We recently reached out to the programs that participated in our 2022 benchmarking study for an update on their progress in mid-2023. While the majority of the 38 responding programs experienced positive trends, there were definitely some ups and downs.
While many programs saw continuous momentum from 2022 with participants eager to return to in-person events, several other themes emerged when program leaders were asked to what to attribute their growth, such as:
Earlier recruitment efforts
With less uncertainty about holding in-person events, many programs launched participant recruitment earlier than last year. This approach allowed fundraisers more time to raise money and build their teams, creating a solid foundation for success.
New investment in advertising
Several programs reported increasing their digital marketing spend or implementing a more efficient and targeted ad buy. By expanding their reach and attracting a larger pool of potential fundraisers, they experienced positive outcomes.
Proactive fundraising activation
Some programs introduced new fundraiser activation strategies, such as match campaigns and early fundraiser incentives. These initiatives motivated participants to start fundraising immediately, setting the stage for increased engagement and contributions.
Some leaders expected a bit of a “sophomore slump” going into the second full year of in-person events after the pandemic but shared common challenges that contributed to declines in their programs, including:
Many program leaders acknowledge that the majority of their event teams are still new, having come on board during or after the pandemic.These teams require additional training, tools, and support to maximize their potential and contribute to program success.
Lack of solid volunteer support
The scarcity of volunteer leaders equipped to lead successful fundraising campaigns has been a long-standing challenge for numerous organizations. The absence of competent volunteers negatively impacted program outcomes.
Some program leaders indicated that fundraisers expressed apprehension about soliciting donations during times of inflation and economic uncertainty. This hesitation stems from a perception that potential donors may have tighter budgets, making it more challenging to give.
With the fall event season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to think about how to build upon these positives and overcome these negatives.