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How to Get Donors for Fundraising Events: A Guide

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From peer-to-peer websites to fun runs and charity galas, it seems that everyone is raising money for something. In other words, it isn’t always going to be easy to get people to open up their wallets for you. In order to increase donations for your fundraising event, you need to think beyond the event itself. There will be plenty of opportunities to raise money during the event but you can’t neglect the opportunities that arise both before and after. The best fundraising ideas in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t maximize donation opportunities. Here’s how to increase donations for your fundraising event and see your efforts rewarded:

Create Identifiable Branding

Building a brand for your event and/or organization is essential to creating an engaging experience. Your brand will tell potential donors or event guests exactly what they can expect from you. It will deliver a message about your fundraising goals and connect them to you before they even thinking about donating. As soon as inspiration strikes and you come up with a fundraising event idea, you should begin the branding process.

Why should people give you their hard earned money?
what separates you from every other nonprofit
What makes your nonprofit special?

Answering these questions will help you define your brand and connect you to your target audience of donors. Your donation form, event website, calls to action,and any promotional materials should communicate a consistent brand. Branding engages people and helps them feel connected and invested in your fundraising efforts. Engaged donors are more likely to contribute greater sums of money to your fundraising campaigns.For some ideas on how to brand your event, check out our branding guide here.

Tell A Story

How often has this happened to you: you’re scrolling your social media feed when you notice friends or family have shared an impassioned plea for support. You click the link and read through a heartbreaking, touching, or gut-wrenching story that moves you to donate yourself. This is one of the strengths of peer-to-peer fundraising -- storytelling. Whether you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign or something more traditional like a raffle, telling a cohesive story can help increase donations. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and court tragedy or make up a dramatic tale, but it does mean being honest. Clearly explain to people why you are raising funds. What makes your charity different than all the others? There are millions of causes out there. Give people a reason to connect to yours. Tie this step in with your branding efforts by walking potential donors through your story on your event website. The result will be a consistent and cohesive thread that runs through your entire campaign, energizing your donor base.

Build an Online Presence

No matter what type of fundraiser you are planning, creating a positive online presence is essential. Life isn’t necessarily easier in this century but it certainly is more convenient. So many things can be done online without ever having to leave the comfort of your own living room. Who doesn’t love grocery delivery on a rainy day? Meeting your fundraising goal can be just as easy with a solid web presence. One of the most beneficial things you can do is to create a website and develop social media pages. By using a ticketing app like Accelevents, you can build on your event brand and your fundraising story by designing a custom branded website that integrates with all your social media channels. You can also use fundraising tools to add features to the ticket purchase options that will increase donor participation (more on that later!).In building an online presence, you not only increase the opportunities available to donors, but you can grow your donor pool and generate buzz and excitement around your fundraiser.Think about it, the fundraisers that raise the most are the ones that people can’t stop talking about. Be that fundraiser!

iPhone Social Media Apps

Donor Appreciation

While charity definitely comes from the heart, donors still want to be acknowledged. No one wants to feel like they are being used for their money. People are more likely to donate to your cause if they feel valued and appreciated.Whether people are bidding in your silent auction or buying treats at your bake sale, make sure that you show your gratitude. And there are lots of ways that you or your organization , can go about showing this appreciation. Thank you notes or phone calls after the fundraising period has closed are a given but you can go a step beyond by adding donor appreciation to your fundraising strategy. This means working it into your marketing. Let potential donors know that if they donate a particular amount, they will get something in return. This can be an experience related to your charity or recognition at an event or banquet. Perhaps top donors are treated to an appreciation dinner in a fancy location or receive a special gift once they pass a certain threshold. Posting the names of donors in a visible space or online (that website and social media accounts are coming in handy!) can also work as a budget friendly incentive. Another great way to show appreciation and raise more money is to make a game of it. People love competition, so let that spirit take over and drive up your donations! Create a leaderboard, online and one for any fundraising events you are hosting, that displays donor names and amounts. Have a grand prize for the highest donor and watch people try to best each other.

Create a Membership

Creating a membership program is a way you can encourage higher donations AND show donor appreciation. Membership could be something informal like running a t-shirt fundraiser as part of your event. Sell event t-shirts that speak to the cause. Put your branded logo and tagline on there along with the year. People who purchase a shirt will be proud to be a part of the ‘club’ and announce their participation. And, if you have created enough buzz around your fundraiser, people will be itching to get their hands on a shirt. More traditional membership models are a great way to generate recurring donations. You can establish different tiers of membership. For the base level, the donor may receive a monthly update of the efforts being put forth with the donations received. Major donors at the highest level of membership may receive special access to the facility or organization you’re fundraising for a spot on the board perhaps, their name on your website and/or any newsletters or updates. Including a list of top donors on your site is a great way to engage local businesses and corporations. It is good advertising for them and creates an ongoing relationship between you and your donors.Like donor appreciation, membership is a great way to keep donors engaged well after the donation period has expired. It helps the donors to feel a part of the project while providing you with a list of qualified donors who may be interested in contributing to your nonprofit again in the future.

Enable Easy Sponsorship

One great fundraising option to include in your event is sponsorship. Whether you already have a list of local businesses or organizations you wish you approach or starting from scratch, adding event sponsorship doesn’t have to be complicated. From a charitable golf tournament to other unique fundraising events, offering sponsorship packages can be added to your sales process.Once you have decided on the sponsorship tiers and what each package will include, you can then begin to sell them! Sponsorship appeals to people because it gives them direct exposure and visibility in exchange for their donations. From sponsored tables to auction items to matching gifts, the opportunities are only limited by your imagination.

Baseball Scoreboard with Sponsors

Establish an Extended Donation Period

Increasing opportunities to give is important, especially if your efforts are centered around a specific fundraising event. By allowing participants to donate before, during, and after the event, it is likely that you will raise funds exceeding your expectations. Not everyone is interested in attending a charity event, but they may still be interested in supporting your cause. Make it clear that donations can take place outside of the event itself and then make it easy to do. Using online fundraising methods like a crowdfunding website or leveraging a tool like Accelevents is a great way to do this. With these methods, donors no longer need to be present at your event and can contribute when and how it is most convenient to them. Remember, the easier you make it to donate, the more likely you are to raise more money during the course of your campaign.

Use Mobile and Online Options

Using a text to give option or accepting online or mobile bids at your silent auction makes donating effortless for your donors. Donors can give to your campaign from anywhere without having to do much more than picking up the phone. This type of mobile fundraising meets donors where they live -- on their phone. Most people will ignore phone calls but text messages give people the freedom of responding when they feel like doing so. Text to give means people do not have to look you up online or attend your event. They can give whatever they want, whenever they want.It sounds like a simple solution but it can make a big difference in the amount of money you are able to raise. Text to give or mobile/online bidding does not force people to participate, it does not make them feel pestered into donating. It gives them the power to make the decision and give when they feel inspired to do so. This empowers donors and makes them feel good about their decision. More often than not people will text to give more than they would if you engaged them in another format. Text can be used for a charity auction or raffle as well. Instead of being present at the event, individuals will have the opportunity to place bids remotely, again, increasing engagement and donation amounts.If nothing else, mobile fundraising will increase the number of donors you can reach and the number of unique donations received.

Man Using Smart Phone

Add Donation Option to Ticket Purchase

Once you have your event idea in place, set the date, and chosen the venue, you can start selling tickets. Whether you represent charitable organizations or are working towards a more personal fundraising goal, adding a donate option to your ticket sales is a simple but smart practice. Like text to give or mobile bidding, adding a donation option to a ticket purchase is sure to raise more donations than going without. This option works similarly to the impulse purchases located near the cash register at the grocery store. When you are already going through the process of purchasing something, it is easy to just add one more thing to the cart. Again, by using a platform like Accelevents, you can easily add a donation option to your ticket sales enabling participants to start giving to your campaign right away! All too often, fundraising teams focus all of their efforts soliciting donations at the fundraising event itself and the reasons for doing so are obvious. But to increase donations for any fundraising event, the focus needs to be expanded. Think outside the event! By taking the steps above and engaging donors before, during, AND after the specific event you are sure to raise more money.Do not limit yourself to one bite of the apple. While some donors will be tapped after one donation, most will give again should the opportunity present itself. Take advantage of this instinct! If you make it easy to give, you will not only see total donations increase, you are likely to see individual donor amount increase as well!

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