Your team spends hours planning your fundraising events with great care and attention to detail. The work you do is important to you, and that’s why it’s so disappointing when your supporters aren’t as excited about your events as you are.
In order to create excitement leading up to your fundraising event, it’s crucial to implement some tried-and-true strategies to engage your supporters and boost involvement. Your team will have to get to know your supporters well through your donor data, as well as craft a strategic multi-step plan for implementing these ideas. Managing all of these steps and data effectively can be complicated, which is why it may be useful to look into fundraising software for efficiency and organization. Approaching this problem with a well-thought-out plan will make all the difference!
To help you achieve this, we’ll dive deeper into these five strategies for upping the excitement before your events:
- Utilize storytelling
- Communicate effectively
- Use at least 3 touchpoints
- Plan fun events
- Follow up with supporters
Learning how to implement these strategies in your communication and event planning efforts will help you make every event a success. Ready to level up your fundraising event involvement? Let’s get started!
It’s easy to say “We are fundraising for X cause. We hope to raise X amount of money. Support us!”
However, unless this is a cause that your supporters are already extremely passionate about, it’s likely not nearly enough to get them to donate or even share your campaign. Instead, try crafting a gripping story that illustrates what the cause is, why it matters, and who their donation would be helping. Pulling on your supporters’ heartstrings a little will be much more effective for getting their initial support and continued interest in the fundraiser.
Getting Attention’s guide to storytelling explains that the benefits of using storytelling for nonprofits include:
- Raising more money
- Improving click-through rate and online conversions
- Growing membership
- Helping donors understand a new problem
- Thanking donors for their impact
- Inspiring loyalty and trust
The most important benefit brought to the table by strategic storytelling is the effect it can have on your donors’ sense of connection to your organization. Storytelling brings out the humanity in all of us and fosters connection in a unique way.
This can mean many different things. In essence, it means communicating effectively for your unique audience. You’ll need to know your supporters very well and understand their preferences in order to adjust your communication strategy accordingly.
- Segment your audience. The action of doing this alone will give you a better understanding of the types of people that make up your donor base. Once your segments are established, you can build your communication strategy around them.
- Use multi-channel marketing. Doing this gives your supporters the opportunity to interact with you in the place that is most convenient for them. Snowball’s guide to nonprofit marketing explains all the different types of channels you can use — from direct mail to video marketing and text messaging. You can also target different segments through different channels with this approach.
- Track engagement metrics. Trying out new strategies for more effective communication is only helpful if you’re able to see if it’s working. Track metrics like email open rate, clickthrough rate, response rate, and other engagement metrics to see what is and isn’t working.
Making the most of your communication efforts to build strong relationships with donors is essential for the longevity of your organization.
Use at least 3 touchpoints
Even when donors have every intention of signing up, donating, or responding, it often slips their minds to take action after your initial message.
Due to this, it’s important to follow up and create three separate opportunities for your supporters to take action. This increases the chances of them following up on what you’re asking them to do and promotes donor retention. However, there are a few best practices to follow to avoid overwhelming or bothering your supporters:
- Vary your message. Even as you reach out multiple times about the same thing, avoid sending the same message. Drafting a few different variations will take a little more work but it’s worth it to capture your supporters’ attention!
- Space them out. You’ll want to find the right cadence for your organization in order to remind donors when they’ve forgotten about something. However, spacing out your communications keeps you from overwhelming them with one message right after another.
- Utilize different channels. If your supporters are not responsive to one type of message, like direct mail, send them an email. Then, maybe call them or send a text message.
Even if you’re using the same channel, like reaching out repeatedly for a text-to-give campaign, keep these best practices in mind. The purpose of having multiple touchpoints is to engage your supporters, not alienate them!
Plan fun events
This may seem like the most obvious strategy, but it’s often the easiest to overlook. In the nonprofit space, time is a scarce commodity. That’s why so many organizations run the same types of fundraisers and events.
Some of these events are tried-and-true favorites of your supporters, and there’s nothing wrong with that! However, it can be refreshing to offer a new kind of event to your supporters. Like any good relationship, sweeping them off with their feet with a surprise every once in a while is essential to keep the dedication and passion alive.
Here are a few ways you can up the ante on your next event:
- Offer a unique experience. Not every event needs to be “unique,” but occasionally offering an intriguing experience that most of your supporters haven’t done before is a great way to up the excitement. You could try an adventure-based experience like zip-lining or an event with exclusive access like an after-hours cocktail hour in a museum.
- Make them interactive. The more opportunities you create for your attendees to interact with others and to participate in activities as part of your event, the stronger bonds they’re likely to form with your organization and other supporters.
- Give parents a night off. Recruiting volunteers to offer child care so that parents can attend an adults-exclusive event that you’ve planned is an excellent way to excite your supporters and give them more reason to attend.
- Partner with local businesses. Especially if you’re offering a dining or experience-based event, partnering with a local business is ideal. You’ll be supporting the local community while giving your attendees the opportunity to experience a local restaurant or business offerings that they’ve likely had on their list for a long time!
Finding a good balance between tried-and-true events that are reliable ways to fundraise for your organization and new and exciting events that will re-engage supporters can make a big difference. Think of these fun events as a way to “rekindle” your relationship with supporters!
Follow up with supporters
Lastly, be sure to follow up promptly with your attendees after your events. Keeping supporters updated on the success of fundraising events they attended and letting them know you appreciate their support, helps create a positive association for them. The better the experience they have attending your fundraising event, the more likely they are to attend future events!
Here are a few things you can use your post-event communication to do:
- Say thank you
- Update attendees on how much was raised
- Send out a survey asking about their experience
- Let them know about similar upcoming events
The important thing to remember here is how consistent communication makes your supporters feel. You can’t ask people to be connected to and engaged with your organization when you’re not making an effort to facilitate that connection.
The key to excelling with just these five strategies is to develop a deep understanding of your supporter base and how you can best serve them. Building a mutual relationship will be crucial for fostering their sustained and reliable support — regardless of what current fundraising effort you need support for next.