Tap into New Donors via Special Events

by Karen Perry-Weinstat

When planning a fundraising event, it is easy to get buried in the details, of which there are many. But remember that an event is more than “just” an event. It is an opportunity to tap into hundreds of new donors. If you hyper-focus only on the event details and think only about existing donors, you are missing out on a tremendous amount of potential and an opportunity to build new relationships.

Think about it … 500 people in a room … a captive audience … all there with open ears, willing to hear your organization’s compelling message. What percent of guests are people in your donor base and what percent are completely new to your organization? These guests, friends of friends, individuals from sponsoring companies may have a personal connection to your cause. But you won’t know unless you connect to them.

Here are some ideas to maximize their potential impact to your organization:

  • Pre-event, run attendee names through an online donor research tool to determine which guests you want to seek out
  • At the event, be certain to capture contact information for guests, especially email addresses. Make sure check in staff is aware that this is a priority. You can even enlist a few floaters with iPads to unobtrusively approach guests for this information, tableside.
  • You may also be able to obtain this information if holding an auction or availing yourself of event pledging. Remember, many of your attendees have not personally laid out a penny to attend your event and may want the opportunity to donate. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
  • Present giving opportunities that will appeal to people of every level. Often tickets get handed down the line and may end up in the hands of entry level or administrative employees of your sponsors. Not only will this yield more donations, it will allow your organization to capture guest information and begin to cultivate these young donors.
  • Do post-event research on event attendees. Cultivate obvious donors, but do not disregard the second tier prospects.
  • Have staff make a thank you call to designated guests to engage them, thank them for attending and to invite future involvement in your organization.
  • Events are vehicles to bring in new prospects. These are people you would otherwise not meet, so view this as an opportunity. Develop these donors beyond just the event.

Follow Up:

  • Thank You
  • Send Video
  • Offer Volunteer Opportunities
  • Offer peer to peer fundraising opportunities

Event Journal gives nonprofits a tool to engage event participants. More than just a registration page, our robust event websites allow users to explore your organization and gives you a vehicle with which to engage them for a full year plus.



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