Networking is a valuable tool in growing a donor network, but the way that we did it made it much slower than we expected. We believe that other forms of networking could be more effective in spreading the idea of evidence based giving, given time and experiments with different approaches.
One benefit of networking was that it allowed us to meet quite a few people who were interested in Charity Science, many of whom later donated during the event and birthday fundraisers. We also gained many side benefits that cannot easily be quantified, such as volunteers, presentation audiences, and guest blog posts.
We found that although our ability to predict which events would have people who were interested in effective giving was quite good, our ability to predict which individuals would give or volunteer was quite poor. Due to this we are more inclined to follow a broader outreach strategy and not focus as much on individuals who seem promising but have not yet made a donation.
Another conclusion we came to was that networking by itself was not a catalyst for donations. We needed some sort of ‘ask event’ for them to connect with Charity Science and make a donation. (e.g. the Charity Science Walk).
We also found that connecting to our personal pre-existing network was extremely time effective, as most of these people already had a strong personal connection to us. However this approach is not scalable and thus will not be our focus while we try to grow.
How this experience has changed our view on networking
We feel that in the future we need a more consistent and slightly modified strategy, which connects people to Charity Science rather than us as individuals, and which is substantially more time-effective. Nonetheless, we think that our previous view that networking leads to a wide variety of subtle and scattered benefits is still true.
Networking raised $9,680, the vast majority of which came from our pre-existing networks. We suspect that the donors will continue to support evidence-based charities, creating a higher net return over time. We also suspect that a large amount of the donations (more than half) raised by our personal birthday fundraisers and the event were due to networking.
Total networking events attended and hosted
We went to around 65 events of all different forms. We hosted around 10 events (excluding the Charity Science Walk).
Estimated time and money spent
We estimate that we spent around $500-$1,000, not including staff costs, on both hosting (excluding the Charity Science Walk) and attending events (including traveling costs).