For the past 20 years, fundraising events such as our annual banquets and golf event have been a rich part of our heritage. Our great Clarity staff did an outstanding job putting on top quality events, which consistent attendance gave testimony to. That level of quality didn’t just instantly happen, but grew over years as dedicated staff, volunteers, and partners committed an abundance of hours planning and organizing. Preparations began as much as eight months before the crowds ever showed up. If just one great banquet takes that effort, imagine what seven or eight banquets over six weeks require! The wonderful attributes of such great events are the festive celebration of individuals coming together for the cause of life, an opportunity to connect with those seldom seen since the prior year banquet, the chance to hear the tangible impact each dollar of support was able to make, and the opportunity for us to let our many supporters know, You Matter! All are attributes of merit.
With the many positives of an event like a banquet, our partners and supporters may have been surprised at our annual Clarity Impact meeting to hear that 2023 is our final year for our traditional fundraising events. There is an old adage coined by author Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of great.” That is especially true when the good things grow to be distractions from the great mission we exist to accomplish. For 40 years, Clarity has existed to provide the opportunity of life for women and their unborn babies by helping them understand that they matter. Fundraising events have been our Good thing and played a key role in our development at a time when they were crucial, but those events are not why Clarity exists. Why we exist is our Great thing: to offer the hope of life! With the increase in the number of banquets, along with the quality to meet today’s expectations, came challenges: specifically, the growth of staff time, focus, and costs to accomplish them, as well as time and focus away from individuals we exist to reach with the hope of life. The time required grew until almost our entire marketing effort focused on people attending our events, rather than to those needing the hope of life. For several years, the Clarity board and executive staff had realized good had become a detriment to the great. They also realized that getting off the perpetually busy and fast merry-go-round of events is no easy task.
Despite these challenges, it still brings the question: if we don’t do events, where will the funds come from? The good being the enemy of great is even more true when the results of the good are not as good as they appear, namely raising funds. One aspect of fundraising events for all ministries and organizations is celebrating the total amount raised by them, but unfortunately, the total celebrated is usually the amount before the cost to carry out the event is deducted rather than the actual profit. Those expenses include things such as food, space rental, and the many other tangible amounts. In addition, expenses also include the often-overlooked cost of every hour paid to staff involved from the first minute of planning, beginning as much as 8 months earlier. That unfortunately significantly reduces the profit remaining to provide care to those we exist to serve. However, the cost of an event does not end there. Also included in the total cost is the amount of funds that would be given even if the event didn’t take place. At Clarity, we are convinced our many partner churches, individuals, and businesses do not give because of an event. They give because of the impact we make, and that they believe in! When all aspects are considered, if only half of those who give at the event would do so without it, the actual amount raised is about the same as that given by a single event sponsor, at the cost of extensive effort of staff and distraction from the core reason we exist.
Some obvious questions are, how will we raise funds without banquets and fundraising events? How will new donors be introduced to Clarity? How will we communicate to our partners the impact their support has made? Each is a good question we likewise have asked. The amount of staff time freed up by no longer doing fundraising events is significant. First and foremost is freeing up time to market to those most in need of our education, pregnancy care, STI, and restoration care to know they matter and that we are here to serve them! Second is time to use the opportunities afforded by today’s technology to provide more ongoing communication to our partners of the impact, needs, and vision their partnership is vital in helping accomplish. Third is the time for our development team, and me, to build direct relationships and interactions with our partners not afforded by one-way communication from a stage. We will be carrying out an intentional communication and connection plan to stay engaged with current partners, as well as developing new ones. In addition, our Annual Impact Meeting held each fall will continue as an excellent opportunity to receive firsthand insights from Clarity Board members and myself. Rest assured, Clarity still needs your crucial support to meet the larger-than-ever needs! Rest assured, we will have things to learn along the way. And, rest assured, to both those we serve with the hope of life and those who make it possible, You Matter!
P.S. Check out a short video message about this change here: https://vimeo.com