During the winter holiday season, giving thanks and sharing our blessings with others becomes a daily practice, but nonprofit organizations rely on charitable donations year-round. That is why meeting and event planners often are called in to help organize fundraising events.
Here are four ways you, as a nonprofit event planner, can help elongate the organization’s season of giving.
- Realize it takes money to make money. Fundraisers are imperative to the success of any organization. However, the same principals apply to charitable giving as to a business relationship. People want to do business with successful people. People want to give funds to organizations that seem like they’re doing something important in an efficient and effective manner. “Homemade” details will not garner the same level of giving as details that appear fully thought out and professional.
- Appeal first to the heart. According to Lisa Simpson’s ebook, “What Science Can Teach You About Fundraising, Marketing, and Making Social Change,” donations increase when the emotions of prospective supporters are engaged. The more they are presented with statistics and data, however, the lower the donation ends up being. So help your attendees make the connection. Schedule a time during the event when they can interact with the people their money will end up helping.
- Update donors on the impact their contributions have. A couple of years ago, an Atlanta-based nonprofit asked me to plan their annual fundraiser. They were struggling with how to address misperceptions about how their beneficiaries were behaving after receiving a sizable donation. I recommended inviting past recipients and their families to attend the event as guests. The donors would then have an opportunity to speak with them, ask the questions they needed to and develop personal connections. The families that couldn’t attend were highlighted in family picture frames with a “Where Are We Now?” story the donors could read during the cocktail hour.
- Don’t send mixed messages. Every year organizations adopt a new motto or theme for their branding and awareness campaigns. Sometimes it’s dictated by national headquarters; sometimes the local organization creates it. Regardless, it is imperative to use the current theme throughout the fundraising event, and in all collateral and messaging. Bear in mind the saying “A confused mind says no” because it also applies to the act of giving. The organization has spent lots of time and money trumpeting the theme. If you ignore it, you risk losing the support of people who have been engaged by it and associate your nonprofit with that brand identity.
Finally, a word about the beautiful dimensions social media has added for nonprofit organizations. There are nonprofit Facebook pages and cause campaigns within Facebook and Twitter, and websites like Kickstarter.com and Eventbrite.com, all of which make it cheaper and easier than ever to create a conversation with your organization’s supporters and promote your events. Post pictures of everything organization-related: a video of a person receiving the keys to his or her first home, pictures of volunteers setting up for the annual pancake breakfast, a letter from a child who’s been helped by the funds raised by your event. This does more than you’ll know to keep your donor family engaged. And, if you engage and empower them to add to the conversation, you’ve set the stage for a vibrant, connected community that will continue to grow.