Ho-ho-holiday fundraisers!

November 15, 2008 § 2 Comments

Just watched this video about the Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market happening this weekend. I must admit, my first thought was, “Ugh, another special event!”. Then I watched the video and read a little about the event online. I appreciate the fact that they have been able to tie this to their annual Nutcracker presentation. Also, it certainly seems like something that a ballet’s core constituency would appreciate. That said, with over 300 national and international merchants and 65,000 attendees, this must be a huge undertaking. Also, as is typical in the Houston philanthropic marketplace, they leverage the Nutcracker Market with numerous other events including a preview party, kick-off event, Christmas luncheon, brunches, “priority shopping” session, etc., all requiring heavy management utilizing both staff and volunteer resources. It is not uncommon to actually develop senior volunteer committees for all of these separate events. Is this the best use of scarce volunteer resources?

I looked for numbers on funds raised through this initiative, but was unable to find anything (that’s perhaps a bad sign). I can tell you that 65,000 attendees come at $10/person, 300 merchants book space with fees starting at $800/table, over $9.1M is spent on goods of which the Ballet collects at 10% commission, and in addition, there are a number of sponsorship opportunities available securing additional revenue. Certainly seems like this could be a profitable venture considering expenses are not outrageous, which they might very well be. Let’s assume the Ballet nets $2M from this program of events. Think about the human resources required to pull this off. Is this the best way for an organization to raise this money? Don’t get me wrong, the answer might very well be yes. Surely there are innumerable intrinsic benefits to hosting this including increased exposure for the organization, volunteer and patron engagement opportunities, entry points for cultivating corporate sponsors for other Ballet sponsorship properties, etc. I just have to take a moment to think about the resources required to produce these mega-events and how well they actually support our organizations’ programs.

I’ve wrote too much. Let me know what you think. Regardless of whether this is a good use of resources or not, it seems from the video that one can drink wine while perusing the merchant offerings and enjoying lively holiday music. I wish I was in Houston this weekend.



§ 2 Responses to Ho-ho-holiday fundraisers!

  • Erika says:

    As you probably know, I love Christmas, and I love Christmas decorations. I totally want to go to this event! Although I do question how many people associate this Christmas market with the Houston Ballet, I’m sure it does net a profit and appeal to a very wide market. I suspect more individuals attend the Nutcracker market than attend any or all of the ballets.

  • Leslie Fay says:

    I absolutely LOVE special events. However, I understand your concern about volunteer power. I’m not sure how many times they have done this before, but if this becomes an annual event, or even something like it becomes annual or if they want to do something similar at other times during the year, the relationships and contacts formed in the beginning will seriously reduce the effort needed. If it’s really successful, they potentially would have vendors contacting them instead of the other way around. While it will still take a lot of man power, starting something like this might prove invaluable over the years as the vendors, volunteers, and staff become more well versed over the years.

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