Great spring fundraising events leaves donors with the warm-fuzzies long after the last person leaves. They’ve connected with your mission and your staff in real life, and they’ve been re-inspired to support your work. What can you do to keep those positive feelings intact for a long time after your event?
Well, we’ve got some ideas.
1. Ask your donors for their feedback
Have you ever wished you could read your donors’ minds and understand what they want in an event? You can! Post-event surveys are a simple tool that gives you unprecedented insight into what your supporters like, dislike, and want to see in your events.
In order to make your survey as productive as possible, it’s important to:
- Send the survey early. Peak warm-fuzzies occur in the 24-48 hour period after your event, so focus on sending your survey within a day or two. Donors will be more likely to give you the feedback you need! Make this easier on your team by having the survey planned and ready to send before the event.
- Write a really great email. When you send a survey, don’t open your email with something like “Please give us your feedback!” Instead, focus on thanking them for their involvement and communicating their impact first. Then you can ask them to fill out a survey. Make sure to include that their feedback will help make future events even more enjoyable.
- Keep it short! Nobody wants to fill out a multi-page survey. I regularly take surveys from businesses, small shops, nonprofits, my city government, and other sources… but I’ll bail on a survey if it’s more than 10 questions or so. Your donors will, too!
- Prolong their good feelings. At the end of your survey, ask your donors to share their favorite highlights from the event. Doing so will let them re-live the best parts, which is a great way to wrap up this particular interaction with them. Plus, donors are more likely to give again in the future if they associate your organization with positive emotions.
Post-event surveys help you improve future events, help donors stay emotionally tied to your mission, and show your supporters you value their opinions. Want to learn more about how to use them? Read donor survey best practices here, then check out this super-handy survey template.
2. Send an update to attendees
How much money did you raise at your event? What will that money accomplish? What’s next?
Yes, people donate to you because they care about your work. But they also want to know that their money will be well-used. That’s why reporting supporters’ impact is one of the most important parts of retaining donors.
After you’ve had a moment to collect yourself (and probably catch up on sleep), put together an email that explains how much your donors gave and how that money will be used. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce your donor survey if you haven’t already sent it! Reiterate that the people who attended are part of positive changes in their community.
Within the next few weeks, send another round of emails showing donors a tangible example of the impact they’ve made. If you used the funds from the event to buy new computers for students, send a picture of a kid using a computer (get permission first, though). Were you able to stock your food pantry because of donors’ gifts? Take a picture of your full shelves and send it out with a thank-you message.
Donors want to know that they make a difference. Show them that they do! If they know you use their money responsibly, they’ll be more likely to donate again in the future.
3. Offer early-bird promos on future events
Keep the momentum you’ve built with your event attendees by inviting them to register early for other events. If you feel so inclined, you can offer a small discount off the registration fee as a special “thank you!” for past support. Alternatively, you could offer other incentives, like a free drink ticket at a dinner, early access to your event, or the chance to meet your speaker or guest of honor.
You can also give past event attendees previews of the event as you plan or set up. This is an especially useful tactic for large fundraisers like peer-to-peer events (you can learn more about how to apply these ideas to retaining peer-to-peer fundraisers right over here and again over here). Share photos of your speakers, event swag, venues, decorations — anything you think would get people excited about your next shindig.
Making event attendees feel special and getting them excited about your next event should result in higher attendance and better fundraising.
Keep your donors engaged between events to increase the likelihood that they attend (and donate to) other events. Maintaining that engagement doesn’t need to take up a ton of time or resources, either! Foster a two-way conversation with your supporters with post-event surveys, updates on progress, and sneak-peeks into future events.
Want to learn more about planning events? Check out this article on how to plan a great event on a budget.