5-Step Guide to Donor Communications After an Event

Guest Post Contributed by: Dan Quirk, Marketing Manager at Salsa

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There are few greater feelings in the world than the sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed a difficult task, such as the moments in the immediate aftermath of a fundraising event.

Your nonprofit has worked hard, gathered a great crowd, and raised money for your cause. Once the night is over, it is time to celebrate and revel in the fruits of your labor. Your team deserves to celebrate, but it’ll have to jump back into action pretty quickly. Post-event communications don’t write themselves.

Follow these five steps as you walk through your post-event donor communications.

Need event inspiration before you check out these donor communications tips? You can read DonorPro’s extensive compilation of fundraising event ideas here.


1. Gather necessary contact information before the attendees leave.

Okay, I know. Technically this step does not take place in the post-event world. This is something you’ll need to accomplish before and during the fundraiser. But, hey, the early bird gets the worm.

You can’t send out excellent post-event communications if you are missing the names, emails, phone numbers, and addresses of your attendees.

Yes, fundraising events are focused on fundraising. However, they are also an opportune chance for your organization to deepen its relationship with supporters. You will not be able to build on your time with those supporters if you have no means of reaching them afterwards.

To ensure that you gather the necessary contact information:

  • Request those details during the event registration and store the data in your CRM. With the right donor database software, you should be able to set up registration and ticketing pages online and seamlessly collect all the requisite information.
  • Actively seek out those details while the event is occurring. This method of data collection is going to vary from event to event. For some, this might mean putting contact cards on dinner tables, while for others it might include asking everyone to put their details down to be entered into a raffle. Find creative ways to get the necessary donor data for post-event follow-up.

If you didn’t get enough information to move forward with, there’s an option for you. *Hint* It’s step two!


2. Prospect screen to fill in any blanks.

Now we’re officially on to post-event donor communication tips. Maybe your gala attendees brought plus ones that you didn’t have details on or your walk-a-thon walkers invited friends to watch you weren’t expecting. With the influx of new people, you collected some complete contact cards, but, for many, you only secured a name and maybe one other detail.

Worry not! Let prospect research fill in the personal data blanks. The more details you have, the better you’ll be able to research, but even with limited information, prospect research can fill in enough blanks for your nonprofit to be able to effectively communicate.

Once you have the right details to be able to reach out to your event attendees, prospect research can also assist you in getting to know them better so that you can customize your communications and stewardship.

Your screening could reveal that a few of your guests are high-quality major gift or planned giving prospects. You won’t know until you look, though.


3. Segment your attendees into communication groups.

Now that you know a little more about each of your guests, it is time to segment them. You could send them all the same emails and series of follow-ups, but that doesn’t serve you, your mission, or, most importantly, your supporters in the ideal way.

When it comes to doing the actual work of segmenting, you have options depending on your nonprofit’s need, such as grouping guests according to:

  • Expected giving level. That way, you can funnel monthly giving prospects down one communication path and major giving prospects down another.
  • Future event interest. Take your list of guests and compare it to your events calendar. Find the right events for the right supporters and send invites accordingly.
  • Preferred communication channel. Through careful tracking of donor preferences in your CRM and potentially a post-event survey, you should be able to ascertain how each attendee likes to be contacted. Within your organization’s resources and budget, try to cater to donor preference as much as possible.

There are plenty of other ways to segment your attendee list. You can personalize your segmentation efforts according to the needs and resources of your nonprofit.


4. Start with your thank yous.

Immediate gratitude is the first step in donor retention. As such, it has to be a step in your post-event donor communications.

The first communication an attendee should receive from you following an event is a thank you.

Your thank you should include:

  • A salutation with the donor’s name .
  • A direct, genuine thank you for attending.
  • An acknowledgement of any additional donations the guest made during the event with further instructions if needed.
  • A summary of what the event was able to accomplish thanks to the generous participation of the guests.
  • A signature from one of the more prominent event organizers, whether that’s a development officer at your organization or the event chair or both.

Your supporters offer so much more than money. Show them that you value the relationship you’re building before diving into solicitation mode.


5. Move attendees into your email list.

The heading here says email list, but it doesn’t necessary have to be email. If a donor feels like email is a source of spam, you’re not going to be able to connect with the donor that way, so it isn’t worth your time.

The point of this step is to emphasize that after an event, the ball is in your organization’s court. It is up to you continue the relationship. Adding guests to an email list is one way of doing so. You don’t want to fade from their memory, so sending email newsletters is the perfect, cost effective way to stay in touch without overwhelming them. Make sure your newsletter includes calls-to-action and is donor-centric, not organization-centric.

There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way to manage email, so check out this advice to avoid giving subscribers email fatigue.

Once you’ve gone through this process with your next few events, your team will be able to follow the steps in their sleep. At a certain point in the not-too-distant future, study your communication performance using fundraising success metrics. You’ll find out your strengths and weaknesses and account for them after your next fundraising event. Happy hosting!

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Iris Creative Group Inc. • 451 S. Bethlehem Pike, Suite 310 • Fort Washington, PA 19034 • P: 267.468.7949
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