GiveSmart conducted a research study to determine what donors expect and prefer when it comes to big fundraising events. Additionally, we wanted to compare those expectations to those of the event planners to determine the largest gaps and how they can be closed. 

When you invite guests to your events, you expect that they participate in fundraising. They likely purchased a ticket to attend but what other fundraising elements get donors excited to give? We found that 87% of donors “maybe” or “probably/definitely” will give beyond their ticket purchase, so here is how your organization can engage them: 

Silent auction
Despite the current hums of silent auctions fading out, they actually are still quite popular! Hosting a silent auction is hard work but it pays off as an exciting way for guests to participate in giving at an event. Silent auctions provide guests with a way to bid on auction items or experiences, and in turn, all funds go back to the organization and the guest goes home with something. Confused on silent auctions and live auctions? This quick video explains. 

Live auction
Live auctions are high energy and come at a higher cost (for donors). It’s best to offer only a few live auction items and to pick an auctioneer who knows the crowd and how to work them. Live auctions typically include one-of-a-kind items or unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  

Games of chance
Games for fundraising events include things like raffles, wine pulls, and mystery boxes. They often come in at lower price points than auction items, so they’re a great addition to other fundraising elements to make giving throughout the event inclusive. Gambling laws vary state to state, so be sure to research whether you can host raffles at your event. 

Advanced fundraising
The ability to raise funds in advance of an event is most appealing to millennials. This can be a great way to encourage them to draw in their networks to raise funds, spread awareness, and excite them about your mission through their personal connections. This is very similar to peer-to-peer fundraising.


Live appeal (but with caution…)
41% of donors say they’re likely to give during a live appeal if it is conducted by someone representing the organization (compared to a third party). It’s also important to consider the amount of money you ask for from your guests: have they done this before, how much have they given in the past, do you have plants (see: episode 11) for the highest amounts, and does the person conducting the ask know what he/she/they is doing? 


Want to learn more about the promotional methods that speak to donors most or effective post-event follow-ups? Look through the entire research study here. 

Kelsey Woodworth
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