According to an article published by World Scholarship Vault, event planning is the third most stressful job in the world.
Some professions that come AFTER event planner are: first responder, corporate executive, surgeon, police officer, and paramedic!
As fundraisers, we understand event planning is an important part of our job. It’s true event-based fundraising is usually one the most expensive way to raise money. Some research shows it costs on average $0.50 for every $1.00 raised with an event. And if you’ve ever planned an event, you probably feel like that stat is true.
Still, events can be a great way to raise money and build relationships with key stakeholders. One of the best ways to do this is by setting up good conversations and how you will follow up after the event.
1. Be intentional about the conversations you want to have at the event.
Review the list of attendees and pick a few who you want to spend some time with. Before the event, think of what kind of conversation you’d like to have with them. An event is typically not the place for a deep discussion on international affairs. You can follow up on something from your last conversations or thank them for a recent gift. Maybe update them on something about your organization you know they care about.
This is another reason why tracking interactions is your database is important.
2. Introduce board members to donors
Like point above, this takes some preparation. However, this can be a great way to get some board members engaged in relationship building and help expand the relationship the donor has with the organization.
Identify a couple of board members who are good at connecting with people. Ask if they would be comfortable meeting one or two donors at the event. Following a similar process outlined above, equip the board member with the right information to set up a pleasant conversation. Don’t forget to give them questions to ask, not just talking points.
Be sure to make the introduction at the event and let them visit. If you can, follow up with the board member after the conversation to see if there’s anything you might want to remember for later.
Then after the event, record notes and important information about your interactions in your database!
3. A personal follow up
If you and your board members managed to have good conversations with donors at your event, you’ve also built in a fantastic follow up strategy.
Those who you visited with should receive a personalized follow up after the event. This can be a handwritten note, phone call, or text. Mention something from your conversation. If a board member had a good conversation with someone, give them a script to follow up as well.
“Suzy, it was such a delight to meet you at the gala. You taught me a lot about the endangered Galapagos penguins! Truly fascinating. Thank you for your generosity and supporting our students. You make a huge difference, and please reach out if there’s anything I can do for you as a board member. PS: Hope you have a great trip next week. Looks like the weather in Williamsburg is going to be gorgeous.”
If you’ve already had your event, no problem. You may be able to recall some conversations you had and follow up.
You may also review the list of attendees and personally solicit feedback from the event. Ask donors and sponsors good questions about their experience. This could already get the conversation going about their participation in next year’s event.
Struggling to find the right words or questions to ask? No problem. We can coach you through these conversations.
As always, THANK YOU for reading. Have a great day!
All the best,
Kenny Sigler, CFRE