How To Run A Winning Donor Event
For a non-profit institution or organization, you work hard to keep your donors engaged to make sure they stay loyal to your group. One of the best ways to keep donors engaged is by producing strategic donor fundraising events.
For more than 30 years, our event production team has coordinated donor events for dozens of colleges, universities, medical organizations, nonprofits and other charitable groups throughout the United States. We work side-by-side with some incredible partners in the world of donor innovation.
Throughout the fundraising and donor event management process, we enjoy working with the people who donate to nonprofits through in-person live, virtual and hybrid events.
Over the years we have assembled the knowledge and experience to help you and your organization be successful in all things related to donor and fundraising event planning.
Here are some of the top tactics to use to create lucrative fundraising events.
Choose The Right Type Of Event
Detailed planning is key! Fundraising events must be planned with a purpose. Your events can range from hosting an intimate event in your chancellor’s home for your top donors to curating a hybrid event on-campus for a few hundred donors with virtual attendees of thousands across the world. By putting on a hybrid event, you increase your reach of people who can see what projects your organization has recently completed. These are the types of things that get donors excited!
If your donors are used to small, family-friendly events on campus on a casual Friday, that’s going to involve very different planning than an organization who may have donors that are used to an elegant dinner experience with presentations from high-level speakers.
You know your audience best, so you need to plan the right type of event that will engage your donor audience. We can help you design a powerful, meaningful experience that will leave a lasting impression on your donors.
Keep in mind that your donor event is an extension of your brand. The event must reflect your organization’s culture and personality while meeting the expectations of your donors. Using strategic visuals, stories, videos and music at your event will bring emotion front and center — and help strengthen the commitment your donors have to your organization.
Not all donor events have to be fundraising events. Connecting with your donors and not asking them for money is one of the best ways to share your gratitude and engage with them. There are times where you should have a donor event where you simply inform them about how their support impacts your organization’s mission – without asking for donations.
It’s important that you communicate the expectations to the attendees beforehand.
Utilize Creative Partners
For more than 20 years, Wired Production Group has worked side-by-side with the team at Advancement Resources on donor events throughout the United States. Advancement Resources is a global leader in research-based professional education, implementation services, donor-focused event planning, and breakthrough thinking in philanthropy since 1999.
With their expertise in medical, academic and nonprofit philanthropy, we have been able to collaborate with their team to produce strategic events through their creative direction, project management, graphic design, speech writing, music composition, and copywriting to complement our event and video production services.
“Wired Production Group is our trusted partner for a reason,” shares Lynnea Handley, Vice President, Creative Services at Advancement Resources. “Our partnership with Wired has been strong for over two decades because of our deep understanding of how to manage and steward our clients’ highest level donors. We handle all communications with our client as the first point of contact and we bring Wired in to help us grow the vision and offer technical expertise to our non-profit client to ensure that the project is always on-time and on-budget. With our team’s capability to work with our clients weekly on the blueprint for their donor events, it’s a huge benefit to our clients to be able to offer full-service production services in collaboration with Wired Production Group and produce strategic donor-centric events.”
Exceed Your Donors’ Expectations With Video
Your donors want to see what’s happening within your organization. It’s your duty to provide information on what is happening at and within your group. One specific way to do that is through video.
Creating a video with interviews and personalized details to engage your donors is the best opportunity to blow them away with powerful messaging that will stick in their minds. These videos can be shared at donor engagement events, in email marketing messages to connect donors, on social media and through other marketing channels.
Your donors typically give you support through financial donations to your organization, but sometimes their story is the real support you need to help grow your organization. By capturing their stories through video, they feel heard, appreciated, and they know that their story can be shared with other donors and supporters.
Our partners at Advancement Resources recommend inviting donors to share their stories through video when it can be used for a specific intended audience. “It can be extremely gratifying for a donor to see how others are moved and impacted by their story,” shares Handley.
If you want to go above and beyond with your reach to donors, including past, present, and future donors, consider hosting a virtual donor event. Virtual donor events are built on the foundation of video by connecting your organization to your donors from the comfort of their own homes.
By doing it this way, you’re reducing the effort that’s required for the donors to attend an in-person event and increasing your reach to donors that may not be local. Whether your virtual donor event is a one-time, live virtual event with special presenters on YouTube or a virtual event series showcasing your latest donor-funded projects, you can use the stories of donors to create a virtual community to show support of your organization and engage your donors digitally.
Follow Up With Appreciation
No matter how big or small your donors’ interaction is with your organization, the power of a personalized “thank you” for attending any type of donor event is impactful. By thanking your donors, you are encouraging them to continue to give to you – and it also shows you truly care about their commitment to your cause.
Consider connecting with your donors over the phone, writing a handwritten thank you note, tagging them in your social media posts, or sharing a publication with an overview and photos from the event with a list of donors after the event. These types of “thank yous” tell donors how much you appreciate their attendance and continued support. No donor should go unappreciated, and every bit of appreciation helps.
In the current age of technology where everything we experience can be captured and published online almost instantly. We have found that one of the best things we can do is help clients plan for post-event thank you videos before the event is over.
“From the very beginning to the very end of the event experience, we’re thinking of the donor ‘thank you’ that continues your engagement long after the event is over,” says Handley. “Post-event videos are the perfect combination of our video teams at Advancement Resources and Wired Production as we work together on-site to produce a video that can be shared with larger audiences immediately following the event in less than 24 hours.”
Planning for unique videos to be shared after any donor-centric event is the best way to keep the event impact top-of-mind for your audience. As you’re preparing for the event, consider the visual experience and how you can plan ahead to repurpose any “thank you” focused content from the event afterwards. This can include future impact videos, website videos, and highlights on social media, YouTube, your website and through other digital marketing channels. Be strategic with what you’re planning to capture at any donor-centric event.
Be Successful in Fundraising Event Strategies
Donor and fundraising events are built on individualized communication, direct marketing, and overall strong supporter-focused activities. With more than 30 years of experience in the world of donor events, connect with our teams at Wired Production Group and Advancement Resources to develop the strategic donor event that will generate a sense of excitement and energy that will stay long after the event is over.
Ready to get started? Contact one of our donor event managers today!