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Your Event Cheat Sheet ... Do This, Not That

As staff and now as SVA we break up all the fundraising we do for our missions into three main areas. It's always helped us "chunk up" our work and keep it manageable. Including those squirrely events. 🐿️

First, one-to-one fundraising, which is also called major giving and often includes campaigns. This work happens one-to-one with donors and fundraisers and it’s relational, focuses on personally meaningful gifts and if you’re doing Values-Based Major Giving it’s about bringing the donors into the complexity of your missions and living out that and other CCF principles.

Second is what we call Base-Building, which is our community-organizing-informed brand of donor acquisition, leaning heavily on principles we’ve learned from community organizing and advocacy to bring people with shared values into our mission orbit, eventually inviting them to give and moving them into our fundraising if they agree. Activities for base building include informational events, direct outreach to supporters and introductions from people already all in for your mission. It’s not list-buying or donor list perusing.

Finally, right in the middle of these two groups, there’s what we call one-to-many fundraising, which is when we ask for money and build relationships with groups of people. Sometimes large groups.  In this category we have activities like mailed and e-mailed appeals, phone or text appeals and of course... events.

Let’s stop on events for a minute since spring for fundraisers often means the birth of a new or renewed event.

You might be wondering how can you do a one-to-many fundraising event that is values-based and still raises big money? How can you center community?

Below is our "Do This, Not That" cheat sheet. And read on or click here for more support for those spring appeals you’re working on, too.

Do this: Invite your one-to-one portfolio donors personally after you’ve talked to them about their gift.


Sounds like: “Dawn, I know the event is coming up and you usually give this time of year. Can we meet to talk about your gift before the event so we can add it to our momentum/leadership/matching pool to inspire new donors?” 


Not that: Invite your one-to-one portfolio donors to make their gift at your event instead of in a direct ask. That’s a recipe for leaving money and information on the table. Ask us how we know... 😢


Do this: Invite your one-to-many donors personally by engaging other staff and board in the outreach. A quick email, voicemail or text is great.


Sounds like: “Wanted to personally make sure you saw our event invitation. It won’t be the same without you! Will you let me know if you’re coming?” 


Not that: Expect your one-to-many donors to become one-to-one donors if you never talk to them personally.  


Do this: After the event, follow up.  Use the event as a reason to call/email/text as many people who attended as possible. If you’re looking for more portfolio donors make sure to note who meets your qualification criteria (sign up for a 15-minute overview of Values-Based Qualification criteria here if this is new for you) and if they respond, move them to your portfolio. 


Sounds like: “Reynaldo, thanks for coming to the festival. Did you learn anything new about our mission or feel new inspiration after being there?” 


Not that: Have a fundraising event without following up.  If you don’t have time to follow up in some way that builds the relationships, you probably don’t have time to have the event. Really! Focus on something you can do that also gives you time to have a two-way exchange with people afterwards.  


Do this: Have a personal conversation with the people who came to your event to bring someone else next time so that you can build your base.


Sounds like: “Sounds like you really liked this concert, Eva. And I know you want to see our reach grow. Will you bring a friend to the next one and introduce them to me so I can say “hi”?” 


Not that: Spend a bunch of time inviting people from other community organizations and then have no way to follow up with them after the event. If you can’t follow up and sustain the relationship with consent, you’re not building your base. You’re doing short-term event marketing and that’s not enough for your mission.  


You can shift your events to bring more ease and joy into your fundraising, de-center donors and bring the community you serve to the center. Keep us posted on your progress!


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