~ Cultivate those who pour their hearts into your mission ~
If we begin to think of our table hosts as major donors, or start treating them with more special treatment throughout the year, just imagine how much further that relationship could expand your mission. Not to mention how much easier it would make the job of host recruiting.
Let’s start by talking about the different ways you could recruit hosts.
- Start early. By early I mean, start the day of your current table hosted event. Consider including an option on your pledge card at your event for people to be a host at the next event. Why not catch them on their ‘high’ from your event?
- Each time you have a new donor or host an engagement activity, plan their next step with you. It might not be asking them to be a table host, but it might be engaging them as a key volunteer. I think its safe to say that key volunteers make some of the best hosts.
- Are you truly looking through your donor list for host prospects? This seems to be a common area that gets forgotten. Comb through your donor list, especially those who have given to your table hosted event in the past – or maybe that donor who has given to your table hosted event for several years. Determine a giving level (such as $250+) and call that group of donors.
- Diversify: consider staff, committees, and organization members. You may need to secure a few table host recruiters to help you with some of these harder to reach segments. For staff, consider sitting with them one-on-one to determine the guests they have in mind. Explain the purpose of the event and provide information on how these events have grown your operational budget allowing for program growth.
- Track. Track. I’m fairly certain you have a donor database so please use it to track your host prospects throughout the year. If a host can’t commit one year to your event it doesn’t mean you can’t solicit them to be a host the next year. But tracking that info is key in being able to rely on it later.
- Last but not least – don’t get discouraged. Implement a systematic way of reaching out to your hosts, keeping in mind that it may take three to four attempts to reach them.
I’m hoping you get to the point where you see the value of your host beyond what they accomplish at one event for you. Some of these hosts are bringing you board members, long-term major donors, committee members, and much more.
So, let’s treat them as such. Try some of these things to make sure your hosts feel special all year long:
- Host a host appreciation gathering. Something simple. Not only do they feel appreciated and get to meet other hosts, but this is a wonderful opportunity for that host to bring someone with them who they think has the potential to be a future host.
- Segment your table hosts in your mailings. Take opportunities to show them that you know who they are to you. Pull out a handful of newsletters and handwrite personal notes to your hosts.
- Consider sending a mid-year thank you postcard, video, or special mailing from a client served.
When the time comes to actively pursue these host prospects, they should be highly engaged and highly cultivated, and you will have a stronger list to start from because you have been diligent about tracking.