Realizing your goals
Special events, like all fundraising initiatives, are never truly over. Continuing to creatively communicate with your organization’s supporters is key to retaining and growing gifts without feeling like you’re always making an ask. Remember: the people that support your organization have a vested interested in what you do and want to see you succeed. Naturally, they’ll wanted to stay informed with how things are going and participate in your continued success.
Post-event follow up is crucial not only because it’s necessary to thank contributors, but because really good follow up marketing sets you up to seamlessly transition into future communications and starts the work of cultivating an audience for your next event. It’s important to know beforehand what you want to achieve with your follow up, so never slap something together just to get it out there.
Here are a few goals to consider:
- Boost retention
- Capture those who didn’t give or attend
- Further recognize sponsors
- Extend the event experience
Traditionally, thank you letters and emails are the go-to following an event. These forms of communicating are great and actually super important, but let’s not forget that other piece of event-specific gold you’ve probably got boxed up somewhere in your office: the sponsorship journal. If you recall from last week, we talked about how taking an integrated approach—printing and digitally publishing—extends the shelf life of your sponsorship journal and make it more engaging. Well, here’s where ad journals can really get put into action.
So what does this all look like?
There are basically three phases to your post-event communications: initial thank you, announcement of fundraising totals, and ongoing stewardship. Utilizing your digital sponsorship journal throughout these phases helps can add weight to your emails, provides a better pathway for engagement, and allows you and your audience to continue reeling in the excitement of the big day. Let’s take a closer look!
Initial Thank You
Sure you’re exhausted, but the rule of thumb when it comes to thanking guests and supporters is: always be prompt. When you sit down to plan your emails, keep the following things in mind:
- Celebrate the heartwarming and fun moments of your event
- You might not have your totals, but you’ll know if you were successful or not
- If you met or exceeded your goal, boast it!
- If you didn’t hit your goal, use this opportunity to inspire additional gifts.
- Thank your attendees and volunteers profusely for their support
- Post short messages of a similar sentiment on social media
Easily update the digital version of your journal with any available photos or videos from the event, include a thank you message from your Executive Director or Board Chair thanking attendees (some platforms will even allow you to upload an audio track for this!), update donor or sponsor lists with any late registrations or ads, and encourage social sharing directly from your publication! Remind them of the great time they had if they attended, or show them what they missed out on by not coming this year. This is the chance to show your organization’s personality, flare, and further recognize contributors.
Announce Fundraising Totals
Once you’ve had a chance to crunch all your numbers, be sure to communicate results with the various members of your gala audience. Let them know how much they helped you raise and most importantly, how you’ll be putting those dollars to work. This is an opportunity to reconnect these supporters with your mission, furthering their deeper connection with your organization. Be sure to segment these emails to the various types of individuals receiving these communications, like honorees, committee members, sponsors or underwriters, attendees, and even those who didn’t give or attend.
Easily update the digital version of your journal to include a celebratory special page noting the amount of money raised (or an additional appeal if you didn’t reach your goal), audio or video testimonials from attendees or beneficiaries, organizational information and photos about programs that may not have been included in the printed version, or even reach out to sponsors to see if they’d like to contribute a message after the fact. Remember, this is an opportunity to raise additional dollar but also to inspire action like volunteering.
Begin to steward
Each touch, whether by direct mail or email, is priming recipients for future communications that will steward their support. In the final round of follow up emails, be sure to thank people again and include more information about how their dollars are being put to work. Be specific about what they’re helping you to accomplish. This final touch can be the start of a special string of communications to donors, particularly those contributing at a higher level. Think strategically about what types of messages they should receive, and how you can even consider creating a gated section of your journal with a teaser of a future enewsletter they’ll receive. Beyond this, see if your digital publishing platform will allow you to create gated publications. Sending an electronic newsletter this way maintains a high level of exclusivity and allows you to steward top donors in a different way.
The Wrap Up
A digital sponsorship journal only serves to add value to the printed version which takes lots of time, money, and resources. The ability to share the publication and update it with recent, relevant content helps to increase its shelf life and also provides an additional service to your sponsors. All nonprofits know that measurement is crucial, so leveraging a technology that allows you to procure valuable insights will help you uncover new ways to print differently and publish differently. After the event concludes and the post-event momentum comes to a lull, pulling out the digital version every now and then lets you remind your audience not just why they attend, but what their attendance and support helps to achieve. The more impactful and relevant we can be with our communications, the better we are at forging lasting relationships with those who care about us most. Remember, printing and digital publishing are channels and not commodities. Use of one doesn’t necessarily negate the practicality or purpose of the other. Find creative ways to make the two work together to support your overall event communication needs
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