2020 Event Trends

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10 Steps to Secure More Donations for Your Next Event

By Kelli White
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Struggling to secure donations for your event? Here are 10 ways to boost contributions to your cause.

Tracking down the perfect vendors, loyal attendees and a supportive staff can be a tall order for any event manager, but how many of us spend time and energy focused on finding donations to help sustain our event? Depending on your niche in the industry, your events may rely on donations in order for the event to survive. Most often these events are found in the nonprofit sector, but for-profit events can also benefit from donations in order to execute their event within budget. Here are 10 tips that will get you on track to securing donations for your next event!

  1. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

For many of us, asking for donations can be a task that is outside of our normal routine. Some people are just born with the ability to “make the ask” or “close the deal”, while others may need to expand their comfort level over time.

Start out small by asking for in-kind or product donations. If your job requires you to find financial contributors, go into the meeting educated on why donors should be supporting your event. Many people find comfort in knowing that the funds they are raising are going to support a great company, event, cause, etc. When you convey this confidence in your pitch to potential donors they will be much more likely to contribute.  

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  1. Pick Up The Phone

In our world today we are all so connected by email and technology that we often forget the power of a simple phone call. When reaching out to potential donors and sponsors you should start out by making a call, or even approaching the contact in person if at all possible. When it comes to financial support and finding people or companies to invest in your event you need to build a personal connection and the easiest way to do so is through real conversations.

  1. Build Quality Relationships in Your Community

In order to receive donations from local companies or supporters, you need to find a way to build trust within your community. Try working on creating quality relationships with potential local supporters by being present and interactive in your area.

Look for local networking opportunities, community events and opportunities to build relationships with other like minded individuals. You never know where a relationship might lead and often times the connections you create will provide fantastic leads to potential donors and supporters.

  1. Find Donors Who Connect With Your Mission or Event

One of the best ways to find repeat donors is by identifying people who are passionate about what your event is trying to accomplish and have a connection to your mission. Once you find these supporters they can be some of the biggest champions for your cause. Not only are they likely to become donors, but they will also encourage others to contribute.

Keep this in mind as you network in your community. When someone seems interested in the work you do, find a way to engage them early on. This might be by asking them to join your event committee or involving them in your cause through a volunteer opportunity.

  1. Look for Mutually Beneficial Relationships

When a company donates to an event they may have a passion for your cause, but they are probably also seeking a chance to show the community that they give back. Find ways to provide donors with proper recognition and value for their contribution.

Find out what is important to your donors and look for ways to meet these needs. Does the donor also want a chance for their staff to volunteer at the event? Create this opportunity for them. Are they seeking recognition? Display their logo on the event program or banners in visible locations. If your supporters see the donation as a mutually beneficial opportunity they will be more likely to support you year after year.

  1. Seek Out In-Kind Donations

In-kind or product donations can prove to be just as valuable as monetary donations depending on the needs of your event. When you find a sponsor that wants to donate a product or service instead of donating money, think about the benefits that this will provide to your attendees.

Are they donating food or an item that could be used as an attendee gift? Or perhaps they are a local photographer that is donating their services for the event. No matter what they would like to donate there is a good chance that the money you save through their donation can have a significant impact in your bottom line.

This is especially important if you are working in a nonprofit setting, as you can save a large amount of money by seeking out in-kind donors. Also, don't forget to provide these donors with some recognition at the event as this is most oftentimes a large part of their motivation for being involved.

  1. Outline Your Donation Levels and Opportunities

By showing your donors the value that you can provide through your event you will not only be giving them a chance to get involved with a great event, but you are defining the value they will obtain with their donation. Create some type of collateral piece that helps you present the donor opportunities and levels. Some donors may want to give more for the opportunity get extra access at the event or a certain level of recognition, etc. Other donors may want to create a custom opportunities such as sponsoring a specific meal or have their funds designated to a certain area of the event or charity.

  1. Share Stories That Make an Impact

When you are seeking significant financial donations you need to find a creative way to share your event’s cause or purpose with potential supporters. Sharing stories that can reflect the impact your donors will have is one of the most influential ways to connect the donors to the cause.  

Utilize creative messaging with images, video, written stories and artwork. When a donor has the chance to form a real picture why there is a need for donations, they will be much more inclined to open their wallet for your cause.

  1. Start Early

Most company budgets are created in the previous year, so you need to be sure to target potential donors early on. Give as much notice as possible and if a company turns you down due to the timeline, find out what type of lead time they need and put them on your list to approach for next year.

  1. Make The Ask and Make It Often

A donor will never know that your event needs money if you don’t take the time to ask them for a donation. Sometimes it is really just this simple. You can show them the need and explain all of the exciting details about the event, but unless you flat out ask them for support they may not realize you're looking for a contribution. Make it simple. Once you have shown the need for their support ask them to contribute.

Sometimes you may need to ask more than once. After the initial ask, don't be afraid to follow up. Often times companies or individuals may need some time to consider the details, but if you don’t follow up they may think you found the support in another way and you no longer have a need for their support.

In Conclusion

The event industry has many different niches and if you have the chance to work on an event that also has a positive impact on the world or your community, you should take pride in this special opportunity. Along with this opportunity does come a certain pressure to find donors and supporters who can help offset the costs and expenses that go along with large events. By working hard to obtain high-quality donors or event sponsors, you will be able to identify people and companies who can continue to support your event for many years to come.

about the author

Kelli White
Kelli White has 10 years experience in event management, creative marketing, volunteer coordination and non-profit fundraising. You can follow her at @kellimwhite.
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