5 Tips for Hosting Exceptional Donor Appreciation Events

You may be accustomed to hosting fundraising events where you are seeking donations or selling tickets. But what if you created an event to honor your top-tier donors? Make it an exclusive gathering that creates interest. If it’s done right, it may be a great way to revive your donor list. A donor appreciation event is also called a cultivation event since it allows you an opportunity to highlight the mission of your organization uniquely and creatively.  

 The event is usually held in a comfortable, fun environment. It can be a house party or a cocktail reception. Your goal is to engage in high-level interactions that gratify your guests. The result is that become more invested in your mission. It should seem more like a party than a fundraising event, of course. A well-planned cultivation event can be a powerful nonprofit marketing strategy. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

 Get All the Specifics Nailed Down 

 Determine the date of your donor appreciation event and add it to your calendar. Find the perfect location and decide what time it should start and end. Create a timeline leading up to the event so you can organize all the steps that need to happen and when they need to happen. While you are working on the specifics for the event, make sure to include these steps:

 ·   Book your special guests as early as you can.

 ·   Decide the roles for your staff, any volunteers, and your board members in planning the event and in the actual event.

 ·   Confirm all your attendees as soon as they RSVP. Be sure to invite more than you think will attend the event as you can expect between 10 and 30% to respond. 

Turn the Event into a Fun Party 

 Donors will expect to have a lot of fun without feeling like they are being pressured to give. A cultivation event is an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations that are not extremely heavy or serious. Create a relaxed atmosphere for guests. The goal is to strengthen and deepen their connection with the organization. Make sure to bill it as a party. That makes it sound more fun and relaxed from the start. 

 Create a Quality Event 

 When you host a cultivation event for your donors, you are offering an extension of your brand. This is why it’s important to pay attention to details. Your guests probably have deep pockets and are accustomed to attending lavish gatherings and events. They are not used to eating finger sandwiches and drinking boxed wine. While you will have a budget in mind, you still want to appeal to their tastes. Make sure that the party reflects the culture and personality of your organization. 

 Go All Out the Day of the Donation Appreciation Event 

 On the day of your big event, your guests will arrive ready to mingle with you, your staff, and amongst themselves. Open up about 15 minutes before the event start time to accommodate the early birds. Set the scene by placing your board members strategically so they are the first to be seen by your guests. They should be directed to a welcome table that contains guest name badges.  You may want to have a board member or one of your staff at the table. Appoint one person to be in charge of making sure the evening goes as planned. You want to make sure your guests feel special. Here are a few tips to help with that aspect of the event: 

 ·   Welcome each donor as they obtain their name badges and mark their name off the attendee list.

 ·   Members of your staff and board members should interact with donors throughout the evening. 

 ·   Make sure drinks and foods are stocked and ready all the time. 

 ·   Take lots of photos! (You can use these for marketing materials.)

 ·   Appoint a timekeeper who makes sure you stick to the schedule. 

 ·   Keep track of the little details like making sure the mic works and ensuring each guest receives a pamphlet about your organization and vision. 

 Make Sure to Follow Up 

 In the next week, send thank you notes to each attendee, even if they didn’t donate. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it also helps cultivate a relationship. You may also choose to send follow-up letters to those who chose not to attend inviting them to the next event. Make sure to tell them that you missed them and hope to see them at the next event. Include any materials that you handed out to guests during the event.   

 Let Name Tag Pros Help With Your Event Name Badges 

 You’ll provide guest name badges for attendees, but don’t forget about the branding opportunity you have. Creating stellar name tags with your organization’s logo on them and your staff or board member’s names displayed will help increase brand familiarity and speak highly of your organization. Let Name Tag Pros help you design your event name badges. We make the ordering process as hassle-free as possible and can help you design a name tag inside your budget. Call us today at 1-888-754-8337 and get your order started.

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