As you’re well aware, planning an event is a lot of work. However, after you’ve secured your venue and recruited your volunteers, the success of your event depends on more than just planning ahead.
You need guests to attend in order for your event to be a home run. Marketing your event is a key step to get more people interested in your cause and, hopefully, register to attend your event.
Creating a marketing plan that allows your organization to spread the word about your fundraising event in a fun, captivating way requires 5 key strategies:
- Send out personalized invitations.
- Post about your event on social media.
- Sell merchandise before your event to generate excitement.
- Create a dedicated fundraising event page.
- Create a follow-up plan.
With our expert tips, you’ll learn how to spread awareness about your fundraiser and get supporters interested in attending your event.
Keep reading to learn more!
1. Send out personalized invitations.
Inviting donors to your event is the first way to get people familiar with your upcoming fundraiser. With an invite, you can not only share the specific details of the event (like date, time, and location), but you can also let supporters know how the money will be used and why the event is important to your cause.
But before you send out a generic email to your entire donor base, consider which donors would be most interested in attending your event.
Let’s say you’re hosting a 5K event in Houston, Texas. Supporters that live in or around Houston are more likely to RSVP to your event than donors who live all around the United States.
Additionally, donors that have participated in a marathon, 5K, or walkathon in the past are more likely to attend than those who have never attended a similar fundraising event.
Segmenting your donors by location and interest ensures that you’re sending out invitations to supporters that can attend and are interested in participating your event.
Using your nonprofit CRM, segment your donors based on:
- Location, which will help you pinpoint supporters that are close enough to attend your event.
- Attendance at past events, which will give you a sense of what types of fundraisers your supporters want to attend.
- Average gift size, which will give you an idea of how much a donor is willing to give in order to attend your event.
Once you’ve determined who is most likely to attend your event, you can send donors an invitation letting them know about your upcoming fundraiser.
Be sure to include, a link to where donors can RSVP and register for the event online. Also, include a link to your online donation form, giving those who can’t attend an opportunity to show their support.
2. Post about your event on social media.
Now that you’ve sent out invitations to the supporters that are most likely to attend, it’s time to spread the news far and wide.
What better way to generate some buzz than on social media? With sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you can promote your fundraising event to a wider audience, including those outside your current donor base.
Getting the most eyes on your social media posts comes down to a combination of best practices:
- Always include a link to your website or fundraising event registration page (if you can). Facebook and Twitter make it easy for organizations to link out to key pages. By linking to more information, you can focus on grabbing your readers’ attention, instead of bogging them down with too many details.
- Keep your posts short and succinct. While sites like Facebook and Instagram have a much longer character count than Twitter’s 160 character limit, keeping your post short allows readers to quickly see what you have to say.
- Draw supporters in using images. On social media, you’re competing with friends, other nonprofits, and for-profit companies for your supporters’ attention. Including an image can help set your post apart from all the other content in their news feed.
Social media can help your organization spread the word and encourage more people to attend, but it can also be used to help raise funds during your event.
Many organizations are taking advantage of social media sites to promote their event as it’s happening.
Encourage guests to post pictures of them enjoying your fundraiser, and your team can post on your organization’s social media accounts as well.
This gives people who couldn’t attend your event a chance to see what they’re missing, which could get them more interested in attending your future events or inspire them to donate to your cause.
3. Sell merchandise before your event to generate excitement.
Another great way to generate excitement and raise additional funds is by selling branded merchandise. For example, selling t-shirts that supporters can wear at your event builds a sense of unity and can help you raise additional funds.
Your organization can sell anything from mugs and water bottles to t-shirts and hats. No matter what you decide to sell, we recommend that it offers some value to the supporter and can be showcased on the big day.
Additionally, make sure to brand your merchandise to not only reflect your nonprofit but also the event you’re promoting.
Selling branded merchandise online is the best way to manage your budget and your time. Many online fundraising websites allow you to design and sell products, only charging you for the number of items you sell. Some sites even ship your merchandise directly to the supporter, saving you time that could go toward planning your event.
If you’re not sure where to begin, Snowball has a list of free fundraising websites that let you sell branded apparel and other products.
Once you have supporters purchasing your shirts, encourage them to post pictures of your merchandise online and share it with their friends and family members.
As a result, more people will become interested in your cause, which might urge them to purchase an item or attend your event to learn more.
4. Create a dedicated fundraising event page.
As you begin promoting your event, you need a place where you can direct people to learn more and register to attend. Having a dedicated page on your website is the perfect place to house all the information on your event.
With a dedicated page, promoting your event is easy. All you have to do is link to the page on your social media accounts and online invitations.
If your organization is already using event fundraising software to plan and manage your event, then you already have the tools you need to create an event registration page.
Organizations that don’t already have fundraising event tools should look for a system that:
- Can easily be connected to your donor database.
- Allows you to track metrics to determine the success of your event.
- Provides a quick and easy way for guests to register and contribute to your fundraiser.
For more tips on how to find event software, check out Salsa’s article on 5 questions to ask before buying event fundraising software.
On your fundraising event page, you should include the following key elements to encourage people to attend your event and contribute to your cause:
- Date, time, location, and type of fundraising event.
- Information about the various event packages that donors can register for.
- An explanation of how the funds will be used.
- A fundraising thermometer that displays your organization’s goal and its progress.
With all the key information in one centralized place, you can make it easy for donors to learn more about your event, share it with their friends and family, and register to attend.
5. Create a follow-up plan.
Last but certainly not least, marketing your event isn’t just about spreading the word before the big day. It’s also about promoting your cause after the event by thanking those who participated and letting supporters know that there are even more opportunities to come.
Show those that attended your event and donated to your cause your appreciation by sending out a personalized thank-you letter.
Sending out thank-you letters is a classic strategy to build better donor relationships because it shows them that you’re thankful for their support, not just their monetary contributions. Plus, it keeps your organization front of mind, which might cause donors to share their experiences with your nonprofit to friends and family members.
When your team shows their appreciation, donors are much more likely to attend future events and continue to give to your nonprofit.
Thank-you letters are also the perfect opportunity to tell supporters about other fundraising event and volunteer opportunities.
Therefore, creating a follow-up plan not only helps you retain donors, but it also gives you space to market other fundraising events in your nonprofit’s agenda!
From posting on social media to creating a fundraising event page, your organization is now equipped with the best ways to market your event.
Use these 5 strategies to boost your attendance and raise more money for your cause!
Guest Blogger: John Killoran – CEO, Snowball
John Killoran is CEO of Snowball, a complete fundraising platform that features the best online donation pages, secure text-to-give, event fundraising tools, simplified peer-to-peer capabilities and more.