One of the forlorn community notice boards in the Land of Lost Board Members was covered with overlapping, over hyped, blurred fund raising announcements for unreadable agencies. They all ran together – “come to our breakfastlunchdinner during winterspringsummerfall for the event of a lifetime! Help our cause. Join our team. Spread the word.” Right in the center of all the fund raising flotsam was a fresh appeal. “Fund Raising Event Evaluation” one night only presented by the CPA to NFP’s, Cash Now, Biker CPA.
I checked my calendar. I didn’t want to miss this session. Cash doesn’t waste time or money. He gives his advice and dares a client not to listen. The ad said the presentation would be at the abandoned drive-in. I walked out of town to the meeting location – an old movie screen tilted to one side with weeds growing around the speaker poles. But the snack shop was abustle. One of the rules of fund raising – good food rivals a good story. There was Cash handling cheesy fries and a 40 oz. soft drink. He spotted me and shouted, “Hey Renee, will you be at the workshop
this evening? I’ve got some great info to share with my clients.”
“Cash, its good to see you. I thought you had given up the not for profit crowd for, well, more cash.”
“I did, but it just wasn’t as much fun. I like working with people who raise money for ideas and turn it into community service. The for-profit world sometimes seems to work by sleight of hand and guile. This is more rewarding.” He managed to say all that and finish his drink and fries without getting anything on his leather jacket.
“Come on over to my office. Let me give you a rundown on the show tonight.” He pointed in the direction of a motorcycle.
We walked over to his Harley with a sidecar. “Still using the same office, I see.”
“Yes. this is the most efficient desk on three wheels. Technology allows me to keep the overhead under, if you know what I mean.” He reached into the side car and brought out his laptop and projector. “Look at this stuff.” He focused his powerpoint projector on the sagging drive-in screen.
“I did a study of how my clients raise money and tried to develop criteria for evaluating the events.” Slides flashed on the screen. He kept up a commentary as they blinked by.
“See there? I want my clients to start thinking about several things before planning an event. They should know their market audience. Design an event that suits the audience and makes sense for their cause. Then they need to build a budget of potential income and expenses. Does it make sense?” He kept talking as he compulsively twirled his Blackberry on his biker chain. “Cash? Those slides went by mighty fast. May I have a copy of the presentation?”
“Sure, how do you want it? I can e-mail it now.” He snapped the Blackberry into his palm. I must have looked puzzled because he said, “This land is wi-fi. But maybe I can just burn you a CD.” I must have still looked lost because he then sighed, “Well I guess I can Xerox a copy.”
“You have a copier in the sidecar?” I didn’t hear his answer because he was pulling some fresh copy out of his “office.” I rifled through some of the notes he handed me and found I had more questions.
“Cash, why do you think this is an important topic?”
“Well, Renee, agencies put a lot of time and energy into fund raising. They need some guidelines to help evaluate the results. You know, was it effective? Did we reach our audience? Did we have a realistic budget? Did everyone help or did we overburden our director?” He flexed his CPA muscles under his jacket, then continued, “An agency works hard, but if there isn’t an evaluation component, that agency may be spending energy on something that has no return. Its all a dance.” He swiveled his hips, “They may be doing a gala’s worth of work and end up with sock hop receipts.”
Just then his sidecar rang. He turned to me, “I love technology.” He took the call and concluded it with a directive, “Yeah, yeah, just stand by your fax, it will be there in a second.”
“You have a fax in that thing?”
“Hey, this is my office………..my clients expect all the same services that a for-profit expects.” His Blackberry dangled on a chain from his belt, the projector lightbeam created a halo around his buzz cut as he turned to add, “I got to get this workshop done. My clients expect good advice. And I am committed to keeping them fiscally sound. You know my theory, if Congress has caught a megamillions multinational corporation doing funny books, you can bet they want to make sure some $100,000/year not for-profit isn’t getting away with something the least suspect.”
“That’s sounds so cynical, Cash.”
“Not in this business. NFP’s do so much good. I’m privileged to work with them.” His eyes twinkled. “Besides, who else would accept me in a business meeting in these duds?”
September 2006 Was It Worth It-