Let’s start with a disclaimer. I know every nonprofit aims to get maximum impact from every fundraiser. But here’s the reality check: too many organizations could make so much more of their fundraising efforts. I know.
As a nonprofit consultant, board member and concerned local citizen, I attend a lot of charity events. What I observe too often are missed opportunities for a stronger take-away from an event. As fundraiser extraordinaire Jennifer McCrea puts it, you want to leave your guests with a more actionable impression than “it was a nice event.” And you want to be prepared to take action to build those relationships.
Granted, the year-end ask that’s underway is a fixture. Still, I believe it can be a less frantic scramble for contributions. So the close of the year is also a time for considering how to do better next year. From my event attendance in 2014: some fundraising dos and cautionary don’ts to kickstart reflection and discussion.
Essential Mention: Your Mission
Don’t exclude your mission from your event. I’ve seen it happen and it shortchanges the event, no matter how much you raise. It’s not enough to put a “to benefit” line on the poster or the program, or to welcome attendees with an oblique “we all know why we’re here.” Talk about what your organization does, how you’re succeeding and what else you want to do. Demonstrate your passion for the cause you represent and what those present are helping to support. Far from interrupting the fun, you’re underscoring the commitment – at least interest – that connects everyone at the event.
Stay Connected for the Next Times
It’s obvious social media is changing how organizations communicate. Particularly when events are billed as informal, social media can greatly expand who attends. I’ve been to some of these informal events this year, where people show up at a local upscale pub, with at-the-door donations and raffles to support a cause. From what I’ve observed, they particularly attract Next Gen and Millennials – precisely the donor base nonprofits need to build. But here’s the hitch – you’ve got to have a process for collecting names and contact information. Otherwise, it’s a one and done, with no second chance for developing relationships and recurring donors.
Put a Face on What You Do
Of course it’s not always possible, but when it is, give your donors a chance to meet those who are benefitting from their support. I was reminded of this at a recent event that would have been so much more powerful if some of the students the organization works with had been present. Remember, people give through your organization. So consider how meaningful – and motivating – it is for donors to see and hear firsthand the impact of their gifts on others’ lives.
In the spirit of the season, many thanks to my blog readers. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!
Looking for guidance with events that have maximum impact? Let’s talk.