Utilize “showcase events” to develop new fundraising relationships

Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 12:00PM

nonprofit event best practice

What better time to introduce your organization to a potential new sponsor or donor than at your annual showcase event?

This is an occasion when you can be seen at your best.

With a little extra effort and planning, these special events can be vehicles for developing relationships that can lead to new financial support. Here’s a formula that will contribute to your fundraising success:

First, identify targets for an invitation to attend or participate in your event as a nonpaying guest. Make decision makers your priority. Next, identify one of your existing supporters or organization leaders who has a personal relationship with your prospect and would be willing to extend the invitation and act as host. If a personal relationship doesn’t exist, recruit your best ambassador to fill that role.

Doing your homework prior to issuing an invitation is critical. Is there any involvement history with your prospect? If the answer is yes, find out why the relationship was discontinued.

Be sure to know the background of the individuals and the companies they represent. Know their history of providing financial support to nonprofit and charitable causes.

You will boost your chances for success if there is a connection between your cause and the interests of your targeted guests. If they don’t play golf, choose another prospect to invite to your golf tournament.

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

Take them around for introductions. Have people prepped to help make a positive impression and communicate the organization’s mission. If your event is a dinner, make sure your guests are seated with a group that will be good ambassadors and that the table is in a preferred location and gets good service.

During the event work to secure a commitment for a visit to your facility or an activity where they can see the impact of what is being done with funds being raised.

After the event be sure to follow up with personal communication, thanking your guests for attending and letting them know how much the organization is looking forward to their upcoming visit.

Make the ask. Of course, to achieve your objective of creating a new funding source, you must successfully deliver your sales pitch.

Once you get them on board, take care not to neglect them. Strengthen the relationship by continuing to make them feel special.

And by the way, don’t forget your existing sponsors and donors. See to it their involvement is a consistently special experience for them as well!

Make this process a priority component of your annual showcase event and you will successfully cultivate new sponsors and donors.


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