The new Blackbaud P2P Fundraising Benchmark Study recently came out and it’s a great guide for anyone hosting an event. It has all of the useful tips that every organization should know – communicate all year long, focus your recruitment efforts on your most valuable participants, and much more. But the one thing that I always find missing with event engagement is what to do with event donors.

Bringing event donors into your fundraising mix can be a bit tricky. For starters, event donors are not directly connected to you. Their first thought while donating isn’t, “I love this organization! I want to support it.” Instead, they’re thinking, “I love [insert friend’s name]! I want to support her.”

But does that mean you give up on them? Absolutely not.

Event donors give you a perfect opportunity to invite people to your organization. Think about it. They already know a little bit about you because of their friends. Your cause likely already resonates with them because they have people close to them involved.

For example, my friend, Kelsie, has Type 1 Diabetes, and every now and then, I’ll do events with her. I also donate on her behalf at those events. Given the correct communication or cue, I’d become a sustaining member, simply because I love my friend and I want her to be cured. Now, I know you’re wondering why I haven’t become a sustaining member, anyway, regardless of being contacted. I don’t know. Maybe I’m looking for some love. Some acknowledgment. I couldn’t tell you. I know I think about it all the time, and if someone would just remind me while I have my credit card out, I’d probably do it. But no one has done that.

Additionally, you may have donors that are just waiting for the right moment to do something. I have cousins who are very involved in cancer-related events because their brother had cancer as a child. I always wanted to join them, but they live a few hours away. Instead, I support them when they ask. But when a family member passed away from cancer last year, and I received a direct mail piece the next day from the same organization that my cousins support, I wasted no time writing that check. It was just the right time and the right place, and they nailed it because they were still working on cultivating me.

And sometimes, a little reaching out simply reminds people that they need to get off their butts and do something. Why waste a perfect opportunity to remind them that it doesn’t take much to help?

Can’t think of ways to do that? You could:

  1. Try to convert them to participants.
  2. Remind them of an upcoming event and let them know what a difference their donation made last year (and ask them to donate again).
  3. Personally thank them three months after the event and let them know how their donation helped.
  4. Ask them to become more involved through volunteering or supporting you on a regular basis.

Your event donors are as integral to your organization as your participants. If they’re not interested or don’t have time to join their friends at an event, let them know that you’ll take support however you can get it. Who knows – maybe they will forward your awesome email to your next major gift sponsor. Or maybe they’ll be part of the P2P Guide next year, as a participant.

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