Your Fundraising Event is Over. Now What?
Whew! You made it. The fundraiser 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 right 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 critical steps to take post-event to set yourself up for success next year.
Strike While the Iron is Hot
One day (or two) after the big 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 sometimes lead to sponsorships, new event committee members – even future auction item leads. Ask board members to make these calls! According to research from Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centric fundraising, 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. After 14 months, 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 well and what could use some refinement. 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 av, and registration support teams.
This is also the right time to learn more about your donors! Who gave big? Who gave last year AND this year? Who’s brand-new to your cause? Categorize your donors, then target them with communication specific to their giving history. This is donor development in real time! It makes them feel more connected with your org and your mission. It also helps strengthen your relationships with them – the number one factor in donor retention.
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. Encourage people to get involved with the event committees for next year. Remind them how rewarding the work really is!