You nailed it! You have sponsors, great auction items and a respected honoree… Is it even possible to make your upcoming event any better?
Before you answer, let me guess what you want out of an event:
Donations NOW. Donations LATER.
Am I right?
You’ve achieved the NOW – don’t forget about LATER.
You want to keep these donors so that they give again, either at your next mailing or at the next event. You want to become their friend, their confidante. You want them to take your phone calls/emails/letters.
Use digital marketing and your event to make that happen. The following suggestions are easy for anyone to do. Basically, all you need is email and a website.
It’s all about communication.
# 1 Set up a website to show off the auction items. Or use a page on your own website to display the items.
- Use this as a great way to pull people into your event. People love to look at the items that are being auctioned off. They can make a list of items to bid on at the event or even pre-bid on-line, if you allow it.
- A big plus is that you’ll make your auction item donors happy that they are highlighted on-line and that links are provided to their websites.
- I have used Auction Maestro at my events for many years. This is software with which you can develop a database, enter all of your auction items and run the auction on the day of the event. There are different packages with some amazing bells and whistles. I’m sure there are more of these companies out there – I’m suggesting this one as an example since I know it well and they’ve always been great to work with.
#2 Get the word out – to everyone.
- Four weeks ahead of the event, send out an email to a list made up of attendees, donors, supporters and friends. It’s a simple, personalized email that can be sent through a service such as Constant Contact or Raiser’s Edge’s email module. I recommend using something like either of these services because the emails can be personalized and are less likely to be discarded as spam. Introduce yourself as their contact to the event and invite them to go onto your Auction website to see the great auction items that await them at your event.
- Regularly, every few days or once a week, an email goes out to remind them to check back on the website to see new items. Different items are highlighted on the landing page every week. Best of all, they may take a moment to read the blurb about your charity.
- Create a big-ticket raffle and offer it to attendees and non-attendees alike. This is a raffle ticket your committee will be selling ahead of the event. All of the tickets should be sold by the week prior to the event. The ticket costs anywhere from $50 to $200. Since a limited amount of tickets are sold – it’s a great buy and a great chance at a trip or car or? … the sky’s the limit. More about this in a future blog, but for now, a word of warning: Raffles are not legal in every state – check the regulations.
- Provide information on directions, parking, weather, dress, speakers, celebrities attending or any other specifics to the event. This will be directed specifically to the attendees, so make certain that you have your list coded to pull those people into the distribution.
#3 Follow-up. Thank them and send pictures of the event.
- Send your new friends and donors a thank you for coming to the event the very next day. Include a picture or two. Give them an idea of how terrific the event was and include a few highlights. Tell them to watch for more pictures. If you know how much the event brought in for your charity – tell them the news and thank them for helping to make it possible.
- A few days after the event, personally email photos to your biggest sponsors and donors. These are photos that you had taken of them at the event. Of course, you’ll know which of them need hard copies sent through snail mail.
- Within a week, send out another email with more pictures to your whole list and tell them that a lot of pictures are up on your Facebook page. Provide the link. Ask them, while they are there, to “like” your page.
Your donors will like the attention because it’s about them. You’ll be reporting back to them on the success of their event. They will be more willing to consider another gift at a later time.
Three simple Digital Marketing tools at your fingertips!