You worked so hard on that event last year! You built great excitement and enthusiasm for your cause. You had a ton of new donors give for the first time. But now, over a year later, most of those donors have stopped giving. What happened?
Did you thank your donors promptly after the event?
I am shocked how often I go to an event for an organization that is new to me, am inspired enough during the event to make a gift, then don’t hear ANYTHING–nor receive a thank you–for months.
Contrast this with one of my favorite organizations: I make a gift–not a huge one–at their event, and every year I get a warm and genuine thank-you call from the executive director HERSELF within one or two days! She blocks out all of her time for a couple of days following the event just to call and thank donors—even little ol’ me.
One of the most CRITICAL parts of your event planning is your FOLLOW-UP plan. People’s warm feeling and enthusiasm for your cause can disappear if they are not thanked promptly. Here are some key steps to ensure all the effort you put into your event will pay off in the long run—so you can deepen your relationships with all of your new-found friends (as well as your long-time ones!).
- Plan to do NOTHING in the days following the event but enter and reconcile gifts. All the stuff that came back from the event site can sit in a cluttered mess for a while. Sit at your computer and get those thank yous and receipts out within three days!
- BEFORE the event, find three to five volunteers who are willing to help with thank you calls right after the event. Ask your executive director, your board chair, your event chair and the chair of your development committee to block out one hour on the day after the event to help make thank-you calls. The day after the event, send each volunteer a list of five to ten of your top donors, along with a short script, and have them make quick calls to thank people. It’s OK for them to leave a message of thanks if they don’t get the person on the phone.
- BEFORE the event, design a thank-you email blast letting everyone know how successful your event was. The morning after the event, just drop in the total amount raised and a couple of photos from the event, and send it out immediately to ALL attendees.
- During the six weeks after the event, set up thank-you visits with each of your sponsors. Bring them a wrap-up report showing the ways you highlighted their logo before, during and after the event in the invitation, program, etc. Give them some statistics about the success of the event—success THEY helped create. During the event have your photographer be sure to get a group photo of each of your sponsor tables, and include that photo in the packet. Do NOT plan to ask sponsors for a gift for the following year at this meeting. You are there just to thank them and let them know about the impact they made!
Following these simple steps will help nurture relationships with new donors, and further solidify relationships with donors who have given consistently over time. It’s not hard to do, and with a few key volunteers to help, it doesn’t take much time, either. Your attention to the important task of follow-up alone will distinguish your organization from many others. It will also ensure the greatest benefit to the organization for the resources that were put into the event in the first place.