We recently tuned in to an informative webinar on “Converting Event Donors to Organizational Donors” presented by fellow Giving Institute member, Event 360. The webinar, part of Giving Institute’s monthly series, opened by defining the characteristics of these two distinctly different types of donors—the difference being the individual’s degree of knowledge, connection, motivation and investment. Event donors are often connected by a third party and less knowledgeable about your mission, connected to your cause, and motivated to make a significant contribution, while organizational donors are usually far more invested in your cause, thus knowledgeable, connected and motivated.
An event, if approached strategically, can be much more than a one-time opportunity to raise funds for your organization—shift your focus to view it as an opportunity to engage with a brand new pool of donors. Be sure to present your organization in the best possible light (i.e. are your materials professional, polished, up-to-date, etc.). An event often draws individuals with little relationship to your organization, so it’s imperative to make yourself as attractive as possible in order to leverage this network to the best of your ability.
So, how do you convert these “arms length” donors to long-term organizational donors? A few helpful tips include:
1. Information Gathering. Gather as much data as possible to help segment event donors into categories. Are they potential Major Gift, Annual Fund or Planned Giving donors? Ask them why they give, to help find out more about their motivation and allow them a chance to tell their story.
2. Engagement. Develop a segmented engagement strategy by looking at the 8 to 10 months following the event to determine how you will engage each group of donors. How often will you engage with them, what methods will you use, what types of touches will you have, etc.? Involve colleagues from appropriate areas of your development office.
3. Qualify and Cultivate. First, qualify event donors as a yes, no or a maybe, then cultivate according to their segment to move these donors from an educational phase to a call-to-action where they are prepared to make a gift. Define your relationship with them and make a long-term strategy.
4. Conversion (or the ask). Make sure the “who, what, when, where and how” of the ask are in place. Involve other colleagues (i.e. people who brought the donor to the event) to ensure you have the right solicitation approach.
5. Stewardship. Use best stewardship practices to continue to keep event donors engaged and grow the relationship, reminding them that their contribution will help your long-term mission. Weave the event into the donor’s ongoing relationship with the organization.
The nature of an event donor lends itself to a slower path to the ask, but by laying the proper groundwork, convincing them that your organization is a good fit for them, it will be worth it in the end. Not only will you be educating more people about your organization’s mission, but you will be growing a whole new group of organizational donors to support your long-term goals.
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