8 Best Practices for Nonprofit Event Fundraising

1. Start with a clear goal.

Some might think a charity event is a one-size-fits-all type of thing. But, in reality, nonprofits have many reasons for hosting an event. Maybe you’re hoping to raise awareness or funds, show some supporter appreciation, do some community building, or maybe you just want to have a little fun. The good news is, you don’t have to pick just one goal— but it does help to think about the different results each event type might produce, so you can set yourself up for success.

2. Choose the audience for your event.

Depending on your cause space, event type, and event goal (see, goals really are important), you might have a certain group of supporters that make the most sense to invite. For example, are you looking to target volunteers, fundraisers, or even VIP donors? 

Refer back to your goal and really think about what supporters might best fit your event. This doesn’t mean you have to invite just one type of audience; you can have multiple types of supporters who are invited to each of your events, but having a clear picture of your ideal event supporter goes a long way, and can help you better segment your messaging and communications.

3. Get creative with your promotions.

Once you’ve locked down the type of event you want to have and the right audience for that event, you’re going to want to put a lot of effort into driving interest, pushing for completed ticket sales or registrations, and getting everyone excited.

Email is still king in the invitation world. With proper segmentation and a good cadence plan (don’t forget those follow-ups), you should be able to get a good conversion out of your supporter email list.  And with an additional combo of social posts, online landing pages, offers and promotions, and maybe even a little PR, you should have all your bases covered.

4. Sell tickets online — in more than one variety.

Instead of mailing in checks for a ticket, offer supporters the opportunity to seamlessly purchase a ticket online, while also getting all the event details, signing up to volunteer, and making a donation in the process.

If you really want to get creative and maximize support opportunities for your event, expand the ticket types that you sell by offering discounted rates to early bird registrants, or discounts for last-minute registrants to help bring in more attendees. You can also offer “add-on” tickets for things like concessions, raffle or contest entries, and even tickets for rides or activities ahead of time.

5. Allow supporters to purchase tickets on the go.

Speaking of tickets, another great way to sell tickets both ahead of the event and while you’re on the ground is to utilize a feature like CrowdRise by GoFundMe’s Text-to-Ticket. 

This 100% mobile experience is a simple way for anyone to sign up for your fundraising event, whether its a supporter wanting to purchase a ticket upon arriving at your event, or a registrant encouraging their friends and family to sign up for the event when they are out and about. Supporters simply text a custom code word to a pre-set number, and they are given a link to your nonprofit’s optimized mobile ticket or registration experience… it’s as easy as that.

6. Add social fundraising to your event.

We’re big, big believers in the power of social fundraising —  the act of getting fundraisers and their supporters to post to their personal networks about the actions they take with your cause. This is because social fundraising essentially acts as a megaphone for your cause when someone donates, registers, or buys a ticket to your fundraising event. And when a passionate supporter embraces your nonprofit’s story as part of their own, it strikes a chord with their networks on a personal level, and makes it nearly impossible to ignore — increasing awareness for your nonprofit and cause.

Using a fundraising platform with baked-in social sharing prompts, like CrowdRise by GoFundMe, can help you create a modern event experience that goes beyond the ticket purchase. Our built-in Social Amp functionality takes your supporters down a highly-optimized social sharing path that encourages them to share with their networks at pivotal moments during their experience. This includes the sign-up page, their confirmation and follow-up emails, and even in the reminders leading up to your event.

7. Get supporters excited through campaign updates.

Sending out strategic campaign updates surrounding your event fundraiser can go a long way towards creating momentum and a sense of urgency among supporters and potential attendees. For example, you can leverage time, limits, goals, and event changes to drive more event registrants and donations in the days leading up to your event. Check out these example messages:

“More VIP tickets have been added. Get yours before they’re gone.”
“We only have 50 spots left in the race – sign up now.”
“Only 1 week remaining until the event.”
“We’re at 90% of our goal. Help us get the last 10%.”

It’s also helpful to share your campaign updates via video, as campaigns with video updates raise on average 5.7x more than campaigns without updates.

8. Have a post-event strategy in place before the event.

In the hours following a fundraising event, many campaign organizers think that the hard part is over. But we tend to think that the post-event period might actually be the MOST important part of a fundraising event. After all, engagement drops an average of 20% three days after your event is over. So following-up with your attendees and supporters in the minutes or hours after your event is crucial.

Be sure to send a thank you message right away to supporters who took time out of their busy schedules to come to your event. Even no-shows need to feel appreciated, so send a ‘sorry we missed you’ email to those who didn’t attend. Also be sure to make updates to your event page with highlights, pictures, information on upcoming events, prize winners, and even thank-you shout-out’s to keep the excitement of the event going.

By Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise by GoFundMe.

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