As a professional fundraiser, I have a bias against big fundraising events. While they may gross a lot of money for a charity, when you subtract the costs of putting the event on, most of them don't actually net that much. And then, when you add up the value of the staff time that goes into putting on the event, they make MUCH less money! My biggest beef is that most charities don't really use their fundraising events well. It's not just about who is in the room that night... it's about how you follow up with those folks throughout the year to make them ongoing friends of, and donors to, your organization.
That being said, I recently read a great column in Fast Company magazine by Nancy Lublin, the CEO of Do Something. She wrote about a big event that Do Something recently had in New York. They raised money, had high-voltage celebrities, and honored "five amazing youths for doing amazing things, from building an orphanage in Nepal to registering thousands of new voters." However, the event did not generate nearly the PR buzz that they had hoped. Her column includes some great tips. Here's my favorite:
At the beginning of an event, most people ask people to turn their cell phones off. We should be asking people to turn their cell phones on! (but, says Lauren, keep them on vibrate). That way, people can tweet, blog, and update their Facebook status during the event.
Read more of her great event tips HERE.