Have you ever planned an event, worked tirelessly to fill the room and then wondered why more invited guests didn’t come?
Here are six strategies you can count on to make your events more memorable and worth attending for all the right reasons.
1. Filter your donor data to strategize the right events for your donors according to their interests.
Knowing your donors is the most important strategy when planning successful events. For example, if you have a donor who loves wine and the outdoors, which you know because you have customized your database to capture, update, and maintain this information in her donor profile, you can invite her to an intimate “save the cheetahs” event that includes her hobby – wine tasting – and your new program set to launch in the future. On the flip side, if you filter your donor data and realize 50 of your donors have identified themselves as microbrewery enthusiasts, gather a group to learn about the cheetahs while touring the brewery across town. Raise money for your cause where your donors want to be, doing what they want to do. I bet they all show up!
2. Use your reporting tool to ensure repeat attendance.
Never let an opportunity for your supporters to feel special slip through the cracks. Run your report from last years’ similar event and reach out to people who were in attendance. Personally thank them again so they know you are aware of their attendance and let them know how much you’d appreciate seeing them again this year. Another tip is to ask for their input into the next event they’d like to attend and their engagement will be increased.
3. Provide tools for your supporters to create their own events and champion your cause.
Who can do it all? Nobody. But when you give the right tools to your best supporters, your influence becomes magnified. Showcase peer-to-peer and team fundraising on your website so your champions can create their own events and landing pages on your behalf. When your volunteers create their own walk-a-thons, for example, their events are personal and their circle of influence becomes a part of your circle of donors. At the same time, your data collection from their events posted on your website can automatically integrate into your technology platform.
4. Eliminate long lines, start and end your events on time, and reach your fundraising goals.
Nobody likes to stand in long lines waiting to be checked in at events much less at the end of an extended night waiting to pay for auction items they’ve won. And for you, delays to starting on time cut down on reaching your fundraising goals. To keep events starting on time, set up an online check-in process so your volunteers can greet and check in guests as they arrive, show them to their assigned seats and update their online profile all from a tablet. After the event, provide your patrons with the capability to pay for their items online via credit card. Making it easy for your attendees will make your event more enjoyable for everyone.
5. Welcome your volunteers to become donors by inviting them to customized events according to where they are in your moves management pipeline.
Staying up to speed on where your volunteers are on the continuum of donorship is a fine-grained technique that shows your attention to detail. Launch a quick report delineating each volunteer’s role, service hours and impact to your cause. Then acknowledge your detailed appreciation with an invitation to an appropriate event that will inspire a financial gift. When your volunteers know that you know how important they are to your organization, they won’t want to miss the event. You can also run your nondonor reports from previous events to create custom event touchpoints just for potential givers who remain on the fence.
6. Be transparent with your donors and never justify 3rd party vendors to skim gift money off the top of your online donations.
If your important (and they’re all important) supporters can’t make it to the event due to a prior commitment, give them the means to support your cause through a virtual gifting opportunity. Add a customized Donate Now button to your e-invite and let them know that 100% of their donation beyond the very low credit card transaction fee will benefit the specific beneficiary or program you are celebrating at the event.
Expect to fill every seat at your upcoming events because you have customized your attendee list, sent warm invites showing your donors and volunteers you know who they are, and promised no long lines or skimming dollars off the top of their gifts. Focus on previous guests, provide fundraising tools to your champions, and personally express why each of them is valued for their impact on your organization.