These days, nonprofit professionals have a lot of questions surrounding their fundraising events. After all, the fundraising landscape is always evolving. But whether you’re hosting a traditional fundraiser, a digital event, or are testing a hybrid model, you will need to follow up with effective post-event messages.
When it comes to events, we often focus on creating a strategy for connecting with attendees beforehand.
However, we sometimes fail to think as thoroughly about how to keep attendees engaged with our follow up.
You can’t stop your outreach just because your attendees are heading home or logging off. Your event will be fresh in their minds for a few days. Take advantage of the opportunity and continue building your relationship with them.
If you want to retain your event attendees as donors, encourage participation in future events, and go above and beyond your fundraising goals, you need to keep your audience engaged with relevant communications.
Consider using the following strategies in your post-event messages.
1. First things first, say “thank you.”
This one should be a no brainer. Hopefully, you at least send a thank you email to follow up with attendees, even if you don’t have an extensive strategy for your post-event messages. But what exactly should go into this email?
You will want to get this email out quickly after the event. So, you may not have your fundraising totals finalized. That’s OK! You can try to wait a day or two. Or just provide your audience with an estimate for now.
Include a message like, “Thank you for attending our gala and helping us raise over $1 million.”
Let your audience know the event was a success. Then get back to them with the official total later.
This initial thank you is a great place to get personal with your audience. Why send everyone the same photo from the event? Use variable content so each recipient receives something special, like a picture of themself at the event.
You should also version your post-event follow up emails to be more relevant. Use different messages for those who attended the event and those who did not. Send non-attendees a short message with some information about the event. Let them know they can still support your organization and help advance your mission moving forward.
2. We hit our goal!
However, you should let your supporters know exactly how much you raised once you’ve calculated the official total. Share the good news if you surpassed your goal. And be sure to thank attendees for helping you exceed expectations.
However, if you came up short, use this opportunity to ask your donor base for a little more support!
Here’s another important tip. Build an integrated approach for your post-event messages. You don’t want to settle for a single follow up email with details about your fundraising totals and attendance.
Post the good news on your social media channels. Send personal, handwritten thank you notes to your largest donors and sponsors. It’s all about finding ways to let your supporters know how their contribution helped you reach your goal.
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3. What did they really think?
What did your attendees really think of the event? You won’t know if you don’t ask!
Sending a brief questionnaire after your fundraiser can help you get a grasp on what people really liked or disliked about your event.
This information is invaluable.
Not only will you gain some insight into what you can do to make your next event even better, but you will also end up learning a lot about your attendees.
Any information you can gather about their preferences can be used in future communications. So be sure to ask questions about your event outreach in addition to questions about the event itself!
4. Relive the experience.
If you have a lot of great photos from your event, consider creating an online gallery and sending a link to attendees. Or if you have video of a speech from the guest of honor, share it online with a #ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) caption.
If you are hosting a digital event, identify materials from the event that can be repurposed in your post-event messages.
Be sure to share any stories you collected from talking to attendees. These can be especially powerful if you recite the details of why someone attended the event, or what moved them to support your organization initially.
You can document these stories in the form of blog posts, share them directly in your organization’s newsletter, or add them to the digital version of your sponsorship journal.
5. Spread the word.
It’s never a bad idea to provide an overall recap of your event. For many organizations this comes in the form of a blog post or a press release.
Providing an overview of your event, the cause you supported, the attendees who were honored, the total amount of dollars raised, and how exactly that money will further your mission, gives you another opportunity to have a conversation with your audience.
However, press releases and blog posts read very differently than one another. Generally, a press release should feel more like a news story. A blog post usually has a more casual and conversational tone. Use whichever better reflects your organization and your mission.
Despite the differences in language and feel, blog posts and press releases bring many of the same benefits to your post-event messages.
For example, you can embed several pictures into the body of the piece and include hyperlinks within the text. Don’t forget to reach out to your attendees and let them know when your event recap is published!
Evolve and adapt.
To have a truly successful fundraising event, you need to communicate with your audience in the right way at the right time. Plan your communications in advance and be sure to segment your audience so they receive pre- and post-event messages that feel relevant to them.
As you know, the fundraising landscape is always evolving.
So, it’s important to think of ways your organization can adapt. So, no matter what kind of event you are hosting, think more holistically about how you follow up with supporters.