By Josh Gold
So, you did it. You put together the perfect evening, ramped up excitement amongst your supporters, and translated that into a hugely successful fundraising drive. But you’re not quite done yet.
In the days following your event, there’s a bit of a honeymoon period. People are still caught up in the aftermath, still feeling especially well-disposed towards your organization. It’s a delicate line to walk, after the outpouring of generosity you’ve already seen, but if you handle it right, you can continue to increase your donation total even once the night is over.
1. Keep it light
Keep up contact with your guests in a friendly, low-pressure way that focuses on the wonderful encounter you shared… and just so happens to leave the door open to further generosity while the mood is likely to strike.
What does this mean in practice? Immediately after the event is over, send a link to the video presentation out to your entire guest list with the heading: In case you want to see it again… This is helpful and a little sentimental, suggesting that the presentation was so well-received the first time, surely the viewer is eager to relive the experience.
Just as in the case of the invitation, don’t send your guests straight to YouTube. Embed the video on your landing page, with the call to action and donate button still discreetly in place. We recommend something simple, such as: You’ve committed $X. Would you like to increase your gift? Since the purpose of your email is to share the video, not to solicit funds, this won’t come across as pushy – but it may inspire some last-minute philanthropy.
A day or two later, follow this up with a thank-you video that is embedded in just the same way. This is an expression of gratitude, not a sales pitch. The tone is thrilled and thankful for everyone who participated. But with that button right there, you never know who might increase their gift one last time.
2. If they didn’t attend, reach out again
Not everyone is able to make it to your event, even if they want to. But while those who weren’t there may not be on quite the same high, there’s no reason not to follow up with them and see what happens.
Immediately after the event is over, send a link to the video presentation with the heading: We’re sorry you couldn’t make it. Include a summary of the event. This encourages viewers to consider what they missed and suggests that they can still make themselves a part of the experience.
This viewer hasn’t yet been overwhelmed by fundraising talk, so the call to action can be slightly more direct: It’s not too late to support our goal.
For those who choose to donate, follow up with your thank-you email and discreet donate button a day or two later.
3. The personal thanks
While you value all your supporters, some individuals do tend to step up and stand out. These major donors have a special relationship with your organization that calls for more than a form email.
Have your board members email or call your major event donors personally and thank them for their attendance. Let them know how much they’re appreciated. This may not see immediate results, but going forward, it will be important that these people understand how essential they are to your success.
Wrapping Things Up
Whew! We’ve covered a lot of ground here since part one. I’d like to end things off by reassuring you that you don’t need to tackle everything at once. Now that you understand how much room there is to grow, you’ll be able to develop a marketing strategy for your particular circumstances.
In fact, we recommend that you don’t overdo it. If you put all your resources into an annual dinner, that one event will be the only time you engage with your supporters all year. That means you’re going to spend the other 364 days losing momentum. By the time you’re ready to send out dinner invites again, you’ll have to generate interest pretty much from scratch.
Why not send out updates about your activities on the ground and how your supporters helped you achieve them? For the best outcome, make them video updates, since video gets results. Let people know about other opportunities to support your org. Send them quarterly updates, donor spotlights, anything that will keep you at the forefront of their minds.
When the next fundraiser rolls around, you’ll already have a strong support base in your corner.