9 Strategies to Brand Your Next Church Fundraising Event
The term “branding” gets a bad rap in the nonprofit industry and within the faith-based organization community. It’s typically seen as an inherent part of business—and therefore as something that churches shouldn’t and don’t have to worry about.
But that just isn’t the case!
Churches, just like businesses, have to keep the lights on and function on a day-to-day basis, all while trying to accomplish grander tasks.
And in order to accomplish those tasks, churches have to plan fundraising events.
Taking those fundraising events to the next level involves—you guessed it: branding!
If you’re still skeptical about big bad branding (and how exactly it applies to your church or nonprofit), this article should help sort it all out.
Over the course of this article, we’ll be discussing:
#1. Making Sure That Your Cause is Part of the Branding
#2. Designing Fun T-Shirts for Your Attendees
#3. Being Consistent with Communications
#4. Organizing Your Event with a Color Theme in Mind
#5. Creating a Legacy Church Fundraising Event
#6. Promoting Your Church’s #EventHashtag
#7. Crafting Exciting Sponsorship Materials
#8. Putting a Stamp on Your Stewardship Efforts
#9: Building an Event Website
Are you ready to dive into branding? We sure are!
#1. Make Sure That Your Cause is Part of the Branding
One of the biggest mistakes that churches and nonprofits make when planning a fundraising event is forgetting to foreground their cause! They often get so caught up in the details of the event itself that they inadvertently put their main cause on the backburner.
Don’t let this happen to your church!
When you start thinking about how to brand your fundraising event, the first thing you should consider is how you’re going to incorporate the specific cause or project you’re raising money for into the event.
Every other branding strategy should depend on making sure that your cause is front and center, not an afterthought.
The point is: Branding your fundraising event shouldn’t come before the promotion of your cause or specific project.
#2. Design Fun T-Shirts for Your Attendees
One of the most affordable, fun, and familiar ways to brand your church fundraising event is by designing T-shirts for your staff, volunteers, and attendees to sport.
Not only are T-shirts comfy and great for all occasions, they’re also fantastic for advertising and branding.
Think about it this way: when you see a pink ribbon on a hat or a yellow bracelet, what’s the first thing you think of?
You probably think of breast cancer awareness when you see pink clothing in October or general cancer research when you see someone walking around with a yellow rubber bracelet.
It’s not because you’ve gotten up close enough to read whatever is written on those items.
Brand awareness has taught you that certain colors and shapes signify something greater than themselves.
Your church can have that kind of recognition (okay, maybe not on such a large scale as the pink ribbon movement, but still). Within your community, you can establish a meaning behind your product fundraising.
Start by choosing the type of product you want to represent your church. Do you want to be associated with comfy sweatpants or a super soft, long-lasting, brightly colored shirt?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having sweatpants be your thing. In fact, that may be precisely the image your church wants to cast: “Be at home here. Get comfortable.”
That being said, the image you project is a consideration that your church will have to make when you’re deciding what items you want to sell as a part of your fundraising event.
From that point forward, your tees, sweatpants, or pullover sweatshirts will remind people of the wonderful time they had at your retreat, carnival, or 5K.
In addition to being a reminder of past fun, shirts and sweats can be a walking billboard for future events.
Imagine you’ve designed a splashy, eye-catching shirt for your annual summer grill-out. One of your members wears it out to the grocery store, and a fellow shopper stops them to ask, “What’s the story behind your tee?”
That strikes up an interesting conversation, and by the end of it, another person in the community is inspired to check out your church.
The point is: Shirts (and other apparel) take your church fundraising to the next level by providing opportunities to commemorate past events and to advertise for future events all in one.
#3. Be Consistent with Communications
Although it’s true that actions speak louder than words, and pictures are worth a thousand words, words are, nonetheless, vitally important.
That’s why, when you’re branding your next church fundraising event, it’s crucial to pay attention to the words you choose—and the medium through which you transmit them.
You could be:
- Sending out ten emails a day,
- Texting your active members,
- Tweeting about your event,
- Facebooking pictures of volunteers,
- Instagramming photos of past events,
- Mailing out invites and pamphlets,
- And so much more!
The possibilities are endless.
With so many ways to get your point across, it can be easy to lose the central message altogether, to stray from your original intent, or worse yet: forget to include pertinent details.
In order to avoid that mess, it’s important to have a plan for branding and communications around your fundraiser.
This might mean creating a mini style guide for your external communications for your church. Alternatively, it could mean narrowing down the number of channels through which you communicate.
While it’s important to have a wide variety of ways to collect tithes, there’s no reason your church should have to juggle with twelve forums for discussion.
Choose a few that make sense for your church, get really familiar with the best practices for each, and in no time you’ll see more responses than you were likely getting by spreading your communications too thin.
The point is: As long as you’re consistent in your communications, you’ll be sending a clear message to your members.
#4. Organize Your Event with a Color Theme in Mind
While there are plenty of things to worry about when planning your event and it may seem silly, and to some even arbitrary, but the truth is: colors do matter.
They set a mood, send a message, and set the stage for whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
In fact, there’s a whole realm of psychology devoted to color and how it can actually inspire physical responses in people.
Of course, if you’re hosting an event, you’re likely looking to evoke some kind of response in your attendees. You want them to:
- Respond positively,
- Give willingly,
- Feel at ease,
- Be excited,
- And more!
Now, of course, a couple of these are conflicting. It’s hard to be excited and energized while also being calm and at ease. But it’s not impossible, if that’s what you’re going for.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common color themes and what they represent to the average person:
- Red- excitement, intensity, passion, love.
- Blue- trust, peace, loyalty, calm.
- Green- nature, freshness, tranquility, relaxation.
- Yellow- cheeriness, warmth, but also alarm.
- Purple- luxury, wealth, royalty, wisdom.
- White- purity, cleansing, innocence, the illusion of space.
- Orange- energy, vibrance, fun, innovation.
When you’re designing your invitations, event space, T-shirts, and more, keep in mind what each color connotes, and be mindful that you can combine colors to send different subliminal messages.
You can tone down the alarm that yellow represents by adding splashes of purple. Or mellow out an intense red with some of the calmness of blue.
You’ll most likely want to create a whole checklist where choosing a color theme is just one task to cross off. If you need inspiration for your list, check out Fundly’s Ultimate Fundraising Event Checklist.
The point is: The colors with which you choose to brand your church fundraising event do make a difference, so choose carefully! (And have fun with it, too, of course!).
#5. Create a Legacy Church Fundraising Event
It’s one thing to try to brand a one-time fundraising event.
But if you’re after long-term gifts or looking into fundraising strategies for major gift givers, you know that you’re going to have to step your game up.
One surefire way to achieve this is by hosting a legacy event.
What is a legacy event?
A legacy fundraising event is an event with:
- A theme that has infinite possibilities,
- A name that sparks interest,
- Branded details,
- And the ability to be carried on for years.
In short, a legacy event is one that can be modified year after year to fit a theme but also expand on it.
It’s the kind of event that your church becomes known for.
People will come to expect their invitations around the same time every year, and they’ll look forward to the many traditions you’ll set.
That said, they’ll also eagerly anticipate being surprised and delighted by all the ways you’ll switch things up and remix the running theme.
Bonus: Struggling to choose an idea for your legacy event? Check out our list of over 100 church fundraising ideas for more inspiration.
The point is: Hosting a branded legacy event will ensure that your church members continue attending your fundraising events for years to come.
#6. Promote Your Church’s #EventHashtag
We’ve already discussed the physical, tangible aspects of your event and how they should be branded. By now, you know that you should:
- Design some eye-catching apparel to go along with your fundraiser,
- Get a handle on the language in your event communications,
- Choose your event’s colors carefully and mindfully,
- And establish yearly traditions for your fundraising.
But we live in a time when physical experiences aren’t the only experiences that matter. We live in the age of social media.
As such, it’s incredibly important that your church get on the social media train.
And one of the top ways to do this is to create your very own event hashtag.
Event hashtags can be used across all types of social media, including:
- Twitter (where they originated),
- And more!
Make sure you create a unique hashtag, so you can control the topics of conversation that arise around your #FundraisingEvent.
You’ll also want to be careful to avoid hashtags that could be misread. It can be really easy to take #nowthatchersdead to mean “Now that Cher’s dead” when the intent was “Now Thatcher’s dead.”
The point is: An event hashtag is an easy-to-create, widely distributable promotion piece that can propel your fundraiser forward.
#7. Craft Exciting Sponsorship Materials
Many of your church’s events won’t necessitate sponsorships (or the materials that come with them). Sponsorships are when a business or company provides funding or supplies for an event in exchange for marketing opportunities.
Naturally, some of your events will need sponsoring.
You might end up running a charity auction. Because auctions require items, venues, entertainment, and refreshments, you’ll probably want to have at least one sponsor.
Once you’ve got a sponsor on board, it’s time to start crafting branded materials to feature at your event.
You can pull together:
- Gorgeous banners,
- Promotional videos,
- Polished pamphlets,
- Fun T-shirts and apparel,
- And more!
Keep your sponsorship materials branded in the same vein as the rest of your event materials, but make sure that you’re also paying attention to the wants and needs of your sponsors.
If you appease your sponsors, and you maintain consistency with your event’s theme and colors, then you should be golden!
The point is: Branding your sponsorship materials will ensure that your sponsors are happy, and happy sponsors mean successful events!
#8. Put a Stamp on Your Stewardship Efforts
The final word you have on any event comes in the form of your follow-up communications.
If your event is small enough, or you have the resources to pull it off, you can send letters of acknowledgement, thanking your attendees and supporters.
However, if you don’t quite have the means to put a literal stamp on your stewardship efforts, you can still put a special flair on your follow ups.
Your church can always:
- Make a few phone calls
- Drop by in person
- Send out email thank yous
- Post on Facebook or Twitter
- Or reach out in other ways!
How you steward your supporters post-event is totally up to your church, but it’s nonetheless crucial that you brand those communications in the same way you did your pre-event invites, reminders, and advertisements.
Make sure your acknowledgements are theme-appropriate, color-coordinated, and most importantly of all: timely!
You may also want to slip in an on-brand donation receipt, if your event attendees ended up giving to your noble cause.
The point is: Keeping a consistent brand even when your event is over sets the stage for your attendees and supporters to come again (and give again) when you invite them to your next soirée or shindig.
#9. Build an Event Website
To help separate your event from your other church fundraising efforts, you should create an event website (or page if you already have a website). This will make it easy to direct congregants and community members to learn more information about your event. For instance, you can easily link to your event page in social media posts, rather than link to your church’s homepage.
Your event page should include information on your fundraiser, such as:
- The date and time of the event.
- Details on how to register for the event.
- Admission fees (if any).
- Information on why you’re raising funds.
In addition to having the right content, the design of your page is just as important. Your event page should match your church’s brand so that your congregants know the two pages are related.
Some congregants are going to look at your page via mobile phones and tablets, so it’s vital that your page be mobile-responsive so everyone has the same viewing experience.
Look at hiring a web designer to help build your page. Professionals can help you with more than just CSS and HTML. They can also assist you with optimizing your page so donors can find the information they need and maintaining your existing brand so that there is no question about whether or not the page is a part of your church’s website.
There’s a lot that goes into planning your fundraising event and creating a website is just one step.
The point is: Having an event page is a great place to direct congregants to if they want to learn more about your event. Just make sure that the content is relevant and beneficial and the design matches your church’s brand.
In the end, branding your church’s next fundraising event boils down to three key principles:
- Keep it consistent.
- Be thoughtful.
- Make it creative.
If you follow those three guiding rules, and you try out all seven of the strategies mentioned in this article, you’re well on your way to church fundraising event success!
Check out these resources to help you raise more money with your event!
- @Pay’s Church Management: 45+ Simple (And Effective) Tips. Need to brush up on your management tips? @Pay dissects all the basics for you to help you improve your church!
- @Pay’s Church Online Giving: 10 Practical (And Effective) Lessons. From beginner tips to intermediate tips, @Pay has your back when it comes to church online giving!
- Double the Donation’s 18 Fundraising Event Software and Tools for Nonprofit Fundraising. Need help with your search for charity auction bidding software? What about text-to-give providers? Peer-to-peer fundraising software? Double the Donation has you covered for any fundraising software you need.
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