Looking for simple ideas of how you can make your next fundraising event an unforgettable night for your donors and make them fall even more in love with your mission? Read on!
For many organizations, their annual fundraiser serves multiple purposes. The top three that are pretty universal are:
To raise money for the organization with existing donors.
Introduce new donors to the work of the organization.
And to celebrate organizational accomplishments.
At any given event, the emphasis on these main areas might shift, but generally speaking, these areas tend to be where most of the focus remains for many nonprofit fundraising events.
Knowing this, it’s important to consider how you bring your mission into the room to connect with the diverse audience that is likely to attend your event.
If like most nonprofits, your event is a mix of new, current, and major donors, you’ll want to make sure you have opportunities to showcase your mission in ways that meet your donors where they are.
For example to introduce new donors to your organization you can have an information table with brochures, annual reports, and volunteers to answer questions.
For current donors, it can be helpful to explore how to communicate progress and accomplishments since your last event so that they can understand the difference they are making—which inspires them to keep giving generously for years to come. For example, if last year your school’s fund a need/mission (also known as special appeal) was to build a playground, find a way to show progress on the playground. Imagine walking into the room and seeing photos or videos of kids playing on a new playground you helped to fund!
And for all of the guests, you’ll want to explore how they can interact, if possible, with actual recipients of your work. Nothing communicates your mission more than actually seeing and being able to talk with or engage with those helped by your support.
Most importantly, you want to design an experience for all of your donors that is inspiring, hopeful, and impactful all while not being too overwhelming.
As you can imagine, fundraising events have multiple sources of competition for guests’ attention. So, whatever you do to bring your mission into the room needs to honor the limited attention span of guests at these events.
Let’s explore how to do this...
There are so many ways to bring your mission into the room. Methods I have seen work well to visually demonstrate your mission throughout the event are:
Banners at check in that state the mission and that show pictures of your work in action.
Poster-sized photos of clients (or equivalent) with brief quotes placed throughout the silent auction area, cocktail area. Make sure the photos are large, high quality, and have great lighting—remember many of our event spaces are dark!
PowerPoint presentation playing during the cocktail hour of clients/work.
You can place infographics and charts with compelling organizational statistics in the program. Be sure to keep this type of info graphically interesting. Text-heavy print, especially in dark rooms won’t keep your guests' interest. The good news is that people really do read the programs, but they skim—so be sure to sprinkle in stories, photos, and stats to keep it interesting for them.
Organizational highlights/accomplishments in the program—focusing on how you could not do this without previous support. Keep this simple and short. Think bullet points. This can often be done with a brief letter from the organizational leadership.
You can highlight a photo collage or a few pictures of what you were able to do because of funding last year.
Provide Pictures, if possible of what you can do with $ this year. Text is great, but the more you can show, the more excitement you can build for your cause.
You can also place artwork or pictures of your work on the table. One organization I worked with used pictures of their clients on the table number, bid cards, and also on their candle holders.
Keep in mind that from the moment guests walk in, to the moment they leave, you want to remind them of why they are there. Nothing is worse than having your guests leave the event and not know what your mission is or what they just gave their money to fund.
Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll cover several more powerful ways to weave your mission into your next event!