Your balloon arch is drooping. The last of the volunteers is packing boxes of left-over t-shirts into a minivan. The police are picking up the traffic cones that identified your route. As it all slowly disappears, you realize… it’s over! I’m done! I survived another [[Race/Ride/Walk/insert event name here]]. I can hibernate for 6 months before I really have to think about this again!
Well… not so much. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m here to remind you to think about the last thing anyone wants to think about after their event is over… what happens next.
I know, I know – you’re exhausted and you deserve an entire week to sleep it off. So take a rest and come back refreshed, because post-event is the prime time to capitalize on all the excitement and press you’ve been generating over the past few months. I won’t lie; it will be tough – with your event over, you’ve lost your deadline, your press, and your Team Captains… now it’s up to you to tell people why they should continue to support your mission. It’s up to you to provide opportunities for engagement for all the people who just told you that they are open to supporting you, whether directly or indirectly.
I don’t just mean sending a big “thank you” e-mail either; I mean real engagement opportunities. Here are a few ideas on how to continue to engage your participants and donors after the event:
Surveys are a great way to learn what people enjoyed about your event, and where you have room to improve. They are also a great way to get more information about your “market,” or the type of person that participates, and what motivates them. Along with your thank you e-mail, send a link for participants to provide their feedback and USE IT – incorporate participant feedback into your plan for next year’s event. Give your survey responders an opportunity to tell you what what else about your mission or organization they are interested in (i.e. volunteering, advocating, becoming a board member, etc.) and use this information to cater your communications to their preferences.
Sustaining Donor Conversion Series
Your event participants have told you point blank that they want to support you. They are willing to spend time and money to support you, and in many cases, they are willing to ask their friends and family to spend time and money to support you. That’s amore! Create an e-mail conversion series to educate your participants about your ongoing programs and how they can support you throughout the year by making a sustaining donation.
Volunteer & Advocacy Recruitment
I know that, unless you’re a one-person shop, you have different people on your staff that communicate with donors, advocates, and volunteers. I know that you probably maintain different lists or groups, maybe even different spreadsheets or databases where these different types of contacts “live.” I know that. But your constituents don’t. Not only do they not know that different people manage these different departments, they probably don’t care. They expect you to know that they participated in your event, that they donated, that they volunteered their time, and that they called their local or state government representative on your behalf. Share your participants with your co-workers, and work together to create a unified communication plan for communication and recruitment. After all, participants beget volunteers beget advocates beget donors… and so on. (See this post to learn more).
Segment – All Year Long
Your participants, and especially your team captains, are special. They did a lot of work for you throughout your event, and they deserve special treatment. Throughout the year, consider whether event participants and/or captains should receive a different version of your appeals or newsletters. Show your appreciation all year long.
Another great way to keep participants engaged is to provide them with the tools to create their own fundraiser. Segment your top fundraisers and team captains and ask if they’d like to organize a grassroots event. Provide them with everything they need to set up a fundraising web page and throw a house party, bake sale, haunted house, poker night, or any kind of event they choose to benefit your organization.
Welcome your Peer Donors
Finally, the toughest nut to crack – peer donors. I’m talking about all of the people who gave money to your participants because the participant asked them to. These folks may or may not be familiar with your organization; now is the time to educate them and convert them into direct supporters of your mission. Develop an integrated marketing campaign – include an automated welcome series, follow up with direct mail (see tips from Douglas Broward from earlier this week), and even give them a phone call if you have the resources. This is your chance to make an impression – make it a good one!
These are only a few ways to reach out to your supporters and leverage the excitement and energy of your recent event. Now it’s your turn – How do you engage your participants and donors once your event is over? We’d love to hear from you!