It’s time to build your nonprofit’s fundraising plan for 2019. You know what you did last year and your goals for the year to come. But in your rush to create an airtight fundraising plan, it can be very easy to overlook a critical factor: what other nonprofit events are doing.

If you don’t know what other nonprofit events have planned for 2019, you’ll be stuck in your own status quo. Stand out to donors by learning what the broader nonprofit industry is investing in — so you can innovate to hit your aggressive fundraising goals.

As part of the 2019 Eventbrite Pulse Report, we surveyed 500+ nonprofits about how they use events to fundraise. Here are the trends and benchmarks you need to know to shape your own fundraising efforts.

About the respondents: Most respondents work at smaller nonprofits (49% 2-24 employees, 20% 25-250 employees). 38% host 2-5 events per year, and 21% host more than 25 events per year.

The most common types of events nonprofits are organizing

The great majority — 78% — of nonprofits most frequently host cause, community, and educational events. Not surprisingly, 32% of them also host galas and fundraisers. But a significant portion of nonprofits also throw:

  • Networking events (37%)
  • Training and workshops (33%)
  • Food and drink events (31%)
  • Arts and entertainment events (22%)

This variety of formats makes sense when you break down why nonprofits create events in the first place. In addition to raising funds and motivating donations, nonprofits host events to:

  • Raise awareness for their cause (43%)
  • Build community (63%)
  • Offer training or education (64%)

If your primary goal is community awareness, but your events are all exclusive galas, you may be missing an opportunity to connect with donors in a new way.

Pro tip: Whatever type of event your nonprofit hosts, make sure it’s a success. Read The A-Z of Event Planning for Nonprofits.

Top revenue sources for nonprofit events

Revenue is critical to call any nonprofit event a success. Here are nonprofit events’ largest revenue drivers:

  • 75% ticket sales
  • 63% sponsorships
  • 58% grants or donations

Yes, ticket sales are a main source of revenue for nonprofits. But exactly how much of their revenue comes from ticket sales varies wildly:

  • 15% say it’s between 80-100%
  • But for a quarter, it’s less than 20%

The takeaway: If you’re like many other nonprofits, you have to diversify your revenue to meet your goals.

Pro tip: Use this list of fundraising ideas to think bigger about your fundraising goals.

How nonprofits spend their events budgets

Keep costs in line is vital to have the most funds left for your cause at the end of a fundraising event. But some expenses are unavoidable. Here are nonprofit events’ top line items:

  • Food and beverage expenses (61%)
  • Facility rental (58%)
  • Programming costs (41%)
  • Staffing (31%)

This year, 59% of nonprofit event creators expect their budget to hover around the same figure. But across the board, they expect those big expenses to increase.

Pro tip: Pad your budget with these tips for nonprofits to price their sponsorship offerings.

How nonprofits select a venue for their fundraising events

With facility rental such a huge line item, how do nonprofits go about selecting venues? Here are the factors they consider “very important”:

  • Cost (87%)
  • Location (84%)
  • Flexibility of space (67%)
  • Capacity (65%)
  • Accessibility (60%)

Lesser factors include sustainability, accreditation, and available public transportation. But fewer nonprofit event creators prioritize these factors.

You, on the other hand, just might. For example, if your nonprofit has an environmental cause, a sustainable venue might be very important to you. Or if your audience is going to be commuting from far-flung neighborhoods, public transportation might be very important.

Pro tip: Regardless of your priorities in choosing a venue, read The 6 Event Venue Questions NPOs Should Ask to Raise More Funds

The most effective marketing tactics for nonprofit events

Nonprofit event creators say that their most effective marketing tactics are:

  • Email (34%)
  • Word of mouth/referrals (24%)
  • Social media marketing (22%)

On social media specifically, nonprofit events rely on organic posts (23%), paid Facebook ads, and video (9%).

Of course, not every marketing tactic can be a slam dunk. Less effective marketing techniques include third-party listings, search engine optimization (SEO), and display ads.

The takeaway? You might want to rethink spending money on display ads if they’re not highly effective for your events. Instead, tap into your network to take advantage of word of mouth and referrals.

Pro tip: Sign up for Eventbrite’s Event Marketing Course and Certification to make your marketing more effective.

Top challenges facing nonprofit event professionals in 2019

Looking ahead in 2019, the biggest challenges for nonprofit event creators include:

  • Reaching new attendees (73%)
  • Securing sponsors (46%)
  • Insufficient budget (45%)

Getting a gauge for what other events are doing will help you tackle all these challenges with finesse this year. Get more insights into the events industry at large in the full 2019 Pulse Report.

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