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New AFP Foundation for Philanthropy Report Provides Benchmarks for Charity Special Events

July 15, 2014

Funding through Grant from StubHub Foundation, an Advised Fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation

(Arlington, VA)  A new report produced by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Foundation for Philanthropy provides charities with new data, benchmarking analysis and insights into holding special events.

The 2014 Special Events Report is the first deliverable from the Special Events Management Initiative, a two-year project focused on helping charities:

  • determine the effectiveness of the planning and implementation of their philanthropic special events;
  • compare their results with those of similar organizations and
  • cultivate and steward their donors and constituents following events

The Special Events Management Initiative is funded in part by a grant from the StubHub Foundation, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“Most of the special event fundraising literature so far has focused on how to create such events,” says Andrew Watt, FInstF, President and CEO of AFP. “This report is the first of its kind in showing broadly what the special event landscape looks like, what is working for charities and what they wished they did better when it comes to special events. I think it will be a hugely important tool for fundraisers and charities. AFP and the fundraising profession are grateful for the support from the StubHub Foundation, which I think has shown great vision in funding this very important and innovative project.”


The 2014 Special Events Report found great diversity in the number of special events charities hold. Just over half (54 percent) of organization held between one and four events per year, while 43 percent held five or more, including 13 percent that held 15 or more events annually.

Despite the number of events, revenue from special events wasn’t always critical to a charity’s overall budget. About a third (35 percent) of respondents reported that special event revenue accounts for less than five percent of their organization’s annual revenue.  Only 12 percent said it comprises 50 percent or more of annual organizational revenue. 

“For many organizations, special events aren’t about raising money, but raising awareness and educating the public,” said Watt. “That means that special events can cover a wide range of activities. One of the goals of this project is to get a sense of what special events are happening—and how often—since even the term ‘special event’ can mean very different things to different organizations.” 

The report allows charities to benchmark their special event against those of other organizations. A crosstabs analysis of event revenue by variables including number of events per year, organization type, organization budget, geographic area, metropolitan area size, number of FTE fundraising positions, and number of FTE events positions is found in the survey report. The report also looks at the factors that went into a charity’s decision to hold an event.

“There is nothing more powerful than events to bring people together around a common interest,” said Emma Leggat, StubHub Head of Corporate Social Responsibility. “StubHub is pleased to support the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy in uncovering ways non-profits can increase the impact and minimize the headache of planning and promoting special events.”

The 2014 Special Events Report was based on data received from an online survey, fielded in March 2014, with a random sample of 2,500 AFP members in the United States and 1,200 AFP members in Canada. A total of 101 individuals completed the survey. The survey was developed based on feedback from two focus groups, made up of fundraisers with significant event planning experience.

The report is available for free,, to those in the nonprofit sector interested in this topic.


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The mission of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy is to enhance philanthropy and volunteerism through programs of education, research and service that benefit those who lead, serve and support nonprofit institutions.
In fulfilling its mission, the foundation generates the resources to fund strategic initiatives that advance ethical and effective fundraising worldwide. More information about the foundation can be found at


For more information about StubHub’s corporate social responsibility efforts, visit:  

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