How to Increase Attendance at Your Next Fundraising Event

Brooke Battle
Written by :

Brooke Battle

Categories: Event Tips

There are a few things in life that are universal - the sophomore slump, middle school is terrible, change is constant, the sun will rise and we all want full attendance at our fundraising events.   While we are glad to return to a post-COVID event schedule, full attendance at events has been more difficult to achieve.   Don't worry! With the right technology,  the funds raised from an event can grow without increasing your attendance. Discover how your event can do double-duty as an event and a campaign.     

You deserve a full room at your fundraising event.


Here are ten ideas to help boost your event attendance:

  • Early Promotion:

-  Promote the event well in advance to build anticipation and give you an opportunity to break through an abundance of news and content.

- Utilize your most effective channels for marketing.  Nonprofits can easily be spread too wide - focus your efforts on channels where you have the most engagement.

  • Use Event Content to Drive Traffic:

- Events have content (honoree bios, artist video, chef recipes) as well as new videos about your cause

- Create and promote the event content directly on your registration website to make sure that the traffic generates giving and/or ticket purchases. This is also a way to drive higher traffic numbers for your sponsorships. 

  • Personal Outreach - Peer to Peer:

-  Reach out to potential attendees personally through phone calls, personalized emails, or handwritten invitations.

-  Leverage the principles of peer-to-peer influence to contact prospective attendees (board member outreach, social media re-shares and more)

-  Create an event committee. Recruit passionate supporters or volunteers to serve as event ambassadors

-  Provide a media kit with example social media posts, links to your nonprofit social channels and invitations to use with their peers.

  • Partnerships:

-  Collaborate with local businesses, influencers, or other organizations to co-host or promote the event.

-  Consider combining your event with another, mission-aligned nonprofit to consolidate expenses and expand the audience. 

  • Social Media Campaigns:

-  Launch a social media campaign with engaging visuals, hashtags, and shareable content.

-  Encourage attendees to share their excitement and involvement.

  • Host an Event Worth Attending:

-  Understand WHY someone should attend your event

-   For networking - emphasize and share who will attend and create space at the event for networking

-  Is it a unique experience?  Use content to explain the experience

Share the experience of last year’s guests through testimonials (place them on social media and tag the attendee)

  • Easy Registration:

-  Simplify the registration process with user-friendly online forms.

 -  Reconsider charging the attendees a software fee or processing.  Is there a ‘donor tip’ option that is difficult to remove?   Each of these creates friction in the registration process. The right online tool can make your life SO MUCH easier.  Here are some signs that you may need to reconsider your ticketing tool. 

-  Ticket communication - when a guest registers, an email and ticket with clear information should be transmitted instantly

  • Follow-Up:

-  Follow up with registered attendees by providing reminder emails, parking information, and their table numbers/table assignments

-  Send reminders as the event date approaches.

  • Survey and Feedback:

-  Collect feedback from past attendees to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments accordingly.

-  Use their input to enhance the event experience.


Every Event is a Campaign

Often, as busy development professionals, the event seems like a single moment in time (a noon luncheon or a 6 p.m. cocktail fundraiser or a 7 a.m. Walk) but the reality is that the entire process is a campaign.  If you approach the event with a campaign mindset, the recommendations above become easier to execute.  If possible, consider outsourcing event planning so that you have more time for building momentum, strengthening donor relationships, and raising more revenue through the event.  

At the end of the day, the entire effort is a fundraising campaign designed to bolster your mission.  Everyone can unite around that!