Many nonprofits are in a place where having a table-hosted style event make sense for them as a donor acquisition tool. However, some of these nonprofits are missing out on the opportunity that comes from gathering your table hosts in a room prior to the event.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an extremely unique table host training. A local museum was holding their “Host Happy Hour.” It was held at the museum and included drinks and very light appetizers; but the coolest thing was that I had the opportunity to hear from the Director of the Museum, walk through a new exhibit with my wine in my hand, and overall felt more connected to an organization I have known for years!

Whether your organization has done this event multiple times or this is your first, I want you to know the value of holding a kick-off of some sort for your hosts. I’ve looked at statistics from several non-profits we work with and for sure, your most engaged hosts are doing the best job at guest recruitment and giving. In fact, data showed that on average, a trained host produces about 35% more in revenue than an untrained host.

First, just like my time at the museum last night, think of your table host training as an engagement opportunity. And replacing the world ‘training’ for ‘happy hour’ doesn’t hurt!

Second, think of unique and creative ways to make your training, well, more appealing. And by unique, I still mean very budget friendly. Consider hosting it a winery or a brewery. Hold it in your organization in a unique area. Have a table host open their home. Include a mission moment. Have your Executive Director share new information that not all stakeholders now yet. Share what was raised at last year’s event and what was accomplished with those funds.

Jen Antel with West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition shared how valuable their host happy hour was. “We opened with everyone sharing one thing they loved about Trails. In fact, we identified our speaker for the event…  he spoke so passionately about trails and was able to answer a lot of questions for the newer hosts.” She went on to say that this kick-off also allowed them to see who the struggling hosts might be so they would know who to spend extra time with.

Once you have that stellar event – because how could you not with a great Host Happy Hour? – it’s time to do follow up. Good news, tons of donations. Bad news, ton of data entry.

My best advice here: PLAN AHEAD. If you have planned ahead for intentional follow-up, you will make greater strides. After all, what good is it to gain a bunch of new donors, major donors, monthly donors, but then don’t follow up with them? They won’t stick around long.

Build follow up into your event planning timeline. Block out time on your calendar the day of (or day after) for phone calls and let nothing interfere. Sit in your car with your cell phone if you have to! Build a hierarchy of who will call whom ahead of time, so the plan runs more seamlessly. A phone call within 24 hours says a lot about how much you value your donors.

If you have not yet implemented a table-hosted event but feel like that would be a good fit for your organization, please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you – whether to start a new event or help you grow your event!