Here's a little nugget on gathering intel on events in the United States. Specifically, not-for-profit events.
Because I'm US-based, this recommendation is focused on US-based non-profits/events. That said, I'm sure similar tools exist elsewhere in the world. Please let me know if you're aware of such tools and willing to share.
In the United States, non-profit organizations are required to make their tax returns available to the public. And not for profit tax organizations, with gross revenues over $50,000 USD, file their taxes using Form 990.
In the words of the US Internal Revenue Service:
"Form 990 is the IRS' primary tool for gathering information about tax-exempt organizations, educating organizations about tax law requirements, and promoting compliance. Organizations also use the Form 990 to share information with the public about their programs." Source: IRS.gov
Anyone with an Internet connection can access a US non-profit's tax returns. Just do an Internet search on "Tax Exempt Organization Search." You will need the non-profit organization's legal name and state of Incorporation or Employer Identification Number (EIN). Most of the previous information can be gathered with a few minutes of online searching.
Will an organization's tax return tell you everything about its event operations? No.
But it can tell you a lot, especially regarding advertising, marketing, ticketing revenues, sponsorship, and event-related expenses.
I've even used the process above for negotiating contracts.
When asked, "how did you know that?!"
My reply, "it's public information."
As the adage goes, "knowledge is power." Do some digging and let me know what you discover. You will be amazed!
Here are some additional articles on planning a successful event:
- The Importance of Market Research in Planning Your Event
- An Extremely Dangerous Event Planning Mistake
- Your Event Promotion and Marketing Strategy - Start Point
- Event Planning: The Customer Avatar and Your Event
- Two Amazingly Powerful Event Survey Questions
- A Killer Social Media Promotion Strategy for Your Event