Updated: Aug 31
I used this blog a little over a year ago to declare that galas are dying. Judging by my response, some fundraisers were not ready to confront that uncomfortable truth.
One year later, I stand by that argument.
Galas, while still necessary for many organizations. That said, we must think differently to maintain our success and optimize our connections with attendees.
Events aren’t going away; they’re changing, and we have to keep our organizations at the forefront of that change.
So, when planning your Galas, keep a few things in mind.
Special Events Worth Doing Must Not Exist In A Vacuum.
Think of every single attendee as a potential major donor and lifelong evangelist. It’s what you do after the event that counts when it comes to donor retention.
There’s a way to avoid the one-and-done syndrome and escape post-event letdown.
Think of your event as a giant donor cultivation tactic, where your goal is to make an emotional connection with your guests so you can fan the flames of their passion for your mission and make a larger ask at some point down the line.
Make sure your entire team, including your Board and any volunteers working the event, are aware of who is attending. Put together a spreadsheet that contains a few high-level details and a photo. Excel is a great tool for this, as you can sort by tables and make the information easily accessible.
Once the awards are given and the party has come to an end, it is time to retain these new friends seriously and authentically.
Behold — The art and science of THANK YOU!
GuideStar reports that new donors who receive a thank you within
48 hours are 4 times more likely to give to your organization again.
Speed is Key - Even if it is a simple thank you from your Leadership! That does not exclude more personal future follow-up; rather, it maximizes that first touch.
Be authentic - Mention an interaction or a specific moment that was special to you.
After saying thank you, be sure to keep the conversation going!
Drip storytelling through your e-news, blog, or dedicated emails that informs and inspires them over time about your mission and accomplishments. USE IMAGERY!
A handwritten note on their next newsletter
Information about their business that you have come across
A personal note on their annual appeal thanking them for their event attendance and asking if they’ll now consider supporting your annual campaign.
Photos are a great way to share your successes - add a simple note that describes the photo.
The key is to stay in touch with information, inspiration, updates, and more. And, remember, every email does not need to include an ask.
Whatever you do, be creative, and don’t be afraid to take risks with your events. If you need help navigating those risks and optimizing your events, our team of nonprofit fundraising consultants is here to help!
We help grow your fundraising through Training, Tactics, and Tools.