The elusive event donor—she comes to your event, makes a generous gift, and is never seen or heard from again. What happened, you wonder, did she fall off the face of the donor wall? Not quite, fabulous fundraiser. Like most charities, you probably passed on the opportunity to keep her in the post-event giving loop. Her and the hundreds of other event donors you lost in the fundraising wild.
Want to do a better job of keeping your event donors from disappearing—and possibly persuading them to join your annual giving club? Here is a six-step strategy to try after your next fundraising event:
- Less than a day or two post-event, give her a call. Leave a delightful (read: not boring) and memorable message. “Hi, awesome donor, I fought off all my other co-workers who wanted to give you a call so I could be the first to express our oodles of gratitude for your gift. You being there was gift enough, but your donation? That’s what I call icing on the generosity cake…”
- Within two weeks, send her a formal but fun thank you letter. And here’s the secret sauce—reference that phone call! “I was bummed I didn’t get a chance to speak with you on the phone, but I hope you received my message. And here’s a fun fact, I was totally doing the happy dance when I was leaving it!”
- No more than three months later, send her another personalized communication. This time, let her know how her gift was put to work. Treat her like your favorite pen pal. Tell her what’s happening with your cause and why you’d love to hear from her again. This is also a great time to ask her for another gift.
- When your save the date is ready for the annual event she attended, send it along. Again, here’s the secret sauce—add a personal note. “Hi, awesome donor, I imagine your calendar books up fast, so I wanted you to be one of the first to receive a save the date…”
- Two weeks before you mail the event invitation, give her another ring. Do two things during that phone call. Share the impact of her gift. How did her gift change a life? Second, let her know her personal invitation should be arriving in her mailbox soon, and if there is anything you can do to make her event experience any more awesome, then encourage her to give you a call.
- Last but not least, follow-up with a personalized email a couple of weeks after you’ve mailed her invitation. “Almost a year ago, you made a generous gift that changed the way we were able to help people. (If she’s coming, add:) I’m excited to see you at the event. I’ll make sure and say hi! (Or, if you haven’t heard from her:) I hope I’ll see you at the event. It’s so exciting when we having amazing donors, like you, in the room.” And if she’s not coming? Let her know it won’t be the same without her, and that if she still wants to support the event, she can always make a gift online. Just remember to include the link.
Believe me, I realize this is a strategy that may be tough on fundraising shops with limited staff. And if that’s the case, I encourage you to test this on a small handful of new event donors or to a group of event donors who made significant first-time gifts.
But don’t do nothing at all. Ignoring them is why a good number of event donors never come back. Keep them happy, and they’ll stay plugged in. (And, if you’re really lucky, they might even bring a few friends to your next fundraising event.)