With the weather warming up, fundraising events season is getting into full swing. And this year, at long last, our events are back to in person — mostly. Although many events will continue to have a hybrid component for some time to come, there’s no better opportunity to engage with your constituents than when you can provide them that hands-on experience with your mission.
In returning to in-person events this year, you’ll be able to remind your constituents of why they continue to come back year after year to your event, beyond supporting your mission. And more important, you can use your in-person events this year to set your organization up for an even more successful season in 2023.
Here are three keys to returning successfully to in-person events:
- Execute an amazing day of event, like you always have — with a few improvements.
- Know, value and appreciate your participants and prove it to them.
- Remind them of how easy it is to fundraise for you.
Prepare for Day-of Event Execution
You have loved, valued and trusted participants who come back year after year, not just for the mission but for the great experience you provide them on event day that makes them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Don’t forget what made your in-person event unique and special for your audience. Execute that exceptionally and then surprise and delight them in new ways:
- Create a strategy for engaging participants who are still not in person by choice or circumstance. What will you do to make them feel included and part of the overall experience?
- How are you streamlining check-in, packet pickup and T-shirt delivery to accommodate everyone this year?
- Do you have touchless check-in options with QR codes or GPS fencing functionality to minimize pileups of people?
The Personal Touch
Of course, executing in-person events to a tee will be key. But bringing participants back into the fold starts well before that, and your technology can help build enthusiasm and anticipation for that day.
Follow all the best practices of showing your constituents that you know, value and appreciate them. Speak to them in a personalized way to drive excitement toward the day of the event and encourage fundraising along the way.
An easy way to do this is to recognize and acknowledge your participants with badges. If there is a known correlation between fundraising success and details about a participant, celebrate it. Key groups to consider include:
- Returning team captains
- Returning top fundraisers
- Longtime participants (recognize how long they’ve been participating in your event in a meaningful way)
It’s All About the Fundraising
Most event participants are not professional fundraisers, so it is important to give them an easy-to-follow guide on how to successfully fundraise for your organization’s in-person event. Beyond FAQs and tips and tricks, you can provide them with a guided session of what to do next based on what fundraising actions they’ve already taken. Some of these key activities include:
- Updating their personal page
- Making a donation to kick-start their fundraising campaign
- Starting a Facebook fundraiser
- Downloading your organization’s mobile app to fundraise on the go
That last item is particularly important. As we’ve seen with the virtual and hybrid events of the past couple of years, having a mobile app option to supplement the desktop fundraising experience has become crucial to fundraising efforts. Mobile is simply where many of your fundraisers are. A recent eMarketing report showed that 88% of browsing time on mobile devices is spent within an app.
- 21% of millennials say they open their apps more than 50 times per day (The Manifest)
- Gen Z spends 71% of their digital media time using smartphone apps (ComScore)
So, in addition to providing a mobile app for your participants, think about how you can coach them to get the most out of the app to make their fundraising efforts easy and fun. Think about other mobile tools you can provide, such as mobile check capture. It’s a win-win for your organization and the participant — faster money in the bank, instant gratification on the thermometer for the fundraiser.
With spring in-person events under way, your communications and campaign strategy may already be baked in. You may be looking for that perfect idea for fall fundraising success. Regardless, it’s never too late for hands-on cultivation of your key audiences with the right personalized messaging, set of tools and genuine appreciation for the amazing efforts your supporters continue to produce for your organization and to further your mission.
Best of success to all as fundraising continues, in spite of the world around us.