Cultivate New Donors with Signature Events

Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 10:05AM

Hardy Smith, Nonprofit Speaker & Consultant

What better time to introduce your nonprofit to potential new donors than at your annual signature event? This opportunity allows you to showcase your organization at its best.  With a little extra effort, major events can be a vehicle for developing new financial support relationships.

Here’s a seven-step process to enhance your fundraising efforts.

Identify targets to invite to your event as nonpaying guests. Involve existing supporters or organization leaders who have personal connections with your prospects to extend the invitations and act as hosts.  If personal relationships don’t exist, recruit your best ambassadors to fill that role.

Do your homework prior to issuing an invitation; this is critical. If there is any involvement history with your prospects, find out why it was discontinued. Know each individual’s background and the company he or she represents.  Learn the history of financial support to nonprofit and charitable causes.  Chances for success will increase if there is a connection between your cause or function and the interests of your guests.  For example, invite someone who plays golf to your golf tournament.

Make their experience special.  Treat your prospect like a prized high school athlete on a college recruitment visit.  Put a welcome message on the facility marquee.  Have them welcomed by the emcee. Provide information packets. Conduct a behind-the-scenes tour.  Give them a memento of the event.

Take your prospects around for introductions.  Have people prepped to help make a positive impression and communicate the organization’s mission.  If the event is a dinner, seat your guests with a group that will talk up the good work being done.  Ensure the table is in a preferred location and gets good service.

Work to secure a commitment for a facility visit or to a future activity where the impact of your mission can be seen.

Follow up after the event with personal communication thanking your guests for attending and letting them know how much the organization is looking forward to the upcoming visit.

Reinforce the relationship after they commit by continuing to make them feel special.

Be mindful of your existing sponsors and donors.  See to it their involvement is a consistently special experience as well!

If you adopt this donor cultivation process, the financial success of your signature event can be significantly increased.


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