Nonprofit fundraising events continue to be one of the most effective ways to bring in revenue for your cause while engaging with supporters face to face. But in order to pull off a profitable (and popular) fundraiser, you’ll need to have a strategy for attracting guests and securing registrations.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to promoting your upcoming fundraising event, don’t fret. All it takes is a little dedication and some creativity!
To help put you ahead of the curve for your event marketing strategy, we’ve got 5 top-notch tips for getting the word out and getting supporters to your event:
- Sell merchandise to promote your fundraising event.
- Optimize your fundraising event email marketing tactics.
- Make the most of social media to promote your event.
- Partner with strategic sponsors for your fundraising event.
- Offer online fundraising event participation options.
Stick with us to see how these ideas can kick your event into overdrive before it even begins.
Bonus: Planning your event in Salesforce? Read this post to learn the basics of Salesforce event management; then come back to fine-tune your marketing approach!
1. Sell merchandise to promote your fundraising event.
To combine your marketing and fundraising strategies, try selling merchandise leading up to your big event!
Not only can selling merchandise online help you bring in some extra donations before your fundraiser, but it can also provide a creative way for you to engage with your supporters and unite a community around your cause.
To pull off a merchandise fundraiser, you’ll need to work with a reputable online merchandiser to design and distribute your products. Make sure you find an online retailer that offers plenty of customization options so you can outfit your supporters in options that reflect your event and organization.
For example, check out how Bonfire’s online t-shirt design tool lets nonprofits create products for any cause, event, or campaign:
Aside from working with an excellent fundraising website, keep these tips in mind for marketing success with your t-shirt fundraiser:
- Brand your merchandise to match your event. Strong branding is an important part of event marketing, and your merchandise designs can reinforce the brand you’ve created for your fundraiser. Make sure you include the name of your event and your organization so anyone who sees the products instantly knows what they’re promoting.
- Promote your merchandise sale on your event registration page. Whether you’ve set up a dedicated micro-site or just a Facebook event page, make sure you’re clearly linking to your merchandise store anytime you promote your event. That way, supporters don’t miss out on your products when researching your event.
- Offer multiple products before (and during) your event. Your supporters don’t all share the same style or preferences, so give them plenty of merchandise options to choose from. Even better, order products that you can plan to display in person at your event so they can see the products themselves before buying their favorites.
When your supporters sport their gear, they’ll be reminded of how much fun they had at your event. And when they wear their new t-shirts or other branded products out in their communities, their friends are sure to take notice. That means greater awareness for your nonprofit and maybe even greater attendance at your fundraising events!
2. Optimize your fundraising event email marketing tactics.
You can bet that nearly every constituent in your database has at least one email address. So if you think email marketing is on its way out, think again!
In fact, email marketing is only growing in its ability to connect you to your supporters. When it comes time to promote your next fundraiser, make sure you’re not leaving email out of the loop.
By now, you’re probably familiar with some of the most tried-and-true tactics for getting supporters to open your nonprofit’s emails. A catchy subject line, mobile-ready format, and strong branding will all help captivate readers. But in order to make these messages effective for your event marketing strategy, you need to get supporters to do more than just read. You need to convince them to act!
To get email recipients from Point A (their inboxes) to Point B (your event), include these important calls-to-action across your emails:
- A link to register or RSVP. Obviously, the most important action you can inspire is signing up to attend your fundraiser! Include a bright button at the end of your emails that links directly to your event registration form or your online ticket options.
- An easy donate button. Whether or not your supporters can make it to your event, make sure they have the option to contribute to your campaign. A mobile-optimized and email-ready donate button can enable supporters to donate instantly from any device.
- Social sharing options. Remind supporters to invite their friends and family to your event by including quick social sharing tools within your emails. That way, if recipients have already signed up to attend themselves, they can extend their impact by promoting your event to their online networks.
For example, check out how you can integrate @Pay’s email buttons to secure gifts seamlessly:
The more straightforward it is for supporters to take action through your emails, the more likely they are to follow through. When in doubt, test your event marketing emails before you send them. Would you RSVP, donate, or share?
3. Make the most of social media to promote your event.
By now, all nonprofits should be using social media to engage with supporters, broaden their base of support, and encourage online donations. Social media can be integral to your event marketing strategy, too—if you know how to get the most from your online networks.
But because social media has become so ubiquitous, you can be sure that your nonprofit’s event will be competing with a lot of noise to catch your supporters’ attention online. Not only will you have to consider other nonprofits your constituents may be following, but you’ll also have to consider all the other members of their online networks, such as businesses, friends, and even public figures.
In order to make your event stand out, you need to do more than just post content; you need to use your content as a vehicle for engaging with your audience! Here are just a few tips for how you can do that on virtually any social media platform:
- Offer exclusive event discounts or offers to your followers. Remind followers how much you value their online support by rewarding them with special deals. By promoting a “Followers Only” discount code or unique registration package (think: discounted merchandise with each ticket), you can thank supporters for being part of your online community while incentivizing event attendance.
- Promote text-to-give on your social media pages. Many of your social followers are already checking their news feeds on mobile devices, so give them a donation opportunity they can complete without ever leaving their smartphones. Add in reminders about your text-to-give fundraiser throughout your social media event promotions, and let followers know you’ll reveal how much you’ve raised on the day of your event.
- Put your cause at the center of your event promotions. The best way to catch a donor’s attention online? Remind them why they followed your page in the first place! Include images or videos that immediately highlight your cause so users are less likely to scroll past your posts. Explain how your event relates to your mission, and they’re sure to feel inspired to attend.
The great thing about social media is that you can make your online presence entirely your own. If you’ve got creative event marketing ideas up your sleeve, social media is one of the best places to try them out.
Bonus: Not sure the best way to ask for money on social media and across the web? Check out these top tips for securing donations online.
4. Partner with strategic sponsors for your fundraising event.
It’s tough to pull off a major fundraising event without a little help. For most nonprofits, that help comes in the form of sponsorship offered by local businesses or even major corporations.
The relationship between businesses and nonprofits is an important one. When you prioritize long-term partnerships with these entities the same way you would an individual donor, you can reap ongoing benefits that range from event sponsorship to many other forms of corporate giving.
But in order to build your best event, you should take a strategic approach to securing sponsorship. Rather than looking for any and all willing sponsors, search for businesses who:
- Have an existing relationship with your organization. Search your donor database for any ties you already have to businesses in your community so you have a jumping off point for your sponsorship request. (If you’re not storing employment data in your CRM, you can always reach out to supporters or find software to automate this process for you.)
- Can offer the type of sponsorship you need. Before you start calling on businesses, put together a realistic plan for what you need from potential sponsors. You might need financial support, a venue to hold your event, in-kind donations or auction items, or volunteers to keep your event running smoothly. Knowing what you need will make it possible to find sponsors who can actually provide it.
- Share your nonprofit’s mission and vision for the event. Look for businesses who have sponsored similar events in the past or who have a history of backing like-minded organizations. Moreover, make sure that any companies you consider are on the same page in terms of what the event and sponsorship will actually look like. Be clear with what you’re planning to offer them in terms of marketing and publicity.
With the right sponsors on your side, you’ll gain access to the resources you need to make your event as successful as possible. But even better, you’ll gain access to their entire network of customers as potential guests and new supporters of your cause. Make sure you find sponsors who are happy to spread the word about your event on their social media profiles and on-site at their businesses through flyers or other forms of promotion.
Not only can a smarter search for sponsors save you time, but it can also make it easier to find businesses who are interested in more than just the good publicity your fundraiser offers. Instead, you’ll hopefully end up with a corporate partner who can contribute to your cause in a variety of ways for years to come.
5. Offer online fundraising event participation options.
Fundraising events take place in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include online engagement opportunities leading up to, during, and even after your fundraiser.
In fact, adding an online element to your fundraising event can expand your marketing reach in a number of ways by:
- Allowing supporters who can’t attend the event to participate and contribute.
- Encouraging event guests to stay engaged during the event by getting involved in your online activities.
- Creating awareness for your event (and cause) online through your network as well as your supporters’ networks.
There’s almost no limit to the ways that you can inspire online engagement both for event guests and those who couldn’t make it. As you’re planning for your next event, make sure you consider what digital elements you can include.
Need inspiration? Check out our favorite digital components you can easily tie into your fundraiser:
- Run social media contests during the event. Host an online contest to encourage guests and non-attending supporters to use your event hashtag or re-post event-related content. Offer a prize to the individual who brings in the most “likes” on their post, such as a free piece of branded merchandise.
- Broadcast your event thermometer online. You should definitely keep tabs on your fundraising progress throughout the night using an event thermometer, but by displaying the tracker on your event website or social media pages, you can keep everyone in the know and encourage last-minute gifts from all over the world as you near your gaol.
- Encourage mobile giving during the event. One of the best perks of mobile giving is that you can collect donations anywhere, anytime! Remind guests about your mobile giving and text-to-give options during your event’s live appeal, and continue promoting these easy channels online during the event, too.
By using your fundraising event to engage all different aspects of your constituency, you’ll create a larger community around your fundraiser than ever before. That means increased fundraising potential for your cause and greater awareness for your organization!
The more strategic your event marketing is, the more successful your fundraising event will be.
Now that you’ve got some tips for getting supporters to your big fundraiser, start planning the festivities! Check out these additional resources for targeted fundraising strategies for different types of organizations on event day and beyond:
- 30+ School Fundraising Ideas. If you’re planning a fundraising event for your school, PTA group, or university, an event is just one of many approaches you can take. Check out our creative fundraising ideas for schools of any size and students of any age.
- Bonfire’s Church Crowdfunding Strategies. For churches and faith-based organizations, events are crucial! Learn other ways to bring in funds for your congregation using crowdfunding and other time-tested strategies.
- Museum Fundraising Event Ideas from Doubleknot. Museums and science centers rely on fundraising events, but finding the right type of event can be tricky. Learn from the experts at Doubleknot to plan your best fundraiser yet.
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