KISS — Keep it Simple Silly
I recently helped a client celebrate its 15 anniversary. This is a small, but mighty nonprofit that runs 100% on individual and corporate gifts with no program revenue or government support.
The client’s preferred way of celebrating this milestone was to hold a gala. We were hired to execute this celebration. They hold this event every five years to mark the notable passage of time, and put a spotlight on their associated achievements.
During a conversation, about one of the million details required to run the gala, my client and I chuckled as we agreed to ascribe to the KISS philosophy. You may know that KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid.” It was a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 that states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Despite the KISS sentiment, the planning of the elaborate event continued — with details about guest responses, seating diagrams, program, emcee, band, etc. etc. We’ve all been there, right?
The night came and went and we believe the guests had an enjoyable time. Money was raised and the mission was communicated and glorified.
But later, (as the eye twitch I developed due to many late nights at the office is finally subsiding) I began reflecting on the previous conversation about KISS. Did we really keep it simple? Was the gala the best way — the only way — to celebrate this milestone and do the mission justice?
I don’t think so.
Earlier in the year, I worked with this client on a small intimate dinner for about 50 people. The out of pocket was covered by a beloved donor and the organization raised about 80% in this intimate setting, as was raised at the gala. I wonder what would have happened if instead, we had replicated this style of a modest dinner gathering multiple times, and filled the room with different donors each time.
Hindsight is 20/20, but in the nonprofit world, as in any business, it is important to evaluate return on investment. Especially when the ROI is utilized to change lives and save lives. We must always be seeking the best way to make the same impact while preserving our financial investments, and staff resources.
When we meet as a Board later this month to discuss and evaluate the success of this event, I hope they will consider a different approach. One that will keep the focus on the mission, but will also keep it simple.
by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions
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