Tried and True Strategies for Successful Fundraising Events
Nearly 30 years ago, Orr Group started as a team of event specialists, providing production and fundraising strategy for nonprofit events. Since then, Orr Group has gained extensive experience helping hundreds of nonprofits take their events to the next level by leading fundraising efforts, managing leadership, and executing production. Through all these experiences, we have determined four key components for ensuring a fundraising event raises significant revenue and leaves guests with an unforgettable experience.
Committed and engaged leadership
Enthusiastic and engaged leadership can transform an event’s fundraising success. A typical event leadership structure includes a Chair or Co-Chairs and a Host or Steering Committee, who agree to serve as event ambassadors. These individuals give and fundraise from their networks, personal and professional, to raise revenue. A nonprofit can reasonably expect event leadership to raise potentially 50-60% of total event revenue, increasing a nonprofit’s capacity to fundraise additional dollars from new donors outside its existing network.
A successful leadership structure is typically secured 10-12 months in advance of an event. When considering leadership candidates, think about passionate individuals who have been most involved in your mission, have personal wealth capacity, and have influence within their networks to raise significant funds. Key candidates for event leadership roles include board members, major donors and other influential stakeholders.
Marketing materials and sponsorship benefits
A successful fundraising event is supported by marketing efforts that generate excitement and interest from the greatest number of potential sponsors and ticket buyers. Impactful marketing materials should be aesthetically appealing and easy to read. Also, event materials should clearly articulate how donors can pledge their support, make a payment, or contact you with questions. They should include details related to sponsorship packages and any associated benefits.
When developing sponsorship packages, carefully select benefits and recognition opportunities that are attractive to donors, but that do not place a large burden on staff to fulfill. Benefits should be unique to the organization, such as a chance to meet the children your organization supports or a breakfast with the CEO. When selecting recognition opportunities, identify where a donor’s name would have the greatest reach, such as the event invitation, onsite signage, program journal, or verbal remarks made by an individual during the event.
Fundraising analysis and strategy
The initial fundraising strategy should be set by the time your leadership is secured, ideally 10-12 months before the big day. Customize the event fundraising strategy by analyzing past event performance and results. Specifically, look into lapsed donors year-over-year, donors with decreased giving, as well as donors who have given at the same level each year and who may be ready for a larger ask. By analyzing this data, your fundraising team can take a more tailored approach to stewarding donors throughout the year to prime them for the next event ask.
Keep in mind that your fundraising event serves as an important donor engagement touchpoint. Immediately following the event, contact donors to thank them for attending and ask for feedback on their experience. Consider including event photos or videos too. And remember, a donor’s event attendance should be leveraged to continue stewardship and open the door for further engagement. The goal is to use your event as part of a larger strategy to cultivate them for the next ask.
Mission-based entertainment and production elements
Successful event entertainment and programming will leave guests feeling inspired to continue investing in your organization and recruiting others to support your cause. However, creating an impactful and memorable guest experience doesn’t require breaking the bank. Infuse the event with your mission by carefully selecting speakers, videos, and images for the program to remind guests about why they support your organization. Guests respond positively when they can see the results of their investments through speeches made by individuals directly served or by hearing measurable outcomes and results in remarks.
A positive guest experience is also achieved through appropriately timed speeches, easily accessible venues, a tight run-of-show, opportunities to network, and overall ambiance. Your guests will remember an event that is organized and thoughtfully executed. Post event, ensure you seek feedback from your event leadership, staff and other key participants. These conversations provide valuable insight into both what went well and areas for improvement. An easy way to do this is by sending a post-event survey to all guests.
We’d love to hear from you!
These four components have one thing in common – ensuring staff have substantial lead time and capacity to appropriately strategize and prepare for the event. That said, we know firsthand that these four components are just the tip of the iceberg when successfully executing a fundraising event. Many nonprofits retain Orr Group to outsource specific event elements, such as leadership management, frontline fundraising, production and seating. Learn how we have partnered with a number of organizations on their events and galas in our case studies. To find out more about how Orr Group can support your next fundraising event, contact Derek Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and follow Orr Group on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.