Oct 9, 2019

Turn event attendees into long-term donors


Party, party! Events are fun ways to not only celebrate the work your organization is doing, but also to say thank you to your supporters and turn event attendees into long-term donors.

You likely have a mix of attendees who are familiar with your organization and those who are new; both are relationships that need to be nurtured. Here’s where to start: 

Ask on the spot.
Hosting a live appeal? Give guests the option to give once or enroll in monthly giving while you have them there in person. Smaller, consistent gifts will likely be more appealing to some event attendees, so strike while it’s hot! 

Say thank you!
Obvious, right? Right. We just don’t want you to forgetSay thank you in person, send notes, make calls, post on social. Do what you must do, just don’t forget to thank everyone who attended, worked, and donated to your event. 

Share impact reports.
Share the results of fundraising and how that will impact the year’s goals. Share photos of beneficiaries, not the event itself. For example, if you had 150 animals get adopted this year, share photos of them in their new homes. You should also point donors to your social media pages to see event photos. According to our Donor Experience Study, receiving an impact report is the most desired form of follow-up communication for donors across all generations. 

impact report

Encourage involvement.
Drive donors to social media pages, sign up for newsletters and subscribe to your blog. An event follow-up is also a great opportunity to invite donors to other events and volunteer opportunities. Coming to more organization-related events or giving their time directly to your mission by volunteering is the best way to build connections to your organization. These experiences will help build a bridge that will lead event attendees to become long-term donors. 

Additionally, you can encourage donors to share your mission over drinks with their friends and professional networks. If they’re passionate about your mission they’ll likely be willing to share information with people they know. Perhaps they’ll even bring those friends to your event next year, giving you the opportunity to bring them on-board as long-term donors. 

Gather feedback.
After your event, it’s important to ask and learn about how donors feel the event went. Gather data. Send surveys to event attendees, encourage them to write to you through email, or even offer hours that donors can call you directly. 

Set up a team debrief meeting for staff and volunteers who were at the event to get their thoughts. What worked? What could be better next year? 

Philanthropy, not fundraising.
It’s important to look at a donor’s journey for the purpose of building relationships, not just to collect checks. Your donors are passionate about your cause, so it’s important to value them like they value the work that you do. For donors, it’s less about the dollar amount and more about the impact of your mission and its positive, ongoing effect on your community. 


For more on long-term donors, check out our Jam Sessions: 

Episode 1: Following up by generation
Episode 5: Turn event attendees into year-round donors
Episode 6: Utilizing text messages with donors 



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We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

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The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

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MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County