Have you ever attended an event that seemed to never end? You probably felt like the speakers could have taken a “less is more” approach or the schedule could have included more than a series of PowerPoint presentations. Events like these can feel more like they exist to check a box on a nonprofit’s activities calendar rather than an opportunity to get donors excited.
As a nonprofit fundraising professional, events are likely an important part of your annual fundraising calendar. You know it’s critical that your donors are never bored or frustrated while attending one of your events. But creating an engaging, exciting nonprofit event is easier said than done, especially as modern events incorporate more technology in their planning, marketing, and hosting.
So, how can you design a fundraising event that draws in new supporters while effectively engaging your existing donors? Use these six tips to plan a fundraising event that grabs your donors’ attention and boosts your fundraising efforts:
Whether you’re planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, you want to offer attendees something engaging, exciting, and completely unique. This can help secure your donors’ attention and support for the long term.
Any successful event starts with a strategic, organized planning process. Events involve many moving parts, from selling tickets and inviting speakers to finalizing the schedule. A well-thought-out plan keeps your team on the same page and working toward common goals.
One of the most useful tools to guide the planning process is your event planning and donor management software system. These platforms offer plenty of benefits, allowing you to:
Review Double the Donation’s list of top event management software to explore your options for powerful CRM and event management tools. Remember, choosing an event management tool that syncs with your CRM allows you to keep your event planning, fundraising, and marketing plans all in one place.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a major upswell in virtual and hybrid nonprofit events, but these experiences were picking up steam even before the pandemic. That’s because these event formats offer a few inherent benefits.
First, virtual events allow supporters to participate from the comfort of home, offering greater flexibility to fit their busy schedules. Also, this format expands your nonprofit’s reach to a wider audience since anyone with an internet connection can join.
Appeal to donors’ interests for more flexible event opportunities by offering virtual and hybrid engagement options at your next event. For instance, if you’re hosting an auction, open simultaneous bidding to both in-person and online participants. Or, if you’re hosting a 5K fundraising event, allow runners to choose whether they’d like to compete in your in-person race or remote option.
Remember, the key to an effective virtual or hybrid event is to make the experience equally as valuable as your in-person opportunities. Use these tips to offer engaging online experiences:
Your donors will appreciate your efforts to provide multiple ways to engage with your nonprofit’s event. Additionally, ensure you’ve scheduled an appropriate amount of time into your event timeline to allow your team to familiarize themselves with any software you’re adding to your techstack. This is especially important to do for any software that your attendees will engage with directly and might have questions about using, such as conferencing and registration tools.
If fundraising is your event’s main focus, make it as simple and painless as possible for supporters to give. Whether they’re attending in-person or remotely, donating should only take a few minutes at most. Here’s how to simplify the giving process throughout your next event:
The more you can naturally and unobtrusively weave fundraising into the event, the more engagement you’ll see with your donation opportunities. These are just a few popular options you might consider. As you ramp up your event planning, brainstorm any other ways you can simplify giving.
To really get donors talking about your nonprofit’s event, you have to do more than just offer a professional, well-planned experience. You have to offer attendees something unexpected. What better way to capture everyone’s attention than by planning a special surprise?
Here are a few ideas for exciting, unexpected elements to add to your event:
Make sure to provide a sneak-peak for your surprise in your marketing materials to pique supporters’ interest. Let them know that you’ve got something special planned, but don’t reveal exactly what it is. Drop hints in the week leading up to the event to get supporters guessing about what the surprise could be.
To pull off a successful nonprofit event, you need to spark supporters’ curiosity well in advance. This is where your marketing strategy and tools come into play.
Salsa’s guide to constituent relationship management recommends creating a communication strategy focused on targeted and personalized communication. The most powerful marketing strategies incorporate a combination of communication platforms, including social media, email, and website promotion. Here are a few tips for using each platform to generate buzz for your event:
When you effectively build hype for your events, you can encourage more supporters to attend. A well-attended event shows supporters and donors that your organization is thriving and is worthy of continued support.
Your nonprofit’s events are excellent opportunities to build goodwill among your donors. And nothing builds goodwill as quickly as expressing appreciation!
There are plenty of ways to say thank you to your donors. Here are a few ideas for effective donor appreciation:
Your appreciation efforts will not only get donors talking about your event but also thinking about it for a longer period of time. Genuine thank-you messages stick in donors’ minds, especially when they’re considering whether to continue supporting your organization in the future.
A noteworthy nonprofit event can’t be planned overnight. It takes significant forethought and organization to get a great nonprofit event off the ground, especially in today’s digital-first world.
By using dedicated planning tools, appealing to supporters’ preferences, and offering them something unexpected and different, you can continuously create the type of events that supporters look forward to year after year.