Q. What marketing strategies do you recommend to ensure a successful fundraiser event?
A. Provided by Jolee Molitor, J2M
Raising funds for a good cause can be a rewarding undertaking, but the goal of a fundraiser is often about more than just raising money. Additional fundraising goals include:
• Creating awareness of the organization and what it does
• Recruiting volunteers
• Cultivating life-long advocates and supporters for the organization
Because so much rests on the success of the event, effectively promoting it at the start of your event planning is critical to the events benefit. That’s why when marketing your fundraising event, you should always perform four main marketing tasks:
Whether you’re planning a one-time event or introducing an annual event, it’s important to develop a brand. The brand elevates the event, taking it, for example, from just a wine tasting to “The Platinum Ball.” The brand gives the event credibility, differentiates it from other similar events and provides ongoing recognition that this event is associated with a particular organization. (“Brand” should not be confused with “theme” which can change annually, i.e. Hawaiian, Safari, etc.).
The benefits of sponsorship range from financial assistance to an implied endorsement of your organization from the sponsor. Financially speaking, if you can cover your hard costs through sponsors (such as printing, decorations and food, both in-kind and actual dollars) then more of the money raised can go directly to the organization.
Make sure to create clearly defined sponsorship packages so sponsors know exactly what they’re receiving in return for their donation. Benefits to consider offering in your package include:
• Sponsor logo placement (at the event, in the printed materials, on the organization web site)
• Guest passes for attendees
• Special reserved seating or tables at the event
• Recognition after the event
Consistent top-line messaging is important for continuity in communications. The organization’s overarching goals and benefits should already be established. Hence, the key to developing messaging to use in marketing the event is to:
• Craft a mission statement specifically for the event to use in marketing materials. This can include financial goals, event benefactors or a distribution summary of funds raised at the event. Define the event benefits from both the attendee and organization perspective.
• Develop messaging specific to your key audiences. Are there different messages to corporations versus individuals? Some of the message will be very standard – the “where” and “when”-- but it’s important to put significant thought into the “why.”
The budget and sponsorships will drive the various tactics used in marketing your event. Deploy a mix of traditional and emerging channels and make sure to build in a tracking mechanism so you can identify how the attendee or sponsor found you. This will help you in marketing the event next year. Some examples include:
• Social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs. (Have a standard consistent message, then enable your supporters and committee members to work their social magic through their networks.)
• PR – press releases, community calendars, articles in the paper or TV news stories
• Print – trade outs for ad space. (Partnering with your sponsors in ads or asking them to donate their ad buys to promote your event.)
• Email – permission-based email blasts.
• Direct mail – piggy back on other efforts (newsletters, inserts) or develop a stand-alone piece (invitations).