Regardless if you’re holding one or several fundraisers each year, properly promoting each and every event will help you get the most out of your time and money invested in them. Even just a little bit of extra effort can result in much better results. Following some tips to get started with promoting your event:
1. Before you start promoting your fundraiser
As with any larger event, the better you prepare for your fundraising event, including promoting it, the smoother it will run and the higher the chances that you’ll have a positive outcome.
– Identify a budget for potential expenses like online fundraising services, online press releases, printing costs etc. Having a budget in place – even if it is very small – before you get into serious planning will greatly help when defining your promotional strategy for your fundraiser and help you focus on the most effective promotion channels.
– Identify available volunteers. You should have a basic idea of how many volunteers you’ll be able to count on for your event. Once you have potential dates for your event nailed down, try to get a commitment from volunteers for these dates. Be sure to keep your volunteers updated of changes to your event schedule.
– Identify your target group. Look at your current supporters’ and your social media demographics. How do you best reach them (email, website, etc.) and where do you see an opportunity to potentially get more supporters on board? (social media channels, your website, partner with a business etc.)
– List your current marketing channels and decide which ones to promote your fundraiser through and how. Different channels may require a different strategy. (Do you have a social media strategy?)
– Arrange to be on a local radio or TV station to promote your event. Appearing in public is another great way to promote your event. Not only will you have the chance to show your enthusiasm for your event, but you may also be able to answer questions and possibly recruit more volunteers.
– Create promotional copy for press releases, flyers, emails and speeches as needed and train your volunteers on how to speak about your event. Writing down what you would like to say about your cause and event will help you narrow your focus on the most important aspects and keep your message clear. Practice with your volunteers ahead of time what to say when talking about your event to participants, donors and sponsors and how to word information on social media channels.
You might even try to come up with a fun slogan, but be careful. Even though a slogan can do wonders for promoting your event, if there is the slightest chance it could be misread, it’s better to have no slogan at all. Before you decide on a slogan, run it by several people within your group to see if it may work and Google it to see how else it is being used.
– Make sure that your website is fully functional and up to date, especially if you haven’t added much new information lately. Go over any ‘About’ information, financials posted and also scrutinize your mission statement: maybe it needs to be tweaked a bit. Don’t forget to add testimonials if appropriate.
Once you start promoting your event, lots of people will visit your website and see all the information. Make sure it’s correct and the website functions well and you have a sign up box for people to sign up to your emails. Also make sure you have links to any social media accounts, press releases, or any other information about your cause on the web.
– Identify potential partnerships for your fundraiser. Even if your partner can only help with marketing (as opposed to writing a check), your fundraising event may greatly benefit from it. A business’ marketing power and reach could mean thousands more dollars for your cause. When considering a partnership with a business, make sure you scrutinize every aspect of it to make sure it’s a good fit for your cause. The slightest conflict of interest, negative news, or even negative connotation might hurt your group’s trustworthiness.
If you’re partnering with another non-profit, it is most important that you make it easy for your supporters to help. Consider splitting any monetary donations equally or in another simple, fair and easy to grasp way. If supporters have to think about whom to give to first, or have to do any kind of math, your fundraising event will probably take in less in donations.
It is also important that your partnership is reflected in all your marketing copy, on your website, flyers and so on. The same should be done by the other group. Decide together about how to best word your fundraiser, use colors and logos and style marketing materials. The end results need to portray that you’re working together and are united to support your cause or causes.
– Start a list of everyone involved with your fundraiser: volunteers, donors, sponsors and other supporters. This will greatly facilitate your thanking everyone once your event is over.
2. Decide on when to start promoting your fundraiser
– How much time do you have before your event starts? If you start promoting your event too far ahead, people may become impatient, or it may soon seem irrelevant, because it’s so far off. On the other hand, waiting too long to promote your event may prevent people from attending because they may have made other plans.
For a larger event, or an annually recurring event, consider starting your promotional activities at least three months ahead of of time. For smaller events, two weeks to up to a month might be sufficient. It’s ok to announce your event even if you don’t know the exact dates yet, but the actual act of promoting your event should be well thought through and follow a plan.
– Don’t forget to promote your event as it is happening! Unless it is a private event, don’t stop trying to get visitors and potential donors on the day of your event. Volunteers handing out flyers nearby or at shopping malls (get permission first), placing large signs near the event, getting local radio and TV coverage, and so on can all be used to promote your event as it is taking place.
3. Promoting your fundraising event through different media channels and word of mouth
– Start by updating your social media channels and website and then sending out your news release. Send out emails to your list of subscribers and inform them about the event, link to information on your website or social media channels and so on. If you don’t have an email list yet, this is a great opportunity to start one!
To avoid having to manually input email addresses, provide a sign-up box on your website and a website address in your printed newsletter where your supporters can sign up. Be sure to keep the emails safe and let your subscribers know exactly what you will do or not do with their emails: you will only use it for the purpose intended, you won’t sell the email list or rent it, you will keep their information safe etc.
– Call your media contacts, send them your information and set up interviews. Don’t forget to also send your message directly to individuals who might be interested in your cause including mom bloggers, fundraising bloggers, specific Twitterers, your family members and friends and so on.
– Update your internet channels continuously starting just before the event and throughout the day of the event and don’t stop until you have thanked all your supporters. Don’t just thank your donors, but also your volunteers, businesses who have helped you market the event, individuals and so on.
– Hand out flyers at places and venues you believe would reach your desired demographic. Handing out information at a shopping mall or near a grocery or school store may be effective. Be sure to ask for permission first before you do this. Asking for permission is a great opportunity to talk about your event and build a friendly rapport with the business owner or manager as opposed to being just another pesky solicitor.
– More about connecting your online and traditional marketing efforts.
– Word-of-mouth promotion may seem like it won’t reach as many people as social media, but it will strengthen your message and puts a face to your cause and event. Train your volunteers on how to best talk about your event. (See 1. above)
4. Wrapping up your event
Your event may be over, but your work isn’t done yet. Be sure to thank everyone involved as soon as possible after the event. If you have an opportunity during the event, you could take advantage of it and thank sponsors and volunteers right then and there. Have you made a list of everyone involved? Then not forgetting anyone will be that much easier.
Thanking everyone who is supporting you and your cause isn’t only the right thing to do, it will make people feel appreciated and help them remember how great they felt when you come asking for their help or donation for your next event!
Tip: Don’t forget to take notes about the event for your swipe file. That way you’ll have all pertinent information for your next fundraising event handy which will likely save you some money and time. Write down the names of vendors you’ve used, their pros and cons, contact information for rental and permit information, and so on.
Promoting your fundraiser might seem like a chore to some, but consider that it’s also a great way to showcase your cause and let the public know how passionate you are about it. It’s worth putting in extra effort to make sure as many potential supporters as possible will know about and attend your event. Promoting your fundraising event in a professional manner shows any current and potential supporter that you’re serious about your cause and makes it more pleasant for everyone involved to support you.