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Donor Appreciation Events: DO’s and DON’Ts

Published: Feb 18, 2019

Donor appreciation events are super fun events to host. You don’t sell tickets or ask for donations. Instead, you simply give your donors a night to remember. These events are held in a comfortable environment to engage in meaningful conversations that will leave your attendees feeling more invested in your mission.

A well-crafted appreciation event can be one of the most powerful forms of marketing of your nonprofit organization. These events not only have the power to cultivate future donors but also build a stronger connection between your organization and your donors.

So, before you dive-in and host the greatest donor appreciation event ever, here are ten tips to keep in mind.

The Do’s That Lead To A Kick-Ass Donor Appreciation Event

Turn Your Event Into A Party

Appreciation events are all about being less formal, talking to donors, getting to know them, and spending a fun evening together. In other words, turn your event into a party!

Promote The Event

Advertising your donor appreciation events early helps you build interest and hype around the event. Be sure to make follow-up calls and send out text reminders to confirmed attendees 2-3 days before your event. And to keep people posted on social media too.

Encourage Board Members To Play An Active Role

Encourage board members to take up the role of officially welcoming donors. Have them go around engaging donors in personal conversations and introducing donors to each other. Keep the conversation casual without alluding to any kind of ask.

Pay Greater Attention To Large Donors

Your recurring and major donors need special attention. Prior to your event, find out who they are, why they have given to your organization and any other information that can be used as a conversation starter. Put down the list and assign it to your staff, volunteers and board members so they don’t forget to talk to them during the event.

Follow-up With All Your Attendees

Within a week of your appreciation event, send a thank you messages to attendees. Promptly and personally thanking attendees is essential to cultivating the relationship you established at the event. Your no-shows should get a message describing the impact of the event to motivate future participation.

The Don’ts That Lead To No-Shows

Most Nonprofits Send Impersonal Invites To All Donors

Donors catch on to the fact that they’re just another name on a list if you blast them with a generic invite. The time spent on segmenting and personalizing your event ask can have a huge impact on donor loyalty and therefore, their willingness to accept your invite. Take the time to tailor your ask.

You Stick To A Single Channel To Deliver Event Invitations

Emails are a great way to provide prospects with every detail around the event. But the average open rate of 20 – 40% means that more than 60% of them don’t see your beautifully crafted invite. Compliment your email campaign with a multichannel approach that uses text messages, phone calls, and social media to ensure that prospects hear about your event.

You’re Not Using The Opportunity To Sell Branded Products

Having a branded product that your attendees can wear or sip out of for the next few months does wonder for your brand awareness. You don’t have to actively hawk merchandise, but having a stall at the venue is a good way to get more traction from your event (plus raise some funds).

You Forget To Convey The Impact Their Gifts Have Made

Most donors (87%) who attended an appreciation event say it positively influenced their decision to give again. This is because of two things: (1) nonprofits tell donors how they intend to use their gifts, and (2) donors get the opportunity to learn, first-hand, what their gifts are achieving. Use your event to drive home the impact of attendee donations.

Do Not Outline Future Involvement Opportunities

In addition to celebrating with donors, outline opportunities for their continued engagement with your organization. Encourage donors to be your organization’s ambassadors in the community. Show them ways to contribute outside of a donation. Your goal must be to leave them more inspired, more committed, and ready to further engage with your organization after the event.

Ultimately, the goal of your donor appreciation events is to get to know your donors on a personal level and drive home the impact of their actions. Keep these tips in mind while organizing your next event.


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