7 Ways to Increase Attendance at Your Fundraising Event

January 29, 2018 - 5 minutes read

After weeks and months of planning, meeting, and preparation you are ready to launch your event!

Even after collaborating with the best subject matter experts, the ultimate success of the event lies in your ability to attract the attention of the right people. Of course, the approach to increase attendance will differ based on your event goals, but every attendance strategy should include three crucial steps — an understanding of who should attend, how to win them over, and a SWOT analysis to determine your best tools to meet that goal.

Your understanding of who should attend your event should rely on supporter data gathered over the years (or as far back as you’ve been collecting data). Identify different sets of donors — the big donors, and small donors, plus your past attendees and volunteers. Favor a targeted communication to these segmented groups of supporters rather than sending out blanket event invites. Tools like CallHub make this segmentation easier through built-in survey sections on the calling and texting tools. This lets you gather supporter data during every interaction with a supporter.

Now you win them over by following the three vital C’s to fundraising success: Compassion, Confidence, and the Cash.

Your fundraising strategy must gain compassion for the cause. The world knows there are troubled children and animals, horrible illnesses, an education gap, and other life challenges. Your message must capture the attention of the audience and make them feel involved with your cause. Your message must gain their confidence in your organization, that you’ll use their contributions to bring about real-world impact. Once you secure the compassion and confidence of donors, your event will be an opportunity for donors to provide cash to support the cause. Your attendance relies on all the three working in cohesion to engage prospective event attendees.

We can break down the ways to create that engagement into seven simple steps.

7 Ways to Increase Attendance – Tools and Techniques


1. Conduct a simple SWOT analysis to form the attendance campaign strategy:

Strengths: What resources do you have?

Resources include volunteers and technology. Tools include social media platforms, email marketing services like MailChimp, and telephony solutions like CallHub that can expand your outreach and maximize your budget.

Weaknesses: How constructive is your communication?

Develop the right message for the right audience. Make sure that the communication is consistent, but it is acceptable to modify the method and content to attract a range of attendees.

Opportunities: Who do you know? (friends, family, community, organizations, connections)

This is information that the nonprofit can use to create an email address and phone number database.

Threats: What can limit the message?

Pay attention to the how, who, what, when, and why of your message. If any of these are ineffective or incorrect your audience will suffer, as will your funding and support.

2. Get Out There! – Press releases, community events, anywhere that you can be seen – make an appearance. Prepare an elevator pitch so volunteers can have a common strong message to capture interest.

3. Build Anticipation – Leverage emotion by creating and building anticipation for the event. Create eye-catching countdowns or contests on social media platforms that drive attention to the main website. Make sure the website includes intriguing information, a call to action, and an opportunity to stay informed by signing up for a mailing list.

4. WIIFM – “What’s in it For Me” still applies. Is the fundraiser “fun”? Can your candidate make the attendees quality of life better? Will the cure help families or the world? Make that a major part of the message.

5. Invitations – Make the invitation personal. Start with past attendees and volunteers, family, friends, and donors to similar events. Mass email tools have long enabled personalization. CallHub tools can personalize your phonebanking calls and peer to peer texts

6. Make It Easy – The website is an extension of your event. It should include user-friendly links, a direct and clear call to action, and complete information about upcoming events.

7. Stay In Touch – Make follow up a core of the strategy. If the answer is not ‘no’…keep seeking the YES.