Practical Ideas to Try

You’re in charge of your organization’s gala, silent auction or other revenue-raising event. While it might seem like a daunting task, take heart; you don’t have to do things the same way they have been executed for the last 20 years. In fact, attendees want a sense of freshness at an annual event and most likely will welcome any changes you have in mind.


However, it’s important to remember (especially if you’re new to fundraising), that people give and attend nonprofit events for three reasons:

  1. They believe in the mission of the organization.
  2. Someone they care about believes in the mission.
  3. They or someone they know can directly benefit from the nonprofit.

If your organization is not marketing to the audience listed in these three bullets, now is the time to redefine and zone in on your target market and use the ideas below to make your event special.


1. Formulate strong corporate sponsorships through customization.
The days of platinum, gold and silver sponsor levels are gone. Today’s corporate sponsors want exposure that resonates well with their audience. Here are a few ways you can make their sponsorships unique:

  • Dedicate bricks, lockers or specific rooms in your building to the company.
  • Include their logo on your event page.
  • Give them VIP passes to the event (e.g., free parking, front-row seating, preconference cocktail hour, one-on-one engagement with the keynote).
  • Include them in your event video.
  • Ask if they will give a matching grant.

Remember to start working on the relationship well before the event, as many require a 12- to 15-month approval cycle.

2. Spend time with major donors.
There are donors who attend your event every year. Try to find out the WHY and then focus on the WHO. In other words, if you run an organization dedicated to Parkinson’s disease research and find out a donor’s mother has Parkinson’s, it’s wise to ask if other family members might be interested in coming to your event. This is the easiest way to grow your attendance.

3. Use social media.
According to Pew Research Center, 65 percent of all adults use at least one social platform. In addition, npENGAGE found that nonprofits that use social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube communicated with their networks more regularly and sent more messages. This resulted in an increase in fundraising results by up to 40 percent!

Facebook is one of the largest and most active social media platforms in the U.S. There are three ways you can use it effectively:

  • Create an event page and ask attendees to share it within their network. Facebook has a new feature allowing them to email or text the event details to non-Facebook users.
  • Place a post on your Facebook company page and boost it via paid advertising.
  • Use Facebook Live on your smartphone to capture what’s happening at the event on a real-time basis. Encourage attendees to do the same, as it allows virtual users to feel engaged.

Establish an event hashtag on Twitter and use it often. Since Twitter owns Periscope and Vine, videos can be displayed on your organization’s Twitter timeline. Use a video wall to display the Twitter feed in real time. The wall can be a natural gathering point for attendees to see what others are tweeting.

Use social media to ask for feedback — what attendees liked, didn’t like and ways to improve your event next year. Ask for suggestions to shake up the event and keep it moving in the right direction.


4. Spread the word via video.
According to Cisco, video will account for 69 percent of all internet traffic by the end of next year. Live video seems to be the name of the game, with previously mentioned Facebook Live. But there are others including YouTube, Periscope and Instagram or Vine for very short videos.

The point is, people are digesting content via video, and it’s important that your event is using it to reel in remote users.


5. Implement a strong call to action.
If you want individuals to come to your event, ask them! Include a call to action in all your marketing collateral and make event registration easy. Be sure to include an email address and telephone number in case the potential attendee has a question.


6. Hire a project-oriented event coordinator.
The day of the event, you don’t want to be swallowed up with the little details. Hire a professional who can work with you and the event venue to work through every detail from planning to execution. Then you and your staff can spend quality time with sponsors and donors — just as it should be!


Kalahari Is the Place to Hold Your Next Fundraising Event

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions combines the best in family-friendly resort amenities with massive, state-of-the-art convention space. Most events experience on average a 20 percent increase in meeting attendance. To schedule a site visit and learn more about ways Kalahari can help you, call us at 855.411.4605 today!