Yes, they take time to plan and prepare; and yes, they can involve some expense. But they should definitely be on your fundraising calendar: they’re worth it. Why? As Rachel Muir wrote in an article* for Network for Good, there are at least five good reasons to host them:
It was fundraising expert and author Adrian Sargeant who said, ‘The more immersive the experience, the more likely the impression can result in a donor relationship.’ Donor events are the perfect setting to really involve your donors in your cause and connect with them; and they enable you to share stories, first-hand, of the difference that your organisation is making with their support.
They offer a relaxed setting for you and your Board to get to know your donors free of formalities and pressure.
But – like so much related to fundraising and donor nurturing – the event should not be held without
a plan for follow-through. Remember to thank donors for attending, include a personalised line or two in your letter or email that references something you remember from your conversation – and tell them if your organisation has any other events in the pipeline.
Even without a large budget, you can arrange a donor cultivation event that inspires your donors and encourages loyalty.
How? Muir offers this advice and also encourages you to consider these questions:
Produce every moment of the event from start to finish and have a follow-up plan that moves attendees to give. Think welcome refreshments and a personal welcome from a Board member or your CEO, a staff liaison or knowledgeable volunteer who checks in on them through-out the event – and then a warm thank you and follow-up survey to learn what they thought afterwards.
Whatever event you decide to host, make sure it’s immersive, expertly managed, memorable; and that the insight you provide into your good work sticks with the donor... like peanut butter and syrup.
Marisol Gutierrez is Communication and Partnership Manager at Downes Murray International.*http://bit.ly/2clFHfA