For fundraising professionals, events are an inefficient way to raise funds for a nonprofit. This is true. However, well-designed nonprofit fundraising events can drive nonprofit growth by attracting new prospects and donors. Just as for-profit companies use events to generate new prospects, nonprofits can also use a fundraising event as a springboard for the larger fund development strategy.
When created thoughtfully, events attract a healthy, large base of small donors that can move through the fundraising lifecycle for a nonprofit. Events also attract the next generation of donors, the young employees of a corporate sponsor and the staff of elected officials. It’s how we connect.
But, nonprofits MUST capture the data in order to fully leverage the hard work invested in an event.
Event data is an essential tool for growth
Armed with the fundraising event data, a nonprofit development team is equipped to accomplish the following:
Cultivate for retention
Seek larger gifts
Connect families and friends within the donor community
Generate new gifts from attendees who didn’t give through the event
What can you track, record and use in your donor database?
Attendance (especially for guests who don’t make a purchase and aren’t reflected in transactions)
Examples include: (1) Tickets that are sent by a table host (2) Tickets sent by a corporate sponsor
Make a note of the event attended / dates
Who invited the guest to attend?
Transactions (donations, merchandise, table and ticket sales)
All transactions should be tracked to a constituent record or create a new record
Connect transactions to the campaign/event for year of year comparisons
Provide soft credits to table hosts, board members and others whose invitation led to a ticket sale or donation (tracking influence is one of your most powerful tools)
Please note: There is also a tremendous amount of event level data that your event software can leverage to expand marketing, guest engagement and more.
What is the impact of event data?
Landing the Planned Gift: The planned giving officer of a medium-size nonprofit met with a woman to discuss a planned gift. This woman served on the board previously, attended events and gave regularly. Despite all of that, the most compelling fact was that the planned giving officer knew that the donor’s granddaughter recently attended one of their fundraising events. She left the meeting and returned several weeks later with her granddaughter to resume the discussion and make a sizable planned gift commitment. With information, the planned giving officer provided a full picture of the impact her gift would make on the future.
Increasing Annual Giving by 13%: A small nonprofit organization hosted an event designed to reach a younger audience with hyper focus on data and small donations. After some debate, the new donors acquired from the event were included in the winter, annual fund mailing. The annual giving increased 13% from the donors added to the mailing list. Within 5 years, the organization had acquired over 1,000 new donors from the event and today it isn’t a small nonprofit.
What can nonprofits do?
Fortunately, event management solutions are quite simple and affordable. Nonprofits need a way to gather non-transaction attendee information, event donor information and the connections between the people who attend the event (i.e. a table host or corporate sponsor as the source of the ticket). With this data, nonprofit organizations can sync with many donor systems to track and utilize the information.