Looking for simple ideas of how you can make your next fundraising event an unforgettable night for your donors and make them fall even more in love with your mission? Read on!
For many organizations, their annual fundraiser serves multiple purposes. The top three that are pretty universal are:
At any given event, the emphasis on these main areas might shift, but generally speaking, these areas tend to be where most of the focus remains for many nonprofit fundraising events.
Knowing this, it’s important to consider how you bring your mission into the room to connect with the diverse audience that is likely to attend your event.
If, like most nonprofits, your event is a mix of new, current, and major donors, you’ll want to make sure you have opportunities to showcase your mission in ways that meets your donors where they are.
For example, to introduce new donors to your organization you can have an information table or a series of posters with large and easy to read bullet points and images that highlight what you do, who you work with, and your impact. Even better if you can station volunteers to answer questions and engage guests as they take in your organizational bullet points.
For current donors, it can be helpful to explore how to communicate progress and accomplishments since your last event so that they can understand the difference they are making—which inspires them to keep giving generously for years to come. For example, if last year your school’s fund a need (also known as special appeal) was to build a playground, find a way to show progress on the playground. Imagine walking into the room and seeing photos or videos of kids playing on a new playground you helped to fund!
Most importantly, you want to design an experience for all of your donors that is inspiring, hopeful, and impactful all while not being too overwhelming.
As you can imagine, fundraising events have multiple sources of competition for guests’ attention. So, whatever you do to bring your mission into the room needs to honor the limited attention span of guests at these events.
Let’s explore how to do this...
There are so many ways to bring your mission into the room. Methods I have seen work well to visually demonstrate your mission throughout the event are:
Keep in mind that from the moment guests walk in, to the moment they leave, you want to remind them of why they are there. Nothing is worse than having your guests leave the event and not know what your mission is or what they just gave their money to fund.
One of the most powerful ways to bring your mission into the room
It takes many hands and hearts to pull off a successful event. You’ll need your board, staff, volunteers, and hopefully, even recipients of your services present to help you. Having these ambassadors as sources of support to communicate your mission will be key to making sure every guest gets attention and connection.
Here are some powerful ways you can utilize your team to help you highlight your mission:
It’s all about the live program
The most important way to bring your mission into the room on the night of your event is with your live program. Your program should be short and sweet and avoid long speeches. You want to succinctly convey your recent successes, and also lay the groundwork for your needs, and what you can do with additional support. Guests should be able to walk away from the event knowing who you are, what you do, why it matters, why it matters NOW, and what can be done if they support you.
Make sure you keep your message hopeful, even if your work is challenging or hard. Make sure you communicate that whatever you are working on can be done if we all work together to make it happen. Your guests want to help, that’s why they are there. You have to convey to them that with their support, you can make great things happen.
Anything that proceeds fundraising should be succinct and inspiring. For example, you could open with a brief 2-3 minute video highlighting the work of the organization—which is a great way to showcase your work to new donors while reminding current donors of your impact.
I also like to recommend that before any fundraising ask you to show a video that highlights a story of impact. If you can’t get a professional video made, it’s also fine to have a speaker, accompanied by a PowerPoint slide.
Be sure to make the fundraising inclusive and give everyone an opportunity to participate. Save awards, and keynote speeches until after you have conducted your fundraising - unless it can be brief and contributes to the audience understanding your mission impact at a deeper level.
Want more ideas on how to bring your mission into the room? Reach out and let’s make a plan!
Check out some of the photos below highlighting how other organizations brought their mission into the room!
Michael Faith Benefit Auctioneer and fundraising professional