No matter their size, scope or mission, nearly all non-profits will, at some point, plan and organize the Holy Grail of the charity world: the fundraising event. Whether it’s a gala soiree, casual picnic or just a small cheese and wine meet-and-greet, events such as these build a sense of community around your organization as supporters connect with like-minded individuals in the interest of a common cause. And yet, anyone who has been to even a handful of fundraising events has no doubt experienced a sad reality once or twice: dismal attendance due to a lack of effective promotion.
Too often organizers rely heavily on “word of mouth” to advertise their fundraiser rather than employ a comprehensive, integrated approach. Indeed, in our digital universe there are myriad tools at our disposal, easily deployable and far more effective than simply tacking a flyer to a telephone poll or public corkboard.
Expert event planners all agree that to make the most out of a fundraiser, do the advertising legwork well ahead of time, reinforce the calls for attendance consistently and use a multi-pronged approach to promotion. Here are four ways to realize success at your next event.
Social Media is Your Best Friend
Fundraising gurus have been touting the raw power of social media channels for years, and expect them to keep doing so for a long time to come. Tapping into the basic human need of instant communication is a must if you want to bring out droves of attendees, so hit the big sites—Twitter, Facebook etc.—and then cross-promote by driving traffic to a website, where you can post all the details of said event, make a call for volunteers and encourage supporters to pass along the information.
Make a Splash on Your Site
Whereas social media is great for quick snippets of promotion, don’t ignore the fact that once someone is interested in your event they’re going to want the aforementioned details. So pump up your fundraiser in a big way by featuring it on your homepage (not just an interior page of the site that users must navigate to via an “events” button or pull down menu) with attention-grabbing photos and video of what attendees can expect. Ideally, if this is an annual event, those photos can be taken from the previous year’s gathering.
Traditional Advertising Still Works
As much as we exist in a digital world, tried-and-true methods of advertising are still important, and you should leverage them as much as possible. Direct mailings and printed flyers are still attention-getters, but when you utilize them be sure they can effectively drive people back to your online efforts. So when you do decide to tack a poster in a storefront window, your website and social media buttons should be prominently displayed, allowing viewers to connect to your site or Facebook page on the spot.
Include Something Tempting in your Promotions
People love a little mystery, so plan a big “reveal” for the day of your event and stress it in all your print and online promotions. Use intriguing wording—there will be a “surprise guest” or “special unveiling”—and don’t be afraid to give readers a little hint or clue as to what they can expect. Doing so creates an aura of excitement, and as such your promotional efforts will multiple as people feel a strong incentive to attend your fundraiser.