Hosting a fundraising event in the aftermath of Covid brings new challenges along with the old. Here are some things to keep in mind for your next post-covid non-profit event.
Fundraising events took a hit during the pandemic as all other events. Non-profit organizations have suffered for this as these events not only provide opportunities to bring in donations but also help attract new donors and expand awareness about the non-profit. According to this survey by Fidelity Charitable, a significant amount of prospective donors want to assist non-profits now more than ever, with 25% of them wanting to increase their support due to the many social inequalities exposed by the pandemic.
However, the Fidelity Charitable survey reports that 32% of donors don’t know how to support non-profits in light of the impact of Covid-19. There is a gap between donors and non-profit organizations. And that indicates a need for more fundraising events where non-profits can educate donors about their organizations.
Fundraising goals have also been changed as donors adjust to new financial contexts. This, in turn, means the scale and nature of fundraising events have also changed. Events like galas or athletic gatherings are not the obvious choices anymore. However, with digital communication firmly entrenched in the “new normal,” fundraising events can help non-profits reach more people using remote engagement strategies.
Virtual Fundraising Events and Mobile Donations
Even though we are past the social distancing restrictions of the pandemic, virtual events are still a viable option for non-profits. They make the event more accessible and give donors more alternatives to contribute:
A Friendly Event Website
The overall message in a virtual fundraising event should be directing attendees to a website to access the donation page. Thus, it is crucial that the text on the website is clear and is contrasted by a light background. Mobile paying services that can be used include PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or the digital wallet application on most smartphones.
Many people are already registered on these and simply have to log in to donate. It’s also essential to ensure that the website is easy to navigate and accommodates everyone. That includes people who are not so “technology-savvy.”
Creating An App For The Fundraising Event
The financial resources spent on a physical event could also be utilized to create an app for the non-profit and launch it at a virtual fundraising event. Furthermore, the app could partner with one or two other organizations to provide users with more functions. This would give donors incentive to keep using the app and donate to the non-profit long after the actual event.
The functions of the app could be matched to the non-profit’s work. For example, a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for donating books to underprivileged schools could create an app that functions as a book-exchanging platform. Or perhaps partner with local bookstores to make new books available for purchase on the app, thus providing donors convenience in return for their contribution.
Many startups offer event apps as a service, but we’ll let Eventbrite make the recommendations here.
Embedding Donations Into Social Media
More social media apps now allow purchases and donations directly on pages. This is effective, especially with a younger audience who are looking for maximum convenience. This also gives a fundraiser more chances to direct donors to the non-profit’s website by linking stories, reels, or the page’s bio.
Democratizing The Event
Ultimately, making your event virtual is about reaching as many people as possible on whatever platform they are on. Therefore, it will help structure your event to translate across all digital platforms, including website, email, text messages, and all social media. You also want it to be compatible with all devices, i.e., laptops, tablets, and cell phones so that it can be accessed in any format. This might mean brushing up on your website designing skills and social media management. It will be worth the effort if you want your fundraising event to reach more people.
Physical Fundraising Events
Virtual events have taught us that we can’t easily trade off the social aspect of having people together in the same space. In a physical fundraising event, donors are given a chance to help a cause, participate in physical activities, and feel part of a community. There are various ways that a fundraising event can cut financial corners and still sustain a large number of guests:
Soliciting sponsorship for fundraising events must be the top priority as it makes the event cost less. Due to the pandemic, some sponsors withdrew or reduced their contributions. This can be mitigated by partnering with various sponsors at once. A truth that remains is that companies want to gain the goodwill of consumers who now, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, place more value on companies’ ethics than competence.
As an event planner, you can take advantage of this when you send your event proposals to companies by showing that the non-profit advocates for a cause that is popular amongst consumers.
Get as many volunteers as you can from the start to help you and your staff plan the event. This may be difficult as many people have had their work and family situations upended by the pandemic. As a result, many are reluctant to volunteer for fear of infection or lack spare time due to taking on extra work. Therefore, when communicating with volunteers, remind them why they signed up in the first place and how much more of their help is still needed.
Remind Your Attendees Why They Are There
Your attendees need to enjoy themselves at your event. Still, you cannot let them forget that the ultimate reason they are there is because you need them to contribute. Let them know your fundraising goal and what the money will be used for by any means possible. This may require you to create content that can be disseminated before and during the event. It can be videos or photographs of how the proceeds will be used.
Be concise in your messaging and in your event timeline during the event so that it does not take longer than it needs to. In the case of a gala or an auction, you need to think carefully about who you will ask to speak and how long they may speak. In a performance-based event, be sure to start early and have cut-offs so that your event has clear time boundaries.
Communicate Across Multiple Channels
Although you are planning a physical event, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Accommodate every type of attendee by streaming your event live on all your social media platforms. Ensure there is staff to answer any questions and queries that may come from these channels. You can also run your event program dually, such as having a physical auction and running it concurrently online.
Your present and prospective donors need to be handled with care. As the world attempts to recover from the economic tension of the pandemic, your donors will respond better to empathy and patience than constant spamming and cajoling:
Make sure that each email, text message, or social media post is not a guilt trip but simply a call to action. You also want to communicate only when necessary – understand that your donors’ mailboxes are full, and they are dealing with many requests.
Ask Donors How You Can Do Better At Your Next Fundraising Event
Ask donors what they need from you: do they need less of one kind of communication and more of another, or do they want different content? You can also ask donors about their experience at your event and how you and your team could do better next time. You can obtain this information by sending out a survey after your event, of course keeping it short and to the point.
Thank Donors As Individuals
Many fundraisers will send the customary thank-you email after the event. However, it may not sit well with all your donors after years of receiving the same message. Depending on the size of the donation, a formal thank-you letter or even a phone call may be to show the donor your appreciation and encourage future donations. Think of your donors as individuals and communicate with them as such.
In conclusion, successful fundraising events are still possible even in this unstable “new normal.” Focus on fostering good relations with your stakeholders, from your staff and volunteers to your sponsorships and donors. Acknowledge each party’s challenges and show how much you appreciate their support. In turn, they will become loyal to your non-profit and help you continue raising funds in the future.