Producing Events for Non-Profit vs. For-Profit
At Mark Stephen Experiential Agency, we produce a number of events throughout the year for not-for-profit organizations as well as for-profit organizations. Although some firms may specialize in only one type of client, we embrace a mix of the two types of events. Through the years we have discovered a few things that affect the way we approach each of these programs. Here are a few insights that have been helpful in evaluating how we approach our client mix.
- Objective: Corporations produce events for mostly marketing purposes; most of the funds come out of the “marketing” budget. A non-profit’s main goal is usually for fundraising purposes. Knowing each objective is crucial in the proposal and planning stages. For example, a client wanted to deck a pool for a fundraiser, which would result in a budget increase. The client informed us that decking the pool would allow them to add 100 more guests at $1000 per person. The result would be a huge return on investment.
- Partnership: When working with corporate clients, we strive to provide value by creating the best event for the budget. When working with non-profits it’s not only expected that you provide value but also be willing to give back to the organization. This can come in the form of donated services, in-kind donations, discounts, a year-end financial donation, or a combination of all. Donations to the charity add good will and show your commitment to the cause. When working with non-profits, the key is that you believe in the organization and its mission.
- Budget: Just because a company is a non-profit doesn’t mean there is little or no budget to produce a program that will sustain the producer’s financial needs. Remember your firm still needs to generate enough revenue to sustain your overhead and pay your vendors while creating something that you are proud of. This applies to for-profits also. Some of the largest events today are for non-profit organizations such as the Met Gala and the Robin Hood Foundation Gala.
- Recurring Opportunities: Because non-profits produce events to generate revenue for the organization, successful events will most likely be repeated year after year. It can be a recurring source of revenue for both the organization and your company. Although for-profits may repeat a program annually, changes in management, marketing objectives, and budgets may influence whether a program gets repeated on a consistent basis. As a result, we find our non-profit clients a more predictable source of revenue over time. We use this opportunity to create multi-year contracts, which allows both parties to project cost and revenue into the future.
Ultimately, the projects and clients that we decide to partner with depend a great deal on the people. In most cases, for-profits that produce events on a regular basis have a team of experienced event professionals on their side. Non-profits may or may not have a dedicated event team and even those that do have an event staff, who may be stretched in their responsibilities in addition to such tasks as fundraising and client relations. When determining the mix of clients in the for-profit or not-for-profit sector, it is key that you generally believe in the work of the organization and can generate a reasonable cash flow for your services.