Fundraising events are tremendous acquisition tools because they extend your reach into the social circles of your event participants. Think of your event like a party: you invite all your friends (event participants) and they invite all their friends (event donors). Hopefully, at the end of the party you get to walk away with some new friends you didn’t know.
I often run across organizations that shy away from communicating to the donors of their peer-to-peer events because they are concerned that their event participants will be upset that the organization started recruiting their personal contacts.
Going back the party analogy, if Susie came to your party and gave you her digits, then you are now her friend and welcome to call her. The same holds true for making a donation to your fundraising event.
Just like you would (over) think how you contact a new romantic interest, you need to carefully plan how you will engage a new donor. The key is to provide timely, relevant, meaningful content.
- The 3-day rule – You may have heard the adage that a suitor should wait three days before they call (ladies, we can debate this indefinitely, but that’s another blog post for another day). Like with dating, timing is everything when it comes to engaging event donors without upsetting your participants. I recommend that your first communication to your event donors is immediately following the close of your event fundraising efforts.
- Acknowledge where you met – Most of the event donors were motivated to give because they received a request from a friend or family member participating in your event. When you are “asking for the next date,” you should mention how you were introduced to the person. Thank your donors for their original gift. Let them know how much your event fundraised overall and how that gift is impacting the mission of your organization. They’ll appreciate that you remember them and enjoy reliving the warm, fuzzy feeling of giving.
- Be persistent and use a variety of approaches – Some people like to play hard to get. And some people just don’t like the activity you are inviting them to (like inviting two-left-feet-guy out dancing). To combat both, I recommend that you send a series of emails with focus on different requests.
- Know when to walk away – It’s very likely that these donors will be recruited next year to give to your event participant; you don’t want to turn this person off to your organization. If you’ve made three attempts to communicate and they have not responded, then it’s time to realize, he’s just not that into you.
- No one wants to be alone during the holidays – Always include event donors as a custom segment in your end of year solicitations. (I know the dating metaphor is a little stretched here.) People are looking to make tax deductible donations at the end of year. At Convio, we processed more than $30 million in online donations in December. To enjoy a larger slice of the end of year pie, customize your message and acknowledge the relationship that these donors have with your organization through their previous event gift.
Which of these tips have worked in your organization? What other ideas can you share with your event fundraising peers?
This post originally appeared on the Event 360 blog.
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