Philanthropic potential is fleeting

The lights are low and the buzz is high. Silverware is clinking, people are happily chatting over some light background music while wait staff deftly move throughout the room. The energy is slowly building, and everyone at your event is having a great time.

You can see the energy in this room as people start to network other tables. Time to start the auction!
You can see the energy in this room as people start to network other tables. Time to start the auction!

That buzz permeating your event is philanthropic potential. It is the result of months of planning and preparation, an ephemeral “vibe” that you and your committee work so hard to create. It is fleeting, it is delicate, and if you wait too long, it will dissipate into the ether, unused. Wasted.

It is up to you to capitalize on the philanthropic potential of your event, and make the most of your potential while it is at its peak. This often means cutting your guests’ “social time” short, and asking them to focus on the needs you have asked them to help you meet.

Efficiently utilizing your attendees’ time and attention to help you achieve your mission is your right. If you have properly communicated the message of your event beforehand, your guests will be ready to help your fundraising efforts succeed. Instead of putting your fundraising auction off until the very end of the evening, conduct your auction and fund-a-need while your potential is at its peak.

In many cases, this means conducting your auction and fund-a-need during dinner, not after it. Dessert is the turning point, when people start to get up and leave. If you haven’t done the most important element of your fundraising (for most of our events, this is the fund-a-need) before dessert is served, you’re losing money.

Efficient time management will help you raise more money and will ensure your event ends on time. It will also help attendees form an emotionally-charged long-term memory that they associate with your event. Long-term memories are formed when an experience is paired with an emotion.

No offense to your caterer, but few people will remember the food at your event, unless it is ridiculously good or bad. Everyone, however, will remember the way they felt when your event transcended a mere “gala” and became a life-changing experience. 

This only happens if you capitalize on the potential you’ve worked so hard to create while it is at its max. Because the philanthropic potential of your event is ephemeral, once it is gone it is gone. If you don’t take advantage of it while you can, you’ll never get it back.