Communication is Key

Communication is Keyraising awareness for your fundraising events

We recently hosted PR veteran and communications specialist Katie King as she discussed communications around fundraising events, and how raising awareness can help raise funds. Whether you’re the development director, executive director, or volunteer lead, Katie shared several helpful tips on increasing your visibility before, during, and after the event itself.

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The details that go into planning any event are numerous and cumbersome. Tack on the additional frets of a live auction, paddle numbers, table donations and volunteers, and it’s no wonder organizing fundraising events quickly feels like a full-time job of its own.

Whether you’re the executive director, development director, or leading a team of volunteers, you want to be sure people actually show up after all your hard work — especially when looking to grow your audience, guest list and funds, a little extra exposure for your event can mean more attendees and more money raised.

 
SPONSORS & PARTNERS
Sponsorships and strategic partnerships are natural components to most events, and partnering with the right people can really take your event to the next level.

  • Partner with companies that are in line with your culture and mission.
    Everything about your event should speak to your clientele and highlight your connections in the community. Surround guests with other causes, services or products they’ll be passionate about to increase their excitement, likeliness of attending, and spreading the word.

    Note: Even if conversations don’t result in sponsorships this year, there’s a new group that’s aware of your organization and may be able to partner in the future.
     

  • Think beyond monetary contributions.
    Use the conversations to discuss cross-promotional opportunities like social media mentions and giveaways as part of the sponsorship package.
     
  • Secure a media sponsor!
    Media sponsors can be a great way to boost the visibility and ticket sales of your event. These sponsorships can include free ad space, on-air mentions or interviews, and guarantees coverage from a reputable source. Plus, it’s an easy way to control your narrative.

    Note: Having a media sponsor doesn’t exclude others from covering the event. And, you can often find multiple media sponsors (print vs. online vs. radio, etc.) to sign up!

 
BEFORE THE EVENT
With sponsors locked in place and the details of the event finalized, it’s time to spread the word. This is where the fun really starts!

  • Select a spokesperson.
    Someone who is well spoken, likeable, and familiar with your organization and its mission.
     
  • Finalize your messaging.
    What is it you want to convey about your event? Obviously, the details of where and when are needed, but give us more. How did the organization get started? Who has it helped? What do you hope to achieve with this event? Will anyone of note be in attendance? What are you most excited about?

    Tip: Always be sure to include a website or source for additional information.
     

  • Announce the event.
    The scale of the announcement should reflect the scale of the event. Should it be a press conference with partners and city officials? Something more intimate with a small group of loyal donors? An e-blast? A social post? At a conference?
     
  • Invite the press!
    While the media may not immediately come to mind when you’re building your guest list, media relations is one of the fastest ways to increase your visibility. Treat media as VIP guests and be sure they have a save the date or media alert in their hands early on; journalists’ calendars fill up quickly, so be sure they have plenty of advance notice.
     
  • With press involved, you’ll need a press release.
    This is your chance to include all the pertinent and compelling information about your event in one succinct package – who, where, what, when, why, how. We talked in our last blog post about the importance of a compelling story when making a donation ask at the event. When reaching out to press, pair that heartwarming story of how your organization affected a beneficiary with the press release for a robust story nicely packaged for journalists.
     
  • Don’t forget to ask the press for interviews.
    This is where your spokesperson (or consenting beneficiary) has an opportunity to meet face to face with the press to share the organization’s story and get people excited to not only attend the event, but to also donate to the cause.

    Bonus! If a publication covers an event beforehand, they’ll often want to do a follow-up piece discussing the success of the event.
     

  • Add your event to community event calendars.
    These are typically free and usually only require a quick submission form be completed or emailed to someone for posting.
     
  • Consider adding a second event to the mix.
    It may sound a little daunting, but it can be so helpful. Whether it’s an auction on a smaller scale, a supper club or a contest, hosting a smaller event leading up to The One is an excellent opportunity for extra exposure, extra conversations with press, extra ticket sales and extra donations.
     
  • It may go without saying, but … SOCIAL. SOCIAL. SOCIAL.
    Whether your preferred platform is Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Snapchat, post, post, post! Post about the event details. Post about sponsors and partners who will be there (don’t forget to tag!). Post about prize packages and giveaways to get people excited. Post about past years and funds raised and memorable moments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help reaching your fundraising goals.

 
DURING THE EVENT
No matter your title, you’re certain to be busy making sure everything is running smoothly and wearing a million hats while at your big fundraising event, but with some foresight and a reliable group of staff and volunteers, your communications efforts during the event should be a breeze!

  • Live social updates.
    A familiar way to share your event with the public and those not in attendance. Capture highlights like the live auction, notable guests, the executive team, or the venue, and be sure to share updates like funds raised in real time.

    Tip: Designate a single person whose only role is to manage the social media during the event.
     

  • Remember those VIP media guests you invited early on?
    Make sure to say hello. Seek them out, say hello, and make sure they have all the info they need. Most importantly, introduce them to any key staff, donors or beneficiaries. Bring that story you shared with them to life!

    Tip: Gather headshots of attending press in advance so you know who to look for.

 
AFTER THE EVENT
It’ll be tempting to put your event in the rearview mirror once it’s over, but don’t stop there. As with most things, the follow through is just as important as the prep work.

  • Hire a professional photographer.
    The more quickly you can follow up with press with photos and stats from the event, the better. Have a list of photos you know you’ll want captured at the event, so there aren’t any surprises or disappointments. Many journalists in attendance will bring their own photographers, but for those who don’t or can’t attend, this is the quickest way to fill them in.

    Tip: Note the names of any guests in photos to be included in press captions.
     

  • Know the numbers.
    Of course, you’ll want to go beyond the glitz and glam photographs of the event and also share the important stats of the event: how much money you raised, how that’s improved year over year, what it’s going towards (any specific, compelling story to share here?), and any future plans (including dates for next year if you have them!).

Communicating with donors, event guests and vendors may be a given (and we certainly won’t undersell the importance of that), but broadening your communications to include new sponsors and partners, and of course, media can take your event to new heights. Journalists are always looking for good stories to share with their readers; let them be your megaphone and help spread the word on your behalf.

 
NONPROFIT EVENT COMMUNICATIONS CHECKLIST

  • Secure sponsors/partners
    • Secure more than money (cross promos, giveaways, etc.)
    • Secure media sponsor
  • Select spokesperson
  • Finalize messaging
  • Announce event
    • Invite press
    • Develop and distribute press release
    • Coordinate interviews
    • Add event to community calendars
  • Add a second, smaller fundraising opportunity in advance of the main event (optional)
  • Promote on social
  • Hire a photographer
  • Gather headshots of attending press
  • Designate social media person for live updates during event
  • Live social updates during event
  • Media introductions/interviews at event
  • Follow up with press using photos and stats
  • Secure returning sponsors

 
At myRollCall, we live to assist nonprofits in hosting successful fundraising events. If you’d like to discuss your 2018 events and financial goals, please don’t hesitate to reach out to info@myrollcall.com