As a fundraiser, you know that major donors are crucial to the success of your events. They provide the financial support that allows you to put on a high-quality event that will attract and engage potential donors. But how do you get major donors involved in your event?
Here are 12 strategic ways to get major donors involved in your events:
1. Send a personal invitation.
One way to cultivate a relationship with major donors is by sending them personal invitations to events. This gesture shows that the organization is willing to take the time to connect with its supporters on a personal level. It also demonstrates that the nonprofit is grateful for the donor’s previous contributions. Furthermore, inviting major donors to events can help to generate new donations. Seeing the nonprofit’s work firsthand can inspire donors to continue their support. Therefore, sending personal invitations is an important step in fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
2. Ask them to be a featured speaker.
You may be considering asking one of them to serve as a featured speaker at an upcoming event. While this can be a great way to engage your donors, it’s important to approach the situation strategically. Here are a few tips to help you secure a major donor as a featured speaker for your event.
Think about what you have to offer. What can you offer the donor that would make them want to speak at your event? Perhaps you can offer them VIP treatment, media exposure, or the opportunity to reach a new audience. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you can offer before you make your ask.
Do your homework. It’s important to know who you’re going to be asking before you make your pitch. What is their background? What are their interests? What motivates them? Answering these questions will help you craft a personalized ask that is more likely to result in a yes.
Be clear about what you need from them. When you make your ask, be sure to be specific about what you’re looking for. Do you need them to give a speech? Serve on a panel? moderate a Q&A session? The more specific you are, the better.
Make it easy for them to say yes. No one wants to feel like they’re being inconvenienced, so make it easy for the donor to say yes by doing as much of the legwork as possible upfront. This might include researching potential topics, preparing talking points, or arranging travel and accommodations.
By following these tips, you’ll be in a good position to secure a major donor as a featured speaker for your upcoming event. Keep in mind that the key is to think about what you can offer the donor and make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. With careful planning and execution, you’ll be sure to secure the speaker you need for your event.
3. Give them VIP treatment.
Before the event, come up with a few ways that you can make sure each donor feels like a valued member of your community. This could involve something as simple as having a staff member or volunteer greet each donor as they arrive and thank them for their support. Or, it could be something more involved such as setting up a special table where donors can mingle with other VIPs and receive recognition for their generosity. Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan in place so that everyone knows what their role is in making the donors feel special.
One of the best ways to make your donors feel appreciated is to give them exclusive access to parts of the event that other attendees don’t have. This could be something as simple as giving them front row seating or allowing them to bypass lines at food and drink stations. If you have an author or celebrity appearing at your event, make sure your donors have the opportunity to meet them in person and get autographs. Insider treatment like this will make your donors feel appreciated and encourage them to stay involved with your organization.
Make sure you know what your VIPs need in order to enjoy the event to its fullest. This includes things like ADA access, dietary restrictions, and transportation needs. By taking care of these needs ahead of time, you’ll make sure your VIPs can relax and enjoy the event without having to worry about anything. And when your VIPs are happy, they’re more likely to continue supporting your organization in the future.
Create an exclusive donor lounge. Have an area at your event that is reserved exclusively for donors (and their guests, if applicable). This could be a VIP section at a concert or sporting event, or a separate room at a gala or conference. This will give donors a chance to mingle with other like-minded individuals and make new connections.
Don’t forget to say thank you after the event! A personalized note or phone call goes a long way in showing how much you appreciate someone’s support. You can also use this opportunity to update donors on how their contributions helped make the event a success and what impact they had on those who attended. After all, feeling like their involvement made a difference is one of the main reasons people choose to donate in the first place!
4. Recognize their support publicly.
Recognize your major donors during the event with a public thank-you from you or another key staff member. (A little donor recognition never hurt anyone!) If you have video capabilities, consider playing a short clip expressing gratitude for their support. And be sure to mention any specific projects or initiatives their donation is supporting so they can see the tangible impact of their contribution.
5. Give them the opportunity to network with other major donors.
If you’re planning a major donor event, chances are you’re focused on the program and making sure everything runs smoothly. But it’s also important to allow time for your donors to network with each other. Here’s why:
When your donors have the opportunity to meet and talk to each other, they become more invested in your cause. They feel like they’re part of a community and not just writing a check. And when they feel that sense of connection, they’re more likely to continue their support.
Plus, when donors get to know each other, they can be an even bigger asset to your organization. They can make introductions, provide advice and counsel, and open up new opportunities for you.
One idea is to host a pre-event reception. Invite your top donors (and their guests) to a special reception before the main event starts. This is an opportunity for you to thank them for their involvement and let them know how much you appreciate their support. It’s also a great opportunity for donors to meet other VIPs and get acquainted with one another before the main event begins.
So don’t forget to build in some time for networking at your next major donor event! It’s good for your donors AND good for your organization.
6. Give them behind-the-scenes access.
Demonstrating the impact of a donor’s support is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship and developing future giving opportunities. One way to do this is by offering exclusive, behind-the scenes access to a major donor event.
This type of event allows donors to see how their contributions are being used while also providing an opportunity for your organization to show off its work in a venue that is controlled and manageable. In addition, showcasing your work in this way can provide valuable lessons learned that can be used to improve future events.
Last but not least, offering this type of exclusive access strengthens the relationship between you and your donors by making them feel appreciated and valued. When done correctly, this simple act can result in increased giving levels and a deeper level of engagement from your most loyal supporters.
7. Segment them for additional marketing and stewardship opportunities.
Getting more major donors to attend your events can be a challenge. But by segmenting them for additional marketing and stewardship opportunities, you can improve your chances of getting them to attend. Here’s how to do it.
Identify your most active major donors. These are the donors who have attended your events in the past and are most likely to attend again.
Segment them into different groups based on their level of activity. For example, you might have a “superactive” group, a “very active” group, and an “active” group.
For each group, create a customized marketing and stewardship plan. This could include personalizing invitations, offering VIP treatment at the event, or sending post-event thank-you letters.
Implement your plans and track your results. If you see an increase in attendance from your major donors, then you know you’re on the right track!
8. Ask for their feedback and input.
Asking for feedback can be difficult, especially when it comes to events that you have put a lot of time and effort into planning. However, feedback is essential for understanding what worked and what didn’t work so that you can make improvements for future events. Additionally, feedback shows donors that you value their opinions and are willing to make changes based on their input. Here are a few tips for asking for feedback from donors after your next major donor event.
There are two main benefits to asking for feedback from donors after a major donor event. First, it shows that you value their input and want to make sure they have a positive experience. Second, it provides you with valuable information that you can use to improve future events.
When done correctly, asking for feedback should be an ongoing process, not something you only do once in a while. By constantly asking for and acting on feedback, you can ensure that your events are constantly improving. This will not only make your current donors happy, but it will also attract new donors who are looking for a well-run event.
Once you’ve gathered feedback from your donors, it’s time to put it into action. The first step is to identify any patterns in the feedback you received. Are there certain areas that need improvement? Are there common themes? Once you’ve identified the areas that need improvement, you can start making changes for your next event.
For example, let’s say you received feedback that donors felt rushed during the event and didn’t have enough time to mingle with other guests. In this case, you might consider lengthening the event by 30 minutes or adding more breaks throughout the night. By making small changes like this, you can ensure that your donors have a positive experience at your next event.
Donor feedback is essential for planning successful major donor events. It provides valuable insights that can be used to improve future events. When soliciting feedback from donors, be sure to focus on specific areas of improvement and act on the feedback you receive. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your next major donor event is a success!
9. Try creative types of events.
Major donor cultivation and stewardship events are a staple of successful fundraising programs. They provide an opportunity for your team to deepen relationships with existing donors and cultivate new ones. When it comes to organizing these events, there are endless possibilities. But coming up with fresh, creative ideas can sometimes be a challenge.
To get the wheels turning, we’ve compiled a list of five major donor events that are sure to inspire your team. From an intimate wine-tasting event to a luxurious weekend getaway, there’s something on this list for every type of donor. And best of all? Each event can be tailored to fit your budget and fundraising goals.
Idea #1: An Intimate Wine-Tasting Event
Wine tastings are a great way to show appreciation for your major donors while also deepening relationships and fostering new ones. If you have a smaller budget, consider hosting the event at a local wine bar or restaurant. For a more high-end experience, you could rent out a vineyard for the evening.
Idea #2: A behind-the-scenes tour
One of the best ways to show your donors the impact of their contributions is to give them a behind-the-scenes look at your organization in action. This could be anything from a tour of your facilities to meeting the people who benefit from your programs. Not only will they get to see first-hand the difference their donations make, but they’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about your work.
Idea #3: A Weekend Getaway
For donors who love to travel, consider organizing a luxurious weekend getaway in a nearby city or town. Many hotels offer special rates for groups, so be sure to ask about group discounts when you’re making your reservation. You could also look into partnering with a local tour company to add some extra flair to the weekend itinerary.
Idea #4: A Sporting Event
Whether it’s tickets to the big game or front row seats at the ballet, sporting events make for great donor appreciation gifts. If you’re looking for something truly unique, try auctioning off VIP experiences like meeting the players after the game or watching backstage as the dancers prepare for their performance.
Idea #5: A Gala Concert
If you have connections in the music industry, consider organizing a private concert for your major donors. This is an especially good option if you’re working with a tight budget because many musicians are happy to perform for free if they know it will lead to future bookings down the road. You could also look into partnering with a local music venue or school to use their facilities free of charge.
When it comes to major donor cultivation events, there’s no shortage of options available— which can sometimes make brainstorming feel more like an exercise in frustration than creativity! We hope this list has given you some inspiration for your next event by showing that there are endless possibilities beyond the standard gala dinner or golf tournament (although those can be great too!).
10. Have a plan for follow-up and stewardship post-event.
Major donor events are great opportunities to cultivate and solicit donors. But your work is not done when the event is over. You also need to have a plan for follow-up and stewardship post-event. This is important to maintain relationships with donors and keep them engaged with your cause. Here are some tips for follow-up and stewardship post-event.
Tip #1: Send a thank you note within one week of the event.
Be sure to include a personal note and update the donor on how their gift is being used. This is a good opportunity to ask for feedback on the event as well.
Tip #2: Schedule a meeting or call with the donor within one month of the event.
This is an opportunity to thank them again, get an update on how they are doing, and ask for feedback on the event. It is also a good time to ask about their continued interest in supporting your organization and what other ways they might be interested in getting involved.
Tip #3: Send another update on how their gift is being used six months after the event.
This update can be in the form of a letter, email, or phone call. It is also a good time to ask if they would like to visit your organization to see firsthand how their donation is making a difference.
Tip #4: Finally, send a hand-written note or small gift on the one-year anniversary of the event along with an update of how their donation has made an impact.
This is a good way to stay top of mind and show your appreciation for their continued support.
Following up after major donor events is essential to maintaining relationships with donors and keeping them engaged with your cause. By following these tips, you can ensure that you are providing the best possible stewardship for your donors post-event.
11. Keep them updated on your progress leading up to the event date.
As event date approaches, it’s crucial to keep your donors in the loop on your progress. Here are four tips on how to do so:
Tip #1: Send regular updates.
Whether it’s a monthly e-newsletter or a personal phone call, make sure you’re staying in touch with your donors and updating them on your progress. This helps build relationships and keeps your donors engaged.
Tip #2: Be transparent.
Be upfront about what you’re working on and any challenges you’re facing. This will help build trust and ensure that your donors feel like they’re part of the process.
Tip #3: Keep your website up-to-date.
Your website should be the go-to source for information on your event. Make sure to post regular updates and include a countdown to the event date.
12. Ask them to host a VIP table.
Donor-hosted VIP tables are a great way to engage major donors and give them a chance to interact with other like-minded individuals. Here are three benefits of donor-hosted VIP tables.
Tip #1: Donor-hosted VIP tables increase donor participation.
When donors are given the opportunity to host a VIP table at an event, they are more likely to participate in the event. This is because they feel more invested in the event and are more likely to invite their friends and colleagues. This not only increases attendance at the event but also raises awareness for the cause.
Tip #2: Donor-hosted VIP tables deepen relationships with major donors.
By hosting a VIP table, donors have the opportunity to deepen their relationship with the organization. They also have the chance to get to know other major donors and create a network of support for the cause. This deeper level of engagement can lead to increased financial support from donors in the future.
Tip #3: Donor-hosted VIP tables create a sense of community.
When donors host VIP tables, they create a sense of community around the cause. This is because they are inviting like-minded individuals to come together and support the organization. This creates a stronger base of support for the organization and can lead to increased fundraising success in the future.
By following these 12 strategic ways, you will be well on your way to getting major donors involved in your next event! By making them feel valued and appreciated, you will keep them coming back year after year and build a strong relationship of giving that will benefit your cause for years to come!