Set Yourself Up for Future Fundraising Success!
Whew! You made it. The benefit event you’ve been planning all year long is now over and you finally get to relax. Right? Not so fast! Planning next year’s event begins the day after this year’s event is over. Why? Because what happens soon after this event sets the stage for your future success. Here are the four most critical steps to take post-event to prepare for the next.
Strike While the Iron is Hot
One day (or two) after the event is the perfect time to call your donors and thank them, since they’ll still be glowing from the event and inspired about your work. Donors love receiving these calls and feeling appreciated! It also gives you a chance to solicit their INVALUABLE feedback. What did they love? What did they hate? It’s a gold mine of information! Bonus: these calls can lead to sponsorships, new event committee members – even future auction item leads. Ask board members to make these calls – we’ve seen incredible *research showing that donors who received a thank you call from a board member within 24 hours gave 39% more the next time they were solicited, as opposed to donors who did not receive a call. Fourteen months later, that same group of call recipients gave 42% more.
Within One Week
Thank your volunteers. Ask staff to call your volunteers and thank them for all their loyal support. Remind them they are IMPERATIVE to the success of the event – you couldn’t pull it off without them! And as with donors, it’s the perfect time to solicit their feedback about what could be improved. Follow up with an email and ask them to describe their duties – then you’ll have a volunteer training manual for next year!
Within Two Weeks
Once totals are tallied and accounts settled, send a thank you card to everyone who attended the event. Include photos, results, highlights and of course, gratitude for their support.
Call your sponsors and thank them. Let them know how it went if they couldn’t make it. Send pictures. Encourage everyone to post these photos on social media and provide them with relevant #hashtags and names to tag in their posts linking back to you.
If you offered a live auction, call and thank live auction item donors. Let them know how much their items went for and who the lucky winner was. Share any fun stories with them – for example, was there a bidding war over an item they donated? Was it the highest-grossing one of the night? Everyone loves concrete proof that their donation made a difference.
Within Three Weeks
You’ve had a little time to digest. Now it’s time to debrief with committee members, staff, board members and key volunteers. Get their feedback on what went splendidly and what needs a little love next year. Send a survey to all your attendees and find out what they enjoyed and what they might like to bid on in the future. Bring this info, along with your results, to a wrap-up with your professional benefit support staff. Include your auctioneer, tech audiovisual, catering and registration support teams.
Send a recap email to your supporters and post a “save the date” for next year’s event on social media. Highlight photos of how fun it was and encourage people to get involved with the event committees for next year.
How Can We Help?
Now get out there and begin crafting next year’s event armed with great feedback and historical data of what works for your group. For more follow up ideas and preparing for your next big event, reach out. We can’t wait to help you maximize success and WOW your donors!
*Research conducted by Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising