Fundraisers can be a lot of fun. But a lot of work. Here’s a few tips for marketing your fundraiser or philanthropic event:

Tip #1: Start with Strategy. End with Tactics.

Because many nonprofit professionals wear a number of hats, marketing resorts to a checklist of items that have to get done, such as posting an event on Facebook, sending a press release, mailing invitations, etc.

But jumping to tactics can result in a lot of activity scattered in a million different directions. Before you even talk about what the marketing tactics will be for the event, begin with the overarching strategy:

  • What is the purpose of the event? Who will be attending the event?
  • With this target audience in mind, where should we advertise? What sponsors should connect with us? How much time should we spend on marketing medium X or Y?

Tip #2: Know Your Metrics

There are a number of metrics you should track to gauge progress for your event, not only this year, but for future years. Examples include:

  • Number of events
  • Participant satisfaction
  • Repeat Attendance
  • Website visits
  • Email open rate/click through rate
  • Tickets purchased/redeemed online (% of total)
  • Social media impressions/engagements
  • Total number of participants
  • Number of donors
  • Donors per participant
  • Number of emails sent per participant
  • Number of gifts
  • Amount per gift (mean, median, & average)
  • ROI
  • Growth against national benchmarks

Tip #3: Don’t Forget Your P’s.

Marketing fundamentals still apply – don’t forget the importance of the 4 P’s: Product (your event), Price (tickets/sponsor levels), Promotion (Marketing), and Place (Location). You could also throw a 5th “P” in there with people – your volunteers make all the difference. A great amount of work goes into making sure each of these factors result in a successful event.

Tip #4: Personalize and Customize.

Practice segmentation with your promotions before and after the event. You have access to a number of metrics that make this possible, including email activity, social activity, donor history, age, etc.

Dig deep into your data to segment event communications and utilize audience specific messaging for maximum impact. For example, perhaps you send a text message reminder about the event to your audience under age 30, while the supporters in the 65+ category get a direct mail reminder. Consider how you position the message to someone who has never donated at the event compared to someone who donates $100 or $200 each year at the event.

Your approach may look something like this:

Segment Communication Approach
Attendees – don’t financially contribute at the event. They just attend. Educate and make connections
Beginning fundraisers – they’ve contributed at a small level but haven’t demonstrated intense engagement Encouragement of the difference they can make through their contribution
High performers – regular donors with a strong devotion to the cause Affirmation and thanks
Ultra high performers – large, significant gifts, including those with meaning Highly personal interaction

Tip #5: Be remarkable.

To market effectively, you need to be doing something remarkable. Get out of your comfort zone when you’re coming up with ideas for your event. Don’t try to ideate and evaluate at the same time, or you’ll end up crossing off ideas that may lead to something new and different. Give your brainstorming time to work, then come back to it.

Also take the opportunity to be remarkable when you’re gaining social attention for the event. The days of asking “like us” or “follow us” are over. People want to experience surprise and delight that is worthy of social media promotion. Instead of placing cards on the table that say, “Tweet us,” create something that’s one-of-a-kind and engaging that naturally causes the social savvy attendee to tweet or post it to instagram.

Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments below!