are more committed – giving more total donations over his/her lifetime – still have a higher value as non-participants than participants.
These data points show us that our hypothesis is wrong not only at the value per year but also is showing that as my commitment to the organization grows (measured by the number of gifts lifetime), there is not a positive influence on commitment of those who are also participants.
Many of you may be thinking “gosh…that is not what I expected to see” and I would say, agreed!
However, I think that the story here is that the stories we hear in the marketplace about donors who are also participants and their longevity and great value are told by those organizations that have made a bit of headway down that constituent engagement journey. Therefore, we anticipate that no matter the organization, this must be the case. However, the organizations that see this occurrence of greater value from donor/participants for the most part are communicating to this cohort a bit differently though they may not know it. They may have implemented some post-event communication that a donor who is not a participant of course wouldn’t see. So, this slight change in organizational behavior improves the trend of greater cohort value where as those organizations that are not able to see the trend, may find that the communication needs to be modified to see if there is an impact.
What can we do to change this?
- Make sure that your organizations can see the donation and participation data in the same plane. Only if the data is together can we show if we have a positive or negative influence pattern based on participation status.
- If there is a current donor who is also participating, test the cultivation communication after the event to see if mentioning results from the event, pictures, Twitter feed comments from the event with the donor in the cultivation stream.
- Think about ways to recognize donors who also participate in a newsletter or online communication. Most people need to follow an example, and as we improve the value of those who are donors and participants, how can we spotlight them to challenge others to join?