Mon, August 26 2013
Fundraising events are a nonprofit mainstay, but they typically take a lot of time, money, and effort to produce. Since even the most basic events can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, it should be a no-brainer to squeeze every opportunity out of these big investments. Unfortunately, too many nonprofits see the event itself as the finish line, missing critical opportunities for more connection, insight, and inspiration (things that will lead you to more loyal donors and increased giving).
To get more out of your next event, keep these three points in mind.
1) Use all available online channels to promote and manage your event.
Take your invitations, communication, and marketing online as much as possible to save money and reap the benefits of social media. Empower your supporters to boost ticket sales by giving them tools to spread your message to their networks. Regardless of how many more tickets you sell, you’re still getting fabulous word of mouth exposure for your cause.
2) Understand the unique opportunity of a captivated audience.
In-person events are an amazing opportunity to make face-to-face contact with the donors that help make your mission happen. Listen for feedback and consider setting up a booth to gather testimonials from your most passionate supporters. Don’t forget to provide plenty of ways for event attendees to become even more involved with your work, such as signing up for volunteer projects, your email list and newsletter, and additional giving options.
3) Treat your event as part of a larger campaign.
Instead of thinking of your event as a time-bound, in-person fête, make sure it connects to your other fundraising and advocacy campaigns. Tie your event’s marketing to your larger development strategy. Use the event as a springboard to develop more robust partnerships with sponsors and to create deeper relationships with your loyal donors.
For more ideas on improving your fundraising event’s marketing, please join me, along with Joe Fazio, co-founder of givezooks!, for a free webinar tomorrow (Tuesday, August 27, 2013) at 1pm EDT. We’ll be sharing some tips on how to get the most out of your fundraising events by maximizing your event marketing and outreach, plus Joe will show how you can make your fundraising registration and ticketing run more smoothly with EventsNow, powered by givezooks!.
Register for free and learn how to get more out of your next fundraising event. I hope to see you there!
(Image source: The Madlab Post via Flickr)
Mon, January 28 2013
I’m going to be speaking at the DMA Non Profit Conference next week. If you’re a Washington, DC-area native or are coming into town for the conference, come say hello.
The DMA has asked me to share these details on the conference: It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into what other organizations like yours are doing in the fundraising world. Topics will include better ways to integrate your fundraising channels, build donor loyalty and improve your fundraising results. I’ll be speaking about what technology can and can’t do for fundraising. And toast and butter.
Technology has enormous potential, but it’s all in how we use it. Technology is at its essence a delivery system. That means what’s being delivered will determine how much good comes of it. Adam Gopnik, a favorite writer of mine, compares technology to toast: “Our thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them… Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn’t really about the quality of the bread or how it’s sliced or the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It’s about the butter.” He means the content of our ideas—the butter—is more valuable than the delivery vehicle —the toast of technology— that carries them. I’ll be talking about toast, butter and how to use technology in a way that drives more dollars.
More details here.
Thu, November 01 2012
Filed under: Events •
I had a lot of interesting reaction and comments to last week’s post, An Open Plea for Better Events. (Read the comments here.) So I wanted to follow up on two questions: What drives event participation and what are ideas for fun events?
What drives event participation?
For an answer to this question, I turned to my friends at Event360. They have a great five-point model to describe event participation. (Get a free download here.) A good event speaks to as many of these factors as possible. Here are the highlights:
1. Affinity to third-party group. Often participation in an event is not because of the activity or the beneficiary at all, but rather due to the efforts of an affiliated (or unrelated) third-party group. For example, individual donations to the United Way come mainly from corporate appeals conducted in the workplace; employees give out of loyalty to (or pressure from) their company. Similarly, many events use large corporate teams in which affinity to the corporation is the defining motivation.
2. Affinity to activity. Some people participate simply because they like the activity in question. For example, marathon runners like running, and that is usually their primary driver for participating in an event.
3. Affinity to participants. Some people participate because of others who are participating. A person who participates in a walk because a group of co-workers or friends are also doing it might fall into this category.
4. Affinity to cause. Many people engage in fundraising events because they share support for the cause which the event is designed to impact. A breast cancer survivor, for example, might participate in breast cancer walks, runs, concerts and galas.
5. Affinity to organization. At this level, loyalty or community with the nonprofit organization itself is the participation driver. An executive who dislikes galas but attends one anyway to support the organization is an example of this type of participant.
Don’t assume everyone is in feeling #5! Design an event that appeals to as many affinities as possible, as described here.
What are ideas for fun events?
John Scott Foster of the Wesselman Nature Society, who made the plea in my last post, offers some cooking-themed ideas that speak to many of these five factors. Here are the events, in his words.
The first – 100 men who cook, an event held by Old National Bank with a different non-profit benefiting each year. In 2012 they sold out, 800 tickets. But with 100 men cooking, no catering fees, an additional 20K goes to the recipient. The cooks competed in terms of decorating or theming their serving area. This year one of the hospital surgical groups that cooked set up their area like a surgical ward, and carved pork tenderloin. Costumes, props, the works. Fun. Cooks had tip jars and the person who got the most tips won the golden spatula award. The winner raised 2.4K in tips that he started collecting two months before the event (karma for all the people who sold him girl scout cookies, boy scout popcorn and PTA gift wrap). The cooks entered the hall in a parade (chef’s hats and aprons provided) led by a Harley motorcycle - loud (an auction item, starting bid 12K) and the local schools drum “boom” squad- even louder. Fun for the cooks, fun for the participants. Although corporations purchased tables, you got to get up and move around, socialize with whoever you wanted. Most people did not sit down at their tables until the auction started. Socializing was the key.
The second – A YWCA event, in a conference center, but their twist was that they had individuals (celebrities, celebrity chefs) and businesses cook cakes. Each table had a cake, but you didn’t have to have the cake on your table. So during the happy hour, you cruised around checking out which one you wanted. Then there was a sit-down dinner, but the minute you finished dinner, you popped up and went foraging for cake. It forced you to be social, to move around. And because the cake you wanted may have been at a table that you didn’t know a soul at, you had to talk to new people.
What are you doing to drive the five factors?
Tue, October 23 2012
Filed under: Events •
I got the following email today from one of my blog readers, John Scott Foster of the Wesselman Nature Society.
I had an experience this weekend I thought you might be interested in. I attended two “gala” type events. One was the standard, at a conference center. Held from 6 to 8:30. Coat and tie. Arrive at 6, cash bar, sit at a table at 7. People say nice things. You eat. People say nice things. Silent auction. Then at the end of the silent auction, we are thanked for coming/supporting and told we can all stay and dance to the DJ selection. 3/4ths of the people run out the door, happy to have that obligation over.
The next day. A beer tasting and restaurant sampling event at my nature center. The only roof the spreading branches of 300 year old trees. Jeans, sweaters, comfortable shoes. Beautiful weather. Among many options, a fire ring with a gourmet s’mores station. Acoustic guitarist who was amazingly talented. 3 microbreweries and then one distributor with a total of over 50 beers that could be sampled. A wood fired brick pizza oven on wheels serving pizza. Held from 3 pm to 6 pm. We had to chase people out. They didn’t want to leave. They were having fun.
Obligation (we need to support this important cultural institution) vs. fun (this important cultural institution is providing a great experience for us).
Great story. As John adds, “People love being out in nature. It filled a need that they might not otherwise seek fulfill.”
As John notes, we do amazing work in the world, but we nonprofits don’t always have great events that reflect the heart of our efforts.
Ask yourself: Is your event about dressing up and collecting money for you? Or is it about the essence of your work for others?
Here’s another example of an event focused on the experience of those who participate: Strollers in the Front 5k. As this post in Event360, a group of parents are running with strollers to support The Neighborhood Parents Network in Chicago. It celebrates the experience of parents jogging with kids in the name of building communities of parents and their families.
The bottom line is, the event should be about the experience of the cause - not the experience of fundraising. The more people feel the immediate joy of the larger mission, the better.
Fri, June 08 2012
Filed under: Events •
1. Live testimonial: Who has your organization touched? What lives have you changed? Invite that person to share a personal story about how their lives have improved because of your organization – this is your most powerful spokesperson.
2. An inside look: Ask your executive director or someone on your board to share what changes previous supporters have made possible and how your current work will impact the community. Let attendees know that they are a key part of this change.
3. An invitation to do more: Don’t forget to give attendees the opportunity to take action! Invite supporters to join your volunteer team. Ask attendees to share their email addresses on a sign-up sheet so they can receive updates on your work and upcoming events. Your supporters will be inspired and ready to do more, so don’t forget to turn that motivation into action at your event. This is the number one simple thing we forget at an event - to inspire action, you have to ask for it.