Effective Events Donors Will Love!

One day we were talking to the founder of a great organization who was telling us how they needed help making their donor events great. He went on to tell us how every year the organization would ask him to bring groups of his friends to their annual fund raising event, but he was always hesitant to do it. His reason was that he was actually embarrassed by the events because they were so poorly done.

Be sure and grasp what was going on here. You couldn’t find a person who was more “bought in” to what the organization was doing. He was the founder and the whole thing was birthed out of his own vision and passion!

Help Your Best Donors Bring Their Friends to Events — A Nonprofit Resource by DonorFarm

He had invested unknown quantities of his own money to make it happen and had watched over the work for years. But he was embarrassed, not by the work or how it’s done, but by how poorly the donor events were produced.

So he hired us, we created a fabulous event, and the organization started taking giant steps forward with the backing of a whole new crop of generous funders. 

It’s not easy, but…

It’s not easy, but it’s kind of simple. Here are some keys to doing a great, effective donor event that the people who attend will actually love:

First Key

Think about the donors who you want to have there. Wow, so many organizations totally mess up on this one. I hear them say things like, “OUR DONORS don’t like nice dinners, they want us to spend our money on programs, not events.” And so they have events that are failures and that nobody likes going to and they can’t figure out why.

Maybe because they need to come to terms with the truth of this fact: NOBODY likes going to poorly done events at tacky places. If you want to get your wealthiest donors to bring their wealthiest friends then maybe you should think about having it at a place they might actually enjoy being at.

Second Key

Make sure you have a great presentation. And by great, I mean one that doesn’t drag on longer than people want to listen. Here is a rule of thumb, nobody should be talking for more than about ten minutes about the work of the organization.

Oh, I understand that you have a lot more than that to say, but this isn’t your chance to tell all that you know. Just make sure you get across these three things in as few words as possible:

  • What is the problem your organization is there to solve?
  • What is the solution that you provide?
  • How is the donor’s next donation going to make a difference?

Remember that some things can be communicated verbally. Some can be communicated through great, short pieces of video. Some things can be reinforced by brief messages on a screen through a powerpoint presentation that just rolls during dinner. Some things can be stated on a very brief print piece at each place setting. Use all of these things, and others, to get your message across without making your guests wish you would bring it to a close.

Third Key

Remember that you have competition. I know, I know, non-profit organizations aren’t here to compete with one another, they are here to solve problems and help people. Great. The point is that there are a lot of great organizations out there doing a lot of great work and donors have to make some choices. They are only going to attend a certain number of events. They are only going to write a certain number of checks. Be sure and do things right and maybe your organization will be one that they choose.

Team DonorFarm!
Jessica Ching & Marshall Pennell, Founders of DonorFarm

There is so much to producing a great event for your donors, and here at DonorFarm we will keep presenting material that will help you. The main thing is to be ready to make some changes. Reject the idea that is so common among non-profit leaders, the idea that “I do events right and present my message in the best way, there is something wrong with all of those people who just won’t attend or give!”

Do something that donors will love, present your work in a way that makes sense, ask for funding in a way that is compelling and simple, and you’re going to see some good results. And keep coming back to DonorFarm to learn more about growing and nurturing great donor relationships!

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