Event fundraising is one of the most lucrative avenues for nonprofits because you can connect with a large group of people at once and inspire a sense of generosity. However, not all fundraising events are created equal, and a lot of work goes into making the experience a mutually beneficial one for your organization and attendees. While this is a great method to quickly increase fundraising revenue, greater value will come from figuring out how to encourage contributors to give again.
How do we increase fundraising revenue during our event?
Many nonprofits hold annual galas or silent auctions to attract donations for larger fundraising campaigns like a capital campaign or annual fund, which is a great approach. However, this doesn’t provide organizations many fundraising opportunities throughout the rest of the year. It’s important to make your event stand out from the moment the invitation arrives until after the big day is over. Offer attendees a memorable experience that showcases the best of your organization’s hard work and biggest successes. While implementing the framework of traditional benefit gala can be useful, you need to build on it to make a lasting impression that will increase the number of people who want top give. Supporters will associate the “value” of the event – and how you communicate your organization’s purpose – with their desire to be in a giving relationship with your organization.
If you already host regular events, you may be overlooking the chance to give attendees the opportunity to give more. In some cases, organizations ask for the ticket price and nothing more during the event, according to Fundraising 123. This is a HUGE missed opportunity. One way to overcome this obstacle is give people the option to make an extra gift when they purchase tickets. Linking to or embedding a mobile responsive donation form within the information for your event ticket is one way of gently allowing supporters to make an additional gift before the event even happens.
Not everyone will give, but many people are willing if you give them an incentivized way to contribute. Auctions, games and raffles are a great way to encourage participation. Auctions can increase fundraising revenue and create a sense of competition for bidding items. Many organizations offer items that are related to their cause or community at events. This is a great opportunity to introduce your organization to local businesses (or even large corporations) when you ask for auction contributions. Plus, they get exposure at your event…it’s a win-win!
You could have a kiosk (i.e. a laptop or tablet and a table) where attendees can enroll for a crowdfunding or volunteer opportunities, recurring donations or future mobile communication. This reminds people of the focus of the event, but doesn’t interrupt the overall experience, while providing you with vital information to create a lasting relationship with potential supporters.
One of the best ways to increase fundraising revenue at an event is to offer mobile donations. While not everyone may show up with their checkbooks, it’s likely that attendees will bring their smartphones. This channel is convenient, and people can make a gift at any time during the event within a matter of minutes. An added bonus – iPhones have auto-fill features that populate the donation and can even enter their stored credit card number with a single tap of a button….talk about easy!
Optimize the ease of mobile donations and increase fundraising revenue during the event by using a custom on-screen thermometer to let the audience track your goal. A live fundraising thermometer projected on-stage displays the names and gift totals for each mobile donor, which has been scientifically proven to encourage attendees to give more.
The event is over. Now what?
Fundraising doesn’t stop when the event is over. Some organizations are short-sighted in their approach to events. Because this tactic can be a huge source of revenue, nonprofits may not take all the necessary steps following an event to convert attendees to repeat donors.
While nonprofits should maximize the potential for gifts during events, they can’t neglect donors immediately afterward. Many people who go to an event will never think of giving again – which can cause problems in a charity’s revenue pipeline – if the organization doesn’t stay on their radar through text updates, emails and additional asks. You need to consider your current donors’ lifetime value and prioritize retention because it can help you increase donations in the long run.
Remember that kiosk suggestion? The time to use all that collected data is now. Send text updates about the success of the event. Email attendees links to your organization’s crowdfunding or donation page immediately following the event so they can share it with their social network while they are still excited and thinking about how awesome your cause is. Be creative. Be genuine. But, most of all, be grateful of your donors so far.
When nonprofits focus on retention, events can actually increase a donor’s lifetime value, Business 2 Community stated. Making a human connection is crucial for this to happen. Even if the event is large, the experience needs to be personalized for potential donor relationships to grow and increase in number. For example, you can encourage loyal donors to bring friends to events. But be sure to thank both of them individually for their support after the event. Invites to events should be as personal as possible, instead of a general appeal. When possible, handwritten notes can make donors feel more valued. Donors’ addresses for handwritten notes, or tokens of appreciation, can be collected in the data portion of your customizable donation form.
By Shelley Wenk, MobileCause Director of Customer Success