Getting the Most from your Fundraising Events

Getting the Most from your Fundraising Events

In May, I wrote about planning for your fall fundraising events (See Donor Event Planning). Now that it’s Fall, we should dig that post out and look at it again.

I’m working with an organization right now that is planning a fundraising event for later this month. As is the case everywhere, some things have worked out the way they hoped and others have not. One of the things that has not worked is the number of $200 tickets they have been able to sell. In fact they now anticipate breaking even but not much more. Given the time they’ve invested, it’s a bust, right?

Fundraiser’s Almanac: August

Fundraiser’s Almanac: September

  • Handwritten Letters
  • Getting the Most from Your Fundraising Events
  • Good News
  • Filing/Data Entry
  • Lapsed Member Letters

Not necessarily.

First of all, it’s not too late to start making phone calls. Distribute the invitation list to everyone available and start making calls to anyone and everyone who has not yet responded. Leave messages that you hope to meet them or see them at the event.

Next, consider the follow-up. Every event ends up with five different kinds of people.

  • Those who came, enjoyed themselves, and seemed genuinely interested in one of the programs or projects.
  • Those who came and just enjoyed themselves.
  • Those who said they would come and didn’t.
  • Those who responded to the invitation but couldn’t come.
  • And those who ignored the invitation altogether.

You should plan specific follow-up activities for each group. For example, you should definitely follow-up with everyone who showed interest beyond the evening. Thank them for coming and offer to facilitate a personal tour of the program. You could also send a “Sorry you weren’t able to come; maybe next time” message to those who declined. And so on.

This work should be spread out among staff and board members in attendance, but it should be centrally controlled – you want to capture as much information from the evening as possible. And to set it all up, you need to get organized now. I included more information in the previous post, but here are some of the highlights.

  • Know who’s coming and make board contact assignments. Brief your hosts and board members about the expected guests. Make assignments as needed to facilitate introductions and help make everyone feel welcome. Board members should come expecting to work. Giving them assignments will help them focus.
  • Have name tags. Nametags help board members find people they do not know and help guests enjoy the company as well. Nametags can also be used to differentiate board members, current organizational members, legacy club members (planned giving donors), and so on using colors or colored dots.
  • Take pictures. Assign this task to someone. Try to get at least one picture of everyone there. The pictures can be filed to help future board and staff identify specific individuals. Make sure the name tags can be read in the photos!
  • Record what you learn. Take notes and file the notes in the office.
  • Plan the follow-up. Cultivation of major gift prospects does not end with the event. It starts there. Communicate with everyone who attends immediately after the event, and ask board members to call their assignments within the following two weeks. In every case, ask what we learned and what the next cultivation step might be.

So perhaps you won’t get as many people to buy $200 tickets as you hoped either, but you can still learn a great deal from the experience and move the donor cultivation forward for those who do come.

Somebody has a great story about event follow-up that really worked. Please drop me an email or post a comment below.




Related Posts:

Donor Event Planning


Find out how David can help you with your fundraising campaigns here.

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