Learn how to make your next fundraising event memorable
After you spend time preparing for your fundraising event, the last thing you want is for your donors to take little interest in what you’ve planned. Interested supporters can help you increase your donations and spread awareness about your cause.
How can you get donors more involved in your fundraising event?
Don’t worry! We’ve got five ways to help you out.
- Make the event relevant to your donors.
- Build up excitement before the event.
- Be clear about your fundraising goals.
- Encourage donors to volunteer for events.
- Engage with donors during the event.
Let’s get started!
1. Make the event relevant to your donors.
As you plan your event, you should consider your target audience. If the event isn’t relevant or doesn’t speak to your donors’ interests, they aren’t going to be as motivated to attend.
Before you finalize any event, you need to ask yourself, “Is this event going to be important and interesting to my supporters?”
For instance, if you’re trying to target your major gift donors, then a black-tie gala with a charity auction might be the best event. However, if you’re looking for an event that can appeal to a wider range of budgets, then a walkathon might be a good option.
Refer to your nonprofit CRM or donor database to get a better idea of what your intended audience will be interested in. The things you should keep in mind when deciding what type of event will best fit are:
- Location - You don’t want to host an event that’s not easily accessible to donors.
- Interests - While you can’t please every supporter, find a fundraising idea that aligns well with what your donors get excited about.
- Giving preferences - If you’re asking donors who prefer mobile giving channels to come to an auction, you might want to make sure that donors can bid using their phones.
- Donor status - Your event will look different depending on whether you’re trying to attract first-time donors, regular contributors, and your major supporters.
The final point: Learn about your donors’ giving preferences, interests, and hobbies. The information you gain could help you shape what type of event you host.
2. Build up excitement before the event.
If you want to get donors involved in your event, you need to ramp up the excitement well before the big day.
For example, let’s say that you’re hosting a silent auction. To spread more awareness about your event and get supporters excited about bidding, you can let them know about the items ahead of time.
That way, donors can pick their favorite pieces and be ready to bid for them during the event. Additionally, you could open up the bidding in advance to drive up prices before the day of the event even starts.
If you want to spread awareness before the event, use channels like social media, email, and text messages to help you.
Before the event, send out messages to your supporters letting them know the details and provide links to where they can learn more information. Post images and videos letting donors know where the funds raised from the event will go.
Additionally, remind donors about the different ways they can give. Depending on your event, this could include:
Letting donors know about the ways they can contribute before the event will prepare them for the big day.
The final point: If you want to involve donors in your fundraising event, you need to build interest. Communicating with donors via multiple channels will help you do just that!
3. Be clear about your fundraising goals.
Are you trying to raise more funds or raise awareness? Or is it both? Understanding your goals can help you figure out what to ask of donors. That way, you can create an event that accomplishes those goals better.
Once you have a clear understanding of what your goals are, you can easily let donors know how far you’ve come and how much more you need to raise.
Share your goals with supporters before and during the event so that your donors are clear on your expectations.
When you’re more transparent about what you’re trying to raise, then your supporters will see that you’re genuine. If you’re honest with donors, they will be more motivated to get involved.
Additionally, setting clear, reasonable goals lets donors know what your expectations are. On the day of your fundraising event, your supporters know what you are reaching for and can help you get to that point.
The final point: Goals help your supporters see what you need. If they have a better understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, they can get more involved in the process.
4. Encourage donors to volunteer for events.
Attending the event isn’t the only way supporters can get involved. To host an event, you will need help to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Asking supporters to volunteer is another way you can encourage them to participate.
This option can be great for donors that want to contribute, but may not have the financial means or want to support your cause in a different way.
Volunteering puts your donors in a position where they can get involved and use their skills. When donors volunteer, they can see how their support makes an impact.
Let’s cover a few ways you can inspire donors to volunteer:
- Ask your donors early on and send regular updates on how many more donors you need.
- Offer incentives like some free time to enjoy the event or a volunteer party to celebrate all their hard work.
- Share other volunteer stories to show supporters the impact that they can make working for your cause.
- Encourage donors to volunteer with their friends and family. Spending time with the people they love can make volunteering a great bonding experience.
Getting supporters involved as volunteers can help make sure that your fundraising event runs smoothly.
Who knows? You might cultivate deeper relationships with your volunteers. Those relationships could turn them into the attendees of your next fundraising event.
Bonus: Find other ways to encourage donors to volunteer with this resource from Big Fundraising Ideas.
The final point: Involved supporters don’t just have to be attendees. Your nonprofit should encourage donors to volunteer so that they can see your nonprofit in action and build ties to your campaign.
5. Engage with donors during the event.
Supporters should be excited from the beginning to the end of your fundraising event. If your donors leave without feeling inspired, they might not be interested in getting involved with your next fundraising activities.
How do you keep donors excited throughout? Interact with them.
With a live fundraising event, you have the opportunity to talk with donors face to face. This kind of interaction can help you develop more meaningful relationships with your supporters.
Additionally, you can see if donors are enjoying the event and try to improve the experience.
However, your nonprofit staff and volunteers may not be able to interact with every participant personally. But, that’s okay!
You can still engage with every donor in a meaningful way through text messages and social media updates.
Since your donors will probably have their phones with them throughout the event, texting participants is an effective way to engage with them.
In fact, text messages have a 90% open rate within the first three minutes! So you don’t have to wonder if your donors are opening your messages.
Now that you’ve got your donors’ attention, here are a few suggestions on how you can interact with them:
- Send updates on your fundraising goal.
- Encourage donors to send in music requests.
- If you have an auction component to your event, update donors on bid items.
- Send video and images of attendees enjoying the event.
These are just some of the ways you can interact with attendees. Get creative with your communication to keep your donors interested!
Stay active on your social media accounts during the event. Additionally, encourage donors to share your posts and upload their own images.
When you have a conversation surrounding your event, you can spread more awareness to your supporters who aren’t attending it.
Your other donors will see all the buzz surrounding your event, which might get them interested in attending your future fundraising activities.
The final point: Keeping donors engaged during the event doesn’t just make sure that your attendees are having a good time, but it can also help spread the word about your cause to your supporters’ networks.
With these tips, you can get your supporters more engaged in your next fundraising event. Interact with your donors before, during, and after the event so that you can build excitement and interest.
The more you communicate with donors, the more excited (and involved!) they’ll be at your event.
Guest Author Bio
Karrie Wozniak is an expert on mobile fundraising. She is Vice President Marketing at BidPal, the leading mobile fundraising software company that helps nonprofits engage more donors and raise more money. Since 2008, BidPal has helped nearly 2,800 organizations raise more than $1 billion and connect with over one million unique donors.