Updated: Sep 15, 2020
' Whether you've hosted fundraising dinners for years or your first time, it's natural to ask the question, "Can a well-known speaker make a significant difference in the outcome of my event?" Evidenced by the results of thousands of vision dinners throughout Cru, getting a "big name" speaker is not the answer to all your problems. It could even work against its success. While a prominent speaker can draw a large number of guests and perhaps even higher giving totals, experience shows that those are not always the people you want to attend. The reality is most people will only attend because they're interested in your speaker - not your ministry.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
We used a big name speaker a few years back at a dinner in Washington, DC, and grew the attendance from 225 to 500 people. The next year we couldn't afford a well-known speaker again and went back down to 250 guests. What's interesting is that we made more money the second year even though donations were much lower. That's because the first year, many of those 500 guests only came to hear our speaker - we paid for them to attend and eat dinner, but they weren't interested in giving a gift. We had three men that flew from Indiana to Virginia in a private plane to hear our speaker. Do you know how much those three men gave combined? $0 - nothing.
FINDING A HAPPY MEDIUM
Everyone will want you to use a big-name speaker, but simply having an effective communicator will do just as good a job – perhaps even better. Resist the pressure and prove to the detractors that the best way to have a successful dinner is through table hosts and not through the speaker. This philosophy allows us to be better stewards of God's resources because we get the people who care about our ministry - not just the speaker. Ideally, you want to find a happy medium - someone who people respect and are glad to hear, but they might not have ever heard of before the vision dinner. Here are some quick things you might look for in a prospective speaker:
Knows your ministry well and can share a unique perspective
Consider someone that's primarily known in your region.
Experienced & Gifted Communicator
In the end, your ideal outcome is that people feel like they were privileged to hear the person and that this was the only place they could have heard from them.