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Event experience | 25 July 2018

3 Effective Strategies for Keeping Donors Engaged at Your Next Event

Dan Quirk

Hosting an event fundraiser or stewardship event? Check out these tried and true tactics for keeping your sponsors engaged. 

Your donors are the backbone of your organization. Keeping them engaged with your events should therefore always be on your mind as you plan your next event.

When sponsors are engaged, they will be more likely be satisfied with the overall event experience. This, in turn, will often inspire them to assume a an active role as donors seeking to do more for your event at present and looking to remain involved in your organization in the future.

This means you must create an event engagement plan that takes into account your contact with sponsors before, during, and after your events take place.

Three key ways to engage your donors at your next event are:

  1. Engage donors on social media
  2. Involve donors in organizing event activities
  3. Encourage donor engagement using souvenirs

Let’s explore how you can implement these ideas into your next event!

1. Engage Donors on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool when it is used to support and complement your events. Use your social media presence both before, during, and after events in order to engage your donors.

Social media can be used before an event to promote your event and to encourage your donors to attend. Some social media marketing strategies include:

Salesforce's Dreamforce 2018 Facebook Event Page

Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2018 Facebook Event Page, Source: Dreamforce

  • Creating a Facebook page for your event. Provide the basic details of the event so donors as well as other potential attendees can report being interested in the event and repost it for their friends to see.
  • Post event sneak peeks on Twitter. Give your Twitter followers an early inside look as to what kinds of activities they will see at the event. For example, post about the musicians who will play at the event or the type of food that will be served.
  • Show off last year’s pictures on Instagram. If you are hosting an annual event, get people excited about it by reminding them how much fun they had last year.

Recommended: How to Promote an Event on Facebook

Because your social media strategy helps build anticipation for your event, it should be a cornerstone of your engagement strategy.

You might be thinking: “Isn’t social media during an event a little contradictory. Why do we want donors to be on social media while they’re attending the event?”

In one word: FOMO.

Event organizers can leverage social media tools to engage donors who are unable to attend an event or create further engagement with those who did attend.

Here’s how:

VaynerWorld Snapchat Filter

VaynerWorld Snapchat Filter, Source: Medium

During your event, you can keep your event/organization social media pages updated with:

  • Live streams – Live streaming your event helps you connect to donors who could not attend the event in person. Creating this virtual connection between sponsors and the event will make them more likely to donate (so remember to include a link to a donation page)!
  • Social media contests – You can recruit new social media followers from your events. Hold contests to get people to follow your organization by, for example, offering a reward to the person who posts the best picture on your event page. 
  • Create a filter for your event – A filter for Snapchat or Facebook profile pictures encourages your supporters to engage with your event both in person and online. It also empowers them to tell their online network about your event.

Once the event is over, make sure to keep engaging your donors on social media. Thank them for coming out, share photos with them and make them feel appreciated..

2. Get Donors Involved with Event Activities

Great events are born from great ideas.

Plan your event so that it includes the creative fundraising ideas you have worked hard to come up with. Then, make sure your guests are getting involved in these activities.

Some creative activities that may keep your donors engaged include:

Networking Bingo at Social Media Marketing World

Networking Bingo at Social Media Marketing World, Source: Social Media Examiner

  • Hosting a raffle at the event – Not only will raffle tickets help you raise money from your donors, but they also encourage donors to stay until the end of the event. They will have to wait until the winners are announced to have a chance to win a cool prize!
  • Holding an auction – If you have really big prizes to give away, an auction may be more effective than a raffle for your event. Donors will be kept attentive  to this friendly competition to ensure they are not outbid by other attendees.
  • Running a Game of Event bingo – Provide a bingo card to your attendees and encourage them to look for the items on the bingo card by scavenging the event venue. Put unique stamps at each event table so donors can mark them off once they reach a bingo landmark.

Including the right activities should be a carefully considered part of your event planning strategy.

For instance, you may choose to have only one activity (an auction) at a gala. But for this activity your attendees are going to require plenty of food and time to bid.

In comparison, craft fairs may include many more activities such as social media contests, raffles, event bingo, art sales, children’s games, and painting classes.

Plan your event so it contains the right number of activities as well as an appropriate amount of time to accomplish them.

Careful planning will help make your event a success, but plans don’t always work out the way you want them too. Remember to include a plan B and even a plan C for your next event. You don’t want your donors to disengage and tune out if your original plan has a couple snags.

3. Encourage Donor Engagement with Souvenirs

Donors want to remember the amazing activities they participated in during an event. Encourage them to take steps to create and pick-up souvenirs like swag, photos, or memorabilia.

Some of the souvenirs a donor may engage with are:

Prizes at South Summit

Prizes at South Summit, Source: South Summit

  • Photos. Set up a photo opportunity at your event such as a photo booth or even set up a silly photography station. The pictures taken here don’t only act as memorabilia for your supporters, but also provide your organization social media content to post.
  • T-shirts. Sell customized t-shirts at your event for your supporters to wear. For example, you may choose to design a 5K race t-shirt with a customized merchandise provider. This sale encourages engagement and provides a donation opportunity.
  • Prizes. You may choose to give away prizes at an auction, raffle, or contest. The anticipation of possibly winning a prize goes a long way to keep supporters engaged. You can even try giving away prizes that promote your event brand.

People like to have material items to remember special events that they have been a part of.

When someone takes swag from your event, it can indicate that they had a great time at the event and want to remember it….or, it might just mean that they are trying to take home a souvenir for their niece.

In either case, giving away swag or selling merchandise is a great opportunity to ask donors to provide contact information for you to include in your donor management software for future use.

Remember: your donors’ souvenirs can also spread the word for your organization.

When a supporter takes a photo at your event, encourage them to post it on social media with an event hashtag. This way, you can ask permission to use it later as you try to market and organize additional events.

Wrapping Up: Creating an Engaging Event

Keeping your donors engaged at your next event doesn’t need to be a challenge. As you start planning your big event, remember these top strategies.

Let’s recap the top 3 ways of keeping your donors engaged at your next big event:

  • Leverage your social media accounts to build up excitement for your next big event. Then, continue using your social media accounts during the event to engage online supporters as well as event attendees with live streams, contests, and filters.
  • Plan plenty of engaging activities to appeal to your donors during your event. Organize your event with plenty of time to complete all the activities you coordinated.
  • Encourage donors to remember the event with souvenirs and photos. Whether these souvenirs are created, won, or purchased, they will act as marketing tools and fundraising opportunities for your organization.

Event engagement is critical in creating satisfying experiences for your donors and maintaining relationships with them overtime. Make it count.

Discover how moment marketing is changing the way that attendees engage with events. Read The Rise of Moment Marketing today!

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