If you’re like most non-profits, Spring means “gala time.” Events bring donors together in an energized, unified way, unlike any other activity. But events also demand more time and energy than many Development offices are equipped to handle.
It’s important that even though we have responsibility for all fundraising and event logistics, that we also take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of the event attendee. How would you like to be treated if you had purchased a table? What if you had raised your hand for the first time at the fund-a-cause paddle raise? Would you feel valued and important or overlooked and possibly taken for granted?
Below are some ideas to share the responsibilities of donor cultivation with other Leaders in your organization such as your CEO, trusted Board Members, Event Committee Members, etc. Taking these steps will help ensure that your donors have a great experience before, during and after your major fundraising effort.
- Prior to sending invitations, segment your donors. Those who came last year should receive a special notecard inside their invitation with a personalized hand-written message from your CEO. Example: “Hope you can make it again this year!”
- Assign pre-event “welcome calls” to your Leaders. Example, “Thanks for buying a table again this year, I look forward to seeing you Saturday.”
- Prior to the event, give these Leaders the corresponding table numbers for these special donors. Assign them to meet them and thank them in person at the event. Depending on the size of your organization, special donors could be determined as everyone who gave at a specific level or more: $1,000; $5,000; $10,000.
- Post-event, employ the same philosophy. Ask your Leaders to write 3-5 personalized hand-written thank you notes, or make some follow up calls to key event supporters and attendees. Don’t forget those who raised their paddle during the live auction or fund a cause. Hopefully your list of post-event donors is long!
- Utilizing your organization’s Leadership in this way is a strategic use of resources. Your leaders will feel happy to help and support your organization in this way.
Remember, event participation should not be handled as a transaction. Think of your own experience. If you made a sizeable contribution to an organization, wouldn’t you appreciate receiving a follow up call and/or hand-written note telling you how much your gift was appreciated? Let’s take this opportunity to start (or continue) to treat our donors as key constituents in our organization’s success.
This column was created by:
Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant
Michelle has served the non-profit community for over 15 years. Michelle has held Vice President, Development, and Marketing positions at a number of significant organizations including Community Support Services (CSS), St. James Hospital & Health Centers, Rainbows and Make-A-Wish. Michelle’s creativity, donor cultivation and strategic vision, have led her clients to exceed their fundraising goals.
Headquartered in Chicago, Laurus Strategies has a passion for helping nonprofits advance their mission. Laurus Strategies’ Non Profit and Public Affairs Consulting Group provides a wide range of fundraising, strategic planning, training and leadership services with a proven track record of success. Together, the team has over 80 years of experience and has helped clients raise over $650,000,000.