Nonprofit organizations often host fundraising events to generate the revenue they need to work toward their mission. However, these events have the potential to do more for your nonprofit than simply empowering you to collect gifts. They also provide an opportunity to engage supporters, raise awareness, and form stronger relationships with your community.
To help you maximize the potential of your next fundraising event, this guide will cover the following best practices:
- Clearly outline your event goals.
- Increase reach with virtual or hybrid events.
- Promote your event through multiple channels.
- Follow up with attendees post-event.
- Work with a fundraising consultant.
Keep an open mind when considering how any event, fundraising-related or not, can benefit your nonprofit. It’s more than likely that if you get creative, you’ll be able to leverage that event to fulfill multiple purposes.
1. Clearly outline your event goals.
Maximizing your fundraising event’s potential begins with the event planning stage. Although your main goal may be to generate revenue, consider other goals you can work toward and what you can adjust about your event to help you accomplish them.
Some other goals that are relevant to fundraising events include:
- Increasing awareness of your mission
- Acquiring new supporters
- Forming new partnerships
- Strengthening existing relationships
When it comes to working towards these goals, you’ll find that many of the actions you need to take will overlap with one another. For example, creating compelling promotional materials for your event will result in more attendees, both increasing your fundraising capacity and awareness of your mission. Similarly, recruiting volunteers to ensure your event runs smoothly will create a positive experience for new supporters and strengthen your existing relationships with volunteers. You can also offer meaningful sponsorship packages to raise money for your event and build ongoing relationships with corporate entities.
The crucial part of recognizing the overlap between actions is to leverage the action to fulfill both of these goals. In the previous example, after the event is over, you could send welcome messages to first-time attendees to solidify their support. For volunteers, you might send thank-you communications to reinforce the positive experience they had with your nonprofit.
2. Increase reach with virtual or hybrid events.
Although in-person fundraising events are effective, virtual and hybrid fundraising events bring a variety of advantages that your nonprofit should not overlook. They can maximize your fundraising event’s potential with the following benefits:
- Greater outreach. Virtual and hybrid events don’t have the same constraints that in-person events do. With them, you can attract attendees that may not otherwise be able to attend.
- Increased accessibility. According to Swaim Strategies, fundraising events were historically only for major donors. With virtual and hybrid events, there’s no limit to how many people can fit in a venue, meaning that anybody can attend. And, for interested individuals who can’t attend, you can record your event so that they can view it on their own time.
- Convenience. A survey conducted by vFairs found that 77.2% of event attendees prefer virtual events because of ease of attendance. And it’s no wonder—virtual and hybrid events remove the need for attendees to travel to a venue on the big day. They can attend from wherever is most convenient for them.
- Cost-effectiveness. By taking your event virtual, you won’t have to worry about some of the traditional costs associated with fundraising events. For example, you won’t need to rent a large venue when you host a hybrid gala.
- Dynamic engagement. Incorporate fun new ways for attendees to engage at your event. For example, you might leverage live chat, polls, and even games.
Virtual and hybrid event elements can also help you accomplish a variety of event objectives. For example, you can increase the amount of revenue generated with lower upfront costs with a hybrid or virtual event. Set yourself up for success by leveraging the benefits that these event formats offer.
3. Promote your event through multiple channels.
To increase the number of potential attendees, promote your fundraising event through multiple communication channels. Depending on which channel you use, you can keep your event top-of-mind for existing supporters or reach out to new people.
Some popular communication channels that nonprofits use to promote their events include:
- Website. When individuals want to learn more about your nonprofit, the first place they’ll go is your website. Create a dedicated page for your event and advertise it on your homepage so users can easily find event information.
- Direct mail. Your nonprofit’s supporters will appreciate a physical invitation to your event, as it’ll make them feel special and valued.
- Email. Build anticipation by promoting your fundraising event with email newsletters. Send a series of emails to invite subscribers to RSVP and slowly reveal more details about the event to entice your supporters to attend.
- Social media. Ideally, you should already have established a social media strategy for your nonprofit and have a following on multiple platforms. Post event teasers and invites on your social media platforms to generate interest among existing and potential supporters.
To make your communications even more effective, implement supporter segmentation, through which you categorize supporters based on demographics, interests, and involvement with your nonprofit. You can use this information to make your messaging more targeted. For example, younger supporters may be more active on social media and may respond more positively to social media posts than emails.
4. Follow up with attendees post-event.
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, one of the benefits of fundraising events is strengthened relationships with your community. You can reap this benefit by following up with attendees post-event to solidify your bond.
Apply effective donor stewardship strategies to earn attendees’ continued support. Bloomerang recommends implementing the following tips for stronger relationships:
- Create a clear communication cadence.
- Ask supporters for feedback.
- Create memorable moments of gratitude.
When it comes to creating stronger community relationships, center appreciation in your efforts. Keep in mind that without your supporters, volunteers, and donors, your nonprofit wouldn’t be able to work toward your mission. Make all your supporters feel valued so they feel good about helping you and want to continue their support!
5. Work with a fundraising consultant.
If you’re still feeling stumped about how to maximize your event’s potential, consider working with a fundraising event consultant. They will bring their years of experience and expertise to the table to help you drive conversions and generate a positive impact on your cause.
These professionals offer a variety of services, including:
- Strategic planning. A fundraising event consultant will have the experience to easily determine what event format you should pick, help you connect with sponsors, and craft your fundraising appeal.
- Storytelling. Often, a nonprofit’s story will convince its supporters to donate. A consultant will help you discover the best way to tell your nonprofit’s story to create a compelling donation appeal.
- Choosing effective tools. If you’re not sure what software to use for your event, a fundraising consultant will have the knowledge to determine which tools will be the most effective for your event.
Aside from tapping into these specific services, working with a consultant can be a great long-term investment. Consultants often offer training for nonprofit teams, where they impart their experience to empower your staff to host great events that maximize fundraising in the future.
Maximizing your fundraising event’s potential will help your nonprofit generate the impact you want. Even if your events have historically been successful, you can always find ways to improve. Don’t be afraid to try something new—consider whether these tips will work for your organization, and implement them for your future events!