How do I get more out of my event donors?

Nonprofits continue to ask this question, but it seems most have yet to figure out the answer. However, it also seems that most have yet to put a real strategy behind engaging event donors.

Some add event donors to their newsletter list. Others just email them in December. From my experience, nonprofits mostly toss event donors into their regular communication cycle and hope for the best.

The Challenge

The challenge is greater with event donors because you know next to nothing about them. Unlike your annual donors, most event donors didn’t give to a specific appeal. Most weren’t acquired as email subscribers.

Most simply gave to a friend or family member.

The one thing you do know is that this group is charitable. They’ve demonstrated they’re able and willing to donate.

So you need to work even harder to find their interests, engage them and build a relationship.

Event donors often get added into the regular communication cycle before they know much about the organization. Will they have any interest in your upcoming activities or news, if they don’t really know you? Probably not.

So before you can even think about turning event  donors into annual donors, you need to figure out how to start a conversation with them.

Here’s a sneak peak at two ways to do this, from Blackbaud’s new ebook, Drab to Fab: Peer-to-Peer Event Makeover:

1. Unique Communication Plan
You need to talk to your event donors differently – which means creating an entirely separate communication plan for them. Take them out of you regular email cycle until you’ve had a chance to introduce yourself.

Start from the beginning with them and bring your “A” game right out the gate. Tell your go-to stories, results and impact.

If possible, provide something of value. For example, if you’re an animal welfare organization, offer one of your popular pet training tips. Remember, email it a two-way street. You want them to donate again, but sometimes they need something of value.

2. Show Some Personality
People get a lot of email. And they may not expect – or want – to hear from your organization. You likely have just a few seconds to get their attention – so grab it early on with a little personality.

Try light-hearted subject lines or openings like “I know we just met…” or “Does it feel like we’ve been setup?” Not only will you stand out, you’ll demonstrate a more personal approach to starting the conversation.

Want to hear two more ways to turn event donors into annual donors? Download Blackbaud’s new ebook, Drab to Fab: Peer-to-Peer Event Makeover, then head to my chapter on From Event Donor to Annual Donor.

Also, don’t miss our Drab to Fab webinar series this month.

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Mike Snusz brings over 11+ years of nonprofit experience to his role as a principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud. He focuses on helping nonprofits create online fundraising, email, P2P, social media, SEO, analytics and website optimization strategies to maximize giving opportunities. Mike previously managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell, including the event’s growth from $330,000 to $1.2 million over a three-year period. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn and Twitter at @mikesnusz. To learn how Mike can help your organization’s next fundraising campaign, contact him at

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