Break out the antacid; we’re on the cusp of the year-end special events season – black tie, big dinners, heavy hor d’oeuvres, set and live auctions – the works! And they cost a fortune, don’t they! For every dollar raised, it costs fifty cents to put on the big do – but we do them for the PR exposure, the excited volunteers, and even the money they bring in.

Here are some new thoughts (some old wine in new bottles in a few cases):

  1. Cash Lines – Old fashioned, but they work! Ask your speaker or special honoree if they wouldn’t mind greeting people whom you have invited to present a check to them for a photo op. Put the cash line near where people pick up their place setting number and have the photog take a shot of the happy donor and the special big shot. And remember to ask for the email address so the photo can be sent out within the week.
  2. Volunteer Sign Up at the Set Auction – People are going around the auction signing up for all sorts of toys – why not have them sign up as volunteers? You might even have a staffer or special volunteer stand by the spot and urge them along. Give a little gift for signing up – and have them stand at the event to be recognized.
  3. Table Hosts – pick out some consumers of services and/or some program staffers and have them serve as table hosts – with a purpose and an agenda! Their job – speak effectively about the agency (you’ve got a captive audience!) and have them capture some of interested attendees’ email addresses so you can send them more info after the event.
  4. Donor Retention – Jay Love and Adrian Sergeant have been hammering away at the drop off in donor retention, so do something at the event to recognize ongoing donors. Stick a red star on their name tag or place tag and have them stand to be acknowledged during the course of the event! Make a big deal out of it – it’s a big deal (since donor retention is down to 39%).
  5. Follow-up Fundraising – Send everyone a “thank you for coming” the next day – which means you have them ready to go prior to the event – and include an Ask! I know, you just got a gift for the event, but they should have been wowed and excited by the event, so why not remind them again what you’re all about. Why wait for next year when this year is when you need the money?

Notice that these do not add to your expenses (you already have a photographer, don’t you, at the event?), but they generate immediate or almost immediate responses, volunteers, and money, as well as engaging more program staff and/or consumers of services in the event.

Keep these five things in mind as you plan your year-end event!

Jonathan Spinner
Dr. Jonathan H. Spinner has been involved in the not-for-profit world for 31 years in executive and fundraising positions with small agencies and national and international organizations. To find out how Real Fundraising can help you, call (860-674-9528) or email [email protected]
Jonathan Spinner

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