Ok, so we’re doing a pretty cool thing. It started with a bunch of folks inside the Posner Center doing the exact same work, getting ready for a bunch of different events. “You’re doing that? We’re doing that. You’re doing that too?” The idea took hold that cooperating might get them more than all being on their own.
So the cool thing grew into the idea that all these groups putting on fundraisers could support each other by collaborating through interns. The Posner Center (www.posnercenter.org) supported them with an International Collaboration Fund Grant: The “Fundraising Event Support Test,” or FEST.
Essentially the nine Posner tenants who are all putting on events are sharing two interns over a 6-month period to do two simple things. One, solicit sponsors and two, to solicit in-kind gifts to auction off at their events.
Aside from the $23,000 worth of in-kind gifts collected so far, the effort has also yielded a unique and interesting sponsor. The key sponsor is Conscious Real Estate and OTUBNS who are dedicated to utilizing their business for the benefit of nonprofits at the Posner Center.
The partners will donate 10% of the commission plus $500 for each sale coming from the events’ attendees back to the customers’ NGO’s of choice. The FEST group gets a sponsor, plus additional donations, CRE gets to attend events and win new customers and collectively we’re practicing collaboration with the corporate world. That kind of win-win-win is an important part of our test.
In the international development space a hot topic is collective impact, or how we can move from isolated interventions to greater cross-sector coalitions and efforts (SSIR: http://ssir.org/articles/entry/embracing_emergence_how_collective_impact_addresses_complexity). The idea of utilizing a realty company and a mortgage broker in this way inside a coalition of nonprofits is a micro-example of embracing collective impact and creating an environment where impact emerges from within a simple system.
(Women at a work-site to rebuild a school in Salleri, Nepal – photo courtesy Edge of Seven)
So this test of how to support events is not only about sharing an intern or raising money, but rather about how to start to rethink sponsors and their relationship to organizations. Sure it’s great that there is financial support. But perhaps the biggest win so far is building a relationship in which both partners win and are supported. This is the part of FEST that seems to have the biggest replication upside.
Thanks to the Posner Center for funding this FEST test.
For a list of the nine organizations involved and an overview of the sponsor options please see this webpage and the overview PDF. http://www.posnerfest.org
Peter Mason, Executive Director, Edge of Seven
Principal Investigator, FEST