Judging a Nonprofit by its Gala

This is Part 2 in a mini-series that asks – how do people determine which organizations deserve their donations? While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or as a sign in my local library reminded me – you shouldn’t judge a book by its movie), should you judge a nonprofit by its direct mail?  Board?  Staff?  Physical Location?  Articles in the newspaper?  Facebook page?  Should you be judging a nonprofit by its gala?

Problem:  The volunteers for specific high profile events are often people who only work on that one event and may not be familiar with the entire breadth and depth of the organization.  Or, perhaps, they are acutely focused on an activity area that is mentioned at the event. This can translate into missing information or even misinformation provided to the many peripheral attendees and fellow volunteers.

Friends and fellow attendees might not understand the breadth and depth of you amazing work and determining whether you are a worthy investment of their donation based on very few facts.

Solution:  Provide an overview of the entire organization, its mission and goals during each and every meeting – even gala meetings. While this may seem like overkill, there are ways that this can be done that will seem inspirational to those in attendance.

There are many ways that this can be done but if you are going to do this on a regular basis – make sure to keep it brief and informative.  Share a couple of interesting stories that happened recently – in related and unrelated areas. Highlight a beneficiary (respecting any confidentiality issues) or special program that shows the spectrum of the organization’s reach (a little warm fuzzy feeling can go a long way).  Or, consider starting one well-attended meeting with a review of the overall mission of the organization.  Make sure to ask volunteers to talk about what the organization means to them.  It will highlight how many different perspectives there are as well as reminding everyone that in the middle of this massive amount of work, they are working for and towards a worthy goal.

For more ideas on how your organization is perceived, consider reading:  Judging a Nonprofit by its Messaging and Judging a Nonprofit by its Board