The standard convention is a simple cyclical equation: Attendees pay a fee for education offered by the association, event sponsors pay a fee to get their products in front of those attendees, and these fees cover the cost of the event. The lower the number of attendees, the lower the number of sponsors, the lower the fees generated, and, the smaller the event. Small, or even canceled, events are the norm today as members are less likely to shell out cash to attend.
Enter the transformative “X” factor in this equation: charity. When the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® was faced with the prospect of low attendance at its annual day-long education conference, CEO Christine Todd proposed something radical: offer the event for free if attendees bring a bag of groceries for the local food bank.
Aggressively promoted to both members and potential sponsors (the association even custom-printed paper bags for the groceries), the event attracted record crowds of more than 1,000 REALTORS®. The attendance enabled the association to boost prices for exhibitors, which not only paid for the event but also generated an additional $48,000 in revenue, $10,000 of which was donated to the charity. More than 6,000 pounds of food were collected. For more, visit http://www.nvar.com.