Does your nonprofit host events? If yes, then you know all that it takes to pull off a successful event—including creative concept, dynamic speakers, and profitable auction.
Something that often gets missed? Major donor follow-up!
After the immense effort required to put on a fundraising event, it is tempting to take a breather after it’s over—maybe a few days off? After all, your donors were steeped in your message at the event so that’s good enough, right?
Wrong! Your donors—especially those who give major gifts at your event—still want to hear from you.
In fact, many of them wake up the morning following your event asking themselves 3 questions:
How much total money did that event raise last night?
How will the organization spend my contribution? (I hope they spend it wisely.)
I was pretty generous last night…how will I be acknowledged?
Answering these questions promptly (and repeatedly) for your donors is the heart of major gifts stewardship. Yes, the primary purpose of your event was to raise a significant amount of money in one night.
But your event is also a springboard for continued relationship building over the coming months and years. Don’t delay—dive right in!
The warm and fuzzy feelings of inspiration that happen during a big fundraising event are fleeting, lasting just a matter of days. If you can share the good outcomes of your event with donors quickly, you reinforce those good feelings about your organization before they fade. And you move that donor relationship forward by leaps and bounds.
To accomplish post-event communications with major donors quickly, keep your tactics simple. Consider tools like:
- Thank you calls – These can be short and can start immediately after the event, before formal thank-you letters have even gone out the door. The primary purpose is to THANK donors, but you can also ask what they thought of the event. Senior staff, your executive director, and/or board members are the best folks to make these calls.
- Handwritten, personalized thank-you notes or emails – These can also be short, written by the same folks mentioned above. Timing is what matters most—get them out ASAP, while the good vibes from your event are still fresh in your donors’ minds.
- Formal thank-you letters – Every donor will want a formal acknowledgment letter eventually for tax purposes. Quick receipt of a letter containing correct information about their gift impresses donors. If you are mired in the work of tracking down addresses or gift amounts though, this process can take longer. Do one or two of the other easier-to-execute tactics first to make sure donors hear SOMETHING from you soon.
Last, can we have a drum roll please….my favorite post-event communication (and the easiest!) of all:
A short email sent the morning after your event to EVERYONE on your mailing list—whether they attended the event or not. This email should contain 4 elements:
- A great event photo or video;
- A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended;
- The total $ raised at the event and SHORT description of what those funds will support;
- A donate button at the bottom of the message offering those who couldn’t attend one more chance to be part of the positive momentum.
Tip: All of this post-event activity certainly requires thought and planning BEFORE your event happens. Be sure to build this into your planning timelines!
What is your experience with special event follow-up? Have you been sending a post-event email the morning after? Please share your thoughts or experience in the Comments box below!
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