Expert Insights: Charity Events

How can they provide value to partners?

If you type ‘charity events’ into Google, your search will deliver lists of events by hundreds of worthy charities, but I often wonder how these events can provide real value and benefits for charitable organisations and their event partners.

At Sold Out Events, we are approached almost every day by charities who request assistance from us for their events. It could be anything from advice and support for strategic growth and sustainable operations, to helping them find or develop strategic partnerships and of course managing the event on their behalf. Charity events are an interesting field to be in, as we try to provide valuable support respective to the maturity of the event whilst remaining mindful that suppliers and stakeholders are also commercial businesses.

Of course, there is a gap in the charity event world between those who have a primary event funding partner or major value in kind (VIK) partners and those who don’t. Charities with a funding partner can provide better quality events and often the most value for their supporters, participants and partners. The charities who don’t have a funding partner are competing in a crowded market to achieve the same outcomes with restricted resources, which can at times result in lower quality events that provide little value to partners.

There is also the consideration that charity events which rely heavily on VIK and significant discounts or ‘cut-price’ services struggle with sustainability and longevity as suppliers and partners review commercial outcomes year on year.

Is it expensive to be cheap?

The advice I would give is for commercial partners to select charities which resonate with you, your brand, your team and your culture. Find a meaningful charity that speaks to you and work with them to provide value outside of money and free services. A truly integrated partnership including shared marketing campaigns, cross-pollination between likeminded businesses, a 12month strategy which allows both the commercial business and not-for-profit charity to maximise results.

Based on our experience, charities who offer a more tailored approach to their strategic partnership which include a hallmark annual event will enjoy better outcomes from commercial partners. Offer longer-term partnership with multiple touchpoints to the charity and remember that promoting your partners throughout the year is just as important as promoting your message. This will lead to building a more sustainable event that can to deliver real value to potential partners.

Thomas B. Staunton