The 8 Key Elements of Capital Campaign Success
October 1, 2014
What Grant Makers Aren’t Telling You
October 15, 2014

Giving Days: Will a Virtual Experience Inspire Event Donors to Give?

Here’s the challenge: while some nonprofit events bring in new donors, inspire major gifts, and create organizational loyalty, most nonprofit events contribute to a cycle of inefficient fundraising that is hard to break.

In most cases, very little net income (if any) is raised at most events when all the costs (including the “opportunity cost” of other kinds of fundraising by those staff members and volunteers) have been taken into account.

And while many new donors come in through events, getting them to renew and move from “event donors” to “organizational donors” is often quite difficult. So many event donors seem to stay on a circular track and only renew their support with a new invitation (not really a renewal!).

But aren’t Giving Days (Colorado Gives Day, #GivingTuesday, etc) just virtual events? Might a Giving Day speak to an event donor in the same way an event does and “convert” them to a donor who gives to more than to the same auction or golf tournament?

What do event donors and Giving Day donors have in common?

  • They like the thrill of something special happening
  • They respond to urgency or a deadline
  • They like the idea of challenges and prizes and competition
  • They get inspired by hearing and seeing others give
  • They respond to a personal ask by someone they know
  • They may know very little about the organization
  • They often don’t renew or respond outside of the Giving Day or event invite

What’s the value in converting an event donor to a Giving Day donor?

More sustainable: Most events have diminishing returns over time. It’s hard to keep the excitement and the pace going! An online program builds a community of donors that is more flexible and more likely to give sustained support after that second gift. (Note: Donors who give a second gift are as much as 60% more likely to give again)

Repeat donations: In many cases, you’d have to have another event to get an event donor to give again in the same fiscal year. But if you can direct event donors’ interest to the Giving Day virtual event and capture that excitement, you may be able to get a second annual gift and a more committed donor in the same year. (Note: Donors who give again within three months of giving their first gift are two to three times more like to continue their support)

More opportunities for upgrades: Event donors generally give the same amount year after year, but with online fundraising, donors can be engaged, upgraded, and retained more easily and effectively.

So, how do you convert an event donor to a Giving Day donor?

  • Segment your event donors with e-mail addresses so that you can speak to them directly about their experience with the organization so far. (These should be most responsive to the strategy).
  • Create an e-mail campaign that brings these event donors into the fold through the lens of the event. “Welcome” them into the organization (if you haven’t already) and update them on the event.  What impact did their event gift make? How can they learn more? Be sure to start at the beginning with these donors; some might not even remember what your organization does.
  • Send a consistent stream of e-mails over a series of weeks to these donors (depending on your internal capacity) and get them used to seeing your organization in their e-mail inbox.
  • Be sure to include some sort of prize, challenge, or element of competition in your campaign.
  • If there are people in your organization’s “family” that have a connection to these donors (host committee, board members, program staff), ask them to write the donor directly in e-mail to ask for their participation in the Giving Day.
  • Use your social media to circle back around and talk about the event. Thank people who gave to the event publicly, and connect the Giving Day to the work that the event supported.
  • Make it fun! From the start of the campaign through the Giving Day itself, keep the event mindset for your Giving Day campaign.

And don’t forget:

  • Thank donors immediately and in as personal a way as you can.
  • Evaluate your progress. Did it work?

If it did, you’ve got a donor who knows your organization through more than the events channel and if you can keep your e-mail going throughout the year (and you should), you have a donor who is more likely to respond without planning that chicken dinner.

What do you think?  If you have tried this or plan to, please write us and let us know the results!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *