Though it often feels like getting through an event is a major hurdle, it’s really what happens after the event that makes all the work worthwhile. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste! Here are some strategies for making sure what happens after your event keeps your donors engaged all year long.
Philanthropy vs. Fundraising
Rather than simply fundraising for the net return of the event, you can take it to the next level by looking at events as ways to renew, recruit, and cultivate donors. An important component of philanthropic events is equal attention to your follow up.
Knowing that the days immediately after the event will likely be jammed with “catching up” on other demands, it is helpful to make your follow up plan and have time scheduled on your calendar for those important details. Here is a handy guide for planning the week, month, and three months after your event.
Within One Week
- Process cards and deposit checks If possible, at the event so if there is any omission in information, problems can be immediately resolved. Look for opportunities to convert donors to pay in unique ways such as text to give and other electronic methods.
- Thank You Letters should be written in advance to speed the process. There is really nothing more important than prompt donor acknowledgement. Your donors are likely donors to other organizations, so your thank you lag time may be noticed.
- Facebook/Instagram posts will be a great way to keep the focus on your event. People like to see pictures of themselves and their friends. Photo posts get the most attention and can help grow interest in your event. Social media posting is also a way to thank sponsors, honorees, and committee members.
- Email to Attendees “Here’s what you helped us do!” Send an email letting them know that they participated in the success of your event. Share some photos and the results. Links to video and testimonial message are also great to include.
- Cards to Participants/Committee Members More than just donors need to be thanked! Send kind and intentional notes to those who helped make the event a reality.
- Major donor and first-time donor calls Block time in calendars for the day after an event to make calls. Voicemails are acceptable. Determine prior to the event who will need to make calls. Significant donations should get a call right away – same day if possible.
Within One Month
- Internal Staff Debrief with the development team and key players involved, such as program staff that may have helped with identifying stories or data, will help maintain the relationship between development staff and the rest of the organization.
- Committee Debrief Find a committee member to host this to change the tone. Must be guided discussion to ensure feedback on specific pieces. It is an opportunity to see how they felt about the planning process and whether they feel connected to the event’s success.
- Follow Up with Honoree to acknowledge the personal impact the honoree made on your organization. Share how they helped bring new people into the donor family through their influence. Look for ways to keep them engaged by being on the committee or have them present the award next year.
- Donor Development Committee follow up on high-level gifts. The DDC is already trained to help with donor relations so it’s part of their charge as a volunteer. They can help with customizing next steps for major donors or those whose gifts increased.
Within Three Months
- Sponsor Report Develop a 1-page recap that shares the success of the event, number of people in attendance, dollars raised, number of first-time donors. Focus on the benefits they received so they will see the marketing value as well. Send program to absent sponsors. NOTE: Be sure to thank all appropriate contacts at the sponsor’s business: CEO, Marketing Manager, “table wranglers.” Offer sponsors the opportunity to give feedback on benefits.
- Set a Google alert on sponsor/donor names (www.google.com/alerts) so you can be reminded of when they are mentioned online, and then reach out to let them know you saw it.
- Donor tour You can invite all donors – most won’t come but they’ll be glad they were asked. Those who are interested will be able to see the facility and your mission in action.
- Schedule next year’s event! It might seem really soon, but there are so many events, you want to stake your claim early. Check nonprofit calendar to avoid conflicts with other key events. Commit to a date and time and get your event on the calendar as soon as possible.