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To be truly successful, your to-do list doesn’t end when your fundraising event is over. Say you just hosted a successful charity golf tournament. Everyone had a great time, and in the short term, you hit your fundraising goal for the tournament. But if golfers forget how much fun they had and the impact they made on your cause, they’re less likely to come back in subsequent years and continue their support.
Indeed, to maximize the event’s impact—both in terms of dollars raised and donor stewardship—follow up to event attendees, sponsors, and donors is crucial for establishing a connection with your mission. Post-event communication should make your donors feel good about participating in the event while also getting them excited about the work you’re doing and other upcoming events on your calendar. Sustaining engagement with this group throughout the year helps them feel like integral parts of your nonprofit’s mission, rather than just someone who went to a gala, auction, or golf tournament.
Read on for best practices to keep event attendees connected and engaged (and more likely to show up for the next fundraising event).
A simple thank you can go a long way and is a crucial part of donor communication. But when you take your thank you communications a step further and find additional ways to express your thanks, folks are much more likely to stay interested in what your nonprofit is doing.
If you have the capacity, or can enlist your board or volunteers to help, a personal phone call or handwritten thank you note are great ways to further the connection. You might even consider enlisting your organization’s beneficiaries to reach out to attendees to thank them and share their story, which makes the thank you more heartfelt and impactful and puts a face to the organization and cause. Remember to leverage your nonprofit’s data by referencing the donor’s specific gift and their past contributions.
If that’s not feasible, find ways to inject your work into post-event outreach whenever possible using photos, blogs, testimonials, or other methods, with the end goal of helping the donor understand that their participation in the fundraising event did make a difference.
Attendees of your fundraising event want to feel good about their role in raising money for your cause. To that end, find ways to show them the impact of their participation, whether they played on a team, bought a table, donated an auction item, or sponsored the event. To ensure you are reaching the right supporters with tailored communications, consider creating donor segments based on how they participated.
While sharing the monetary part of your fundraising goals is crucial, it’s equally important to translate how those dollars are impacting your mission. Include tangible examples of the event’s impact on your work in your follow up outreach. For example, you could mention that the dollars raised from your golf tournament or silent auction will allow you to provide new laptops to 10 underserved classrooms in your community or provide homeowner education to 100 first-time homebuyers. Add qualitative data and beneficiary stories to make event participants feel connected to your nonprofit and feel good about their investment—and prompts them to renew their support.
Start by asking beneficiaries to share short, impactful stories and testimonials about how your nonprofit and donations to it have changed their lives. Include these impact statements and stories in your post-event communications to drive home the event’s role in fulfilling your mission. NXUnite recommends sharing impact stories in a dynamic and engaging format: video. Unlike written impact reports, you can leverage imagery and words in video projects. These don’t have to be highly produced, professional videos—video shot on your phone mixed with photos are compelling and can be easily edited right on your device.
Give donors and prospective event attendees an inside look into your nonprofit as you’re planning the next fundraising event. The idea of making donors “insiders” into your organization builds connection, but also gives folks a feeling of exclusivity when you share content that’s just for them. Maybe you share insights into choosing the event’s theme or venue or give a look behind-the-scenes as staff are putting together attendee gift bags, creating a seating chart, or making hole assignments. Don’t feel like you only have to highlight successes of the event—share challenges and how your organization overcame them to put on a successful event.
If yours is a recurring or annual event, consider sharing “work in progress” updates with supporters to build excitement about the upcoming fundraiser. For example, if you’re organizing a charity golf tournament, you could share updates when you secure a golf facility and set a date, add big ticket items to your live or silent auction, and highlight your hole-in-one contest and prizes to create buzz.
A unique way to showcase your event’s impact is to leverage the content generated by attendees at the event, which allows you to share impact from multiple perspectives. Tap into the unlimited reach of social media by creating a unique hashtag or hashtags for attendees to use when they post photos or videos from the event. Engagement is key—be sure to have a dedicated staff member or volunteer to interact with your supporters’ posts so they feel seen and foster additional engagement.
Another idea that adds a fun twist to your nonprofit event is having a photo booth with elements of your event or organization incorporated into the background or as props. Attendees can get a great picture taken and share it with their networks on social media. You can use these photos for any highlight video or album you create from the event.
As you create and implement your follow up strategy, don’t forget about your event’s sponsors. Their investment in your event is critical to its success and can be leveraged for broader support or a long-term partnership. Build them into your strategy or develop an outreach cadence just for sponsors.
Above all, you don’t just want to keep supporters engaged, but want everyone involved in making your fundraising event successful feel like an integral part of the organization’s impact. Using these strategies will help your nonprofit create meaningful engagement with attendees, donors, and sponsors and set your fundraiser up for continued support in the future.