Fundraiser, let me ask you this: Are you getting the right people to your events?
As we scramble to move our in-person events to new online platforms, we are determined to make the experience meaningful and engaging for our audiences.
Certainly, events lose tremendous value when you don’t have the “right” people present.
While attending a nonprofit online event recently, I looked around to see who was hearing what I was hearing. The speaker was deeply passionate about the cause. And the content was so good! It was clear the nonprofit was making an impact. I was just hoping the “right” people were online to hear this.
So often, we plan for events and get lost in the logistics. We forget how important it is to get the “right” people to attend – in-person, on-line, or virtually.
Forgive my pet peeve, but It’s not enough to sell tickets for a fundraising event.
No doubt, you want engagement and support from all who believe in the cause.
But to raise significant funds, you have to get those with significant dollars to join you at the table or on the “Brady-Bunch” screen.
Philanthropists want to make a difference. They are often waiting in the wings for you to contact them. Without question, they want to be courted.
Major donors are often ready for meaningful engagements and want to become involved with your organization at a deeper level.
There are actions you can take to make this happen.
Getting the Right People to your Events
Absolutely, start by taking these steps as you plan your next online or . . . . maybe in-person event:
1. Identify your event’s value proposition.
Consider why someone would want to attend your event. Are people going to learn about a hot issue, connect with like-minded people, make a gift, or a combination, for example?
Moreover, consider what is compelling for someone to take an hour out of their day to attend your online event.
Pointedly, get crystal clear on what value is gained from your event from the perspective of the donor.
2. Identify your ideal major donors.
Clearly, you unapologetically want major donors to attend your events.
You are a nonprofit dependent on funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Needless to say, don’t hold back.
You want those in attendance to be passionate (or can become passionate) about your cause, have the means to make a difference, and are philanthropic. That’s your criteria for ideal major donors.
3. Invite your ideal major donors to your events.
Definitely determine ahead of time with your staff and board members who should be in attendance. To maximize major gift fundraising, you have to get the right people to your events.
Take a morning to make personal phone calls to invite ideal donors to join you. Let them know why they should attend, what to expect at the event, who else will be attending, and what they will hear.
Also, utilize all of your board members and your resource development committee, if you have one, to get the right people to your events.
Not only does your board members have tentacles in the community, but they can make the connections you need.
Recruiting major donors to support your organization is an essential role of your board members. Furthermore, guide them in this process.
4. Follow up with those invited and in attendance at your event.
Once the event is over, transition immediately to the follow-up phase. Don’t go silent and miss this opportunity to call current or potential major donors and say,
Thank you so much for your gift of $5,000 and joining us today. We appreciate you and your family’s continued support year after year. We could not accomplish what we do without you. (Pause and let them respond. And then ask. . . )
Tell me — What did you think was the best part of the event?
How easy is that?! The donor feels valued and appreciated. And not only that — they are likely committed for life to your cause!
No doubt, you make your donor feel special with a call like this.
Philanthropists want to Make a Difference
In summary, don’t let the move from in-person to virtual events stop you from engaging donors in special ways. They want to hear from you and be a part of your community.
Related, check out Canceled Fundraising Events: 5 Steps to Recoup Money
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides overwhelmed nonprofit leaders of small organizations with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].
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