When you’re planning a fundraiser, you want to get the most you can out of your efforts. Whether you are running a live event or an online event, you are probably spending significant resources on the planning, including staff time, logistical and vendor expenses, and promotional costs. Yet, all of this will be worthwhile when you meet your fundraising goals of attracting new donors, retaining previous donors, and generating publicity for your organization. So, what do you need to do to build the momentum? Remember this one key rule for maximizing your fundraiser.
The #1 rule to maximize your fundraiser is to leverage time with multiple impressions.
It is a customary practice for organizations to send a save-the-date to inform their audience of an upcoming event, but then the messages often pause while the administrative planning takes place. It is all of those little touch points you have over time that create the momentum for a successful event. Taking breaks from messaging brings you to a grinding halt.
Think of an event like a marketing campaign. Your event isn’t just a one-day, one-weekend, or one-week project. It is a broader campaign with countless opportunities for you to make impressions on your constituents. What if you could make this event the backdrop for messaging for 4-6 months of the year? Challenge yourself to plan out that full amount of time with pre-event and post-event messages to your different audiences.
Best practices for fundraising tell us that you need to have a cycle of communication with your donors. You build interest, get and give information, solicit, thank, and inform them of their impact. Then you repeat the cycle. This is a standard cycle to follow, with each step of it having an important role in ensuring that your donors feel educated, connected, acknowledged, and satisfied with their contribution. We may even linger for a while in one of those stages before we move to the next one.
So often, event organizers forget about this cycle when it comes to publicizing an event. Many organizations are guilty of filling their event campaign with one ask after another: Requesting sponsorship, volunteerism, saving the date, buying a ticket, bidding on an auction item, raising the paddle, donating money. We have so many opportunities for asking in quick succession, that we forget to complete that fundraising cycle.
So, how can you extend the life of your campaign and create as many impressions as possible to leverage your message?
In the pre-event phase, think about every facet of your event as something to be launched. Every supplier that becomes involved, every menu item, every sponsor, every entertainer, every speaker, every part of your story that is going to be highlighted is a feature of the event that you can tease. Find as many ways as you can to create and repurpose that content on social media, email marketing, ads, verbally. Encourage the others who are involved to share their own participation. It’s better to break up any big exciting announcement into as many smaller exciting announcements as you can, building momentum all the way through.
During the event, let your attendees and all the personnel involved be a part of the story of the event. Find ways to capture as much content as you can. Get photos, videos, quotes. Encourage social media participation with hashtags you can track to get that material later. The more memories you collect from the event, the more you will have to share in the post-event phase. (Check out the Banners on a Roll® site for all different kinds of signage you can use to clearly connect all those memories with your brand.)
After the event, you might be able to repurpose all that great content you compiled for months. This is the kind of content that your audience will want to share, because it was created by them. This non-solicitation content with all the fun memories of your event is actually a promotion for the next year’s event. If you can keep it going long enough, you will transition right into the pre-event promotion phase of your next event so seamlessly that people will already be thinking about wanting to take part again.
So, remember, your fundraiser isn’t just one event on one day. It is a huge campaign, and an opportunity to leverage time with multiple impressions to your audience. The more interest you build, the longer you let that campaign extend, the more likely you are to maximize your fundraiser.