8 Tips for Marketing Your Nonprofit Event
For many nonprofit organizations, special events are a major source of fundraising dollars. An effective marketing strategy can increase awareness of your event and organization; drive traffic to your social media platforms and website; and increase ticket sales and overall funds raised for your organization.
To do this, your marketing strategy should include a variety of tactics to spread the word and get people to your event. With detailed planning and thoughtful execution, your event will get the attention it deserves and will raise the money your organization needs to serve the community.
Form a Committee
Many nonprofits are limited on man-power and large fundraising events can utilize a lot your team’s time and energy. Forming a committee can relieve some of that pressure. Invite board members, supporters and volunteers to join the committee and assign tasks to each committee member. Depending on their interests, they may want to help secure sponsorships or they may want to help collect silent auction items. Either way, committee members are eager to help and often have contacts and relationships that can help promote the event and spread the word.
Meet on a regular basis and keep your committee informed on event developments and details. A Facebook group works well to keep everyone informed and provides a great space for others to give their own updates as well.
Save the Date
A save the date email is a great way to let people know about your event and get it on their calendar. This email should be sent out 6-12 months prior to your event. The email should include the event name, date, time, location, and your organization’s logo, mission, and website. If applicable, include a direct link to purchase tickets so it’s easy for guests to RSVP quickly.
Utilize your email database to choose who to send the save the date to. Include all past event attendees, donors, board members, and volunteers. Consider sending a mail invite to any VIP guests or major donors. A mail invite with a handwritten note or unique gift would make these individuals feel appreciated and more likely to attend.
Social media is essential to building awareness of your event and organization. In the months leading up to your event, share a variety of content related to the event including save the date, links to purchase tickets, photos from past events, volunteer information, etc. These types of posts can be inter-mingled with your regular social media posts in the months leading up to your big event.
Create a hashtag specific to your event and use it in every post. At the event, ask guests to use the hashtag on their social media as well. After the event, search for the hashtag and be sure to comment or like those who posted about the event.
Also, create an event on your organization’s Facebook page. In the event itself, you can get more specific with your posts and include teases on silent auction items and entertainment. This is also a good place to tag and thank any partners or sponsors supporting the event.
Consider advertising your event on Facebook or Instagram. For minimal cost, you can reach thousands of potential attendees through targeted ads. If you’re having a wine event, you can target those who are interested in wine; for a sports event, you can target those who are interested in sports; and so on.
Be sure that your organization’s website has a specific landing page for your event. The page should include all important details including the event date, time, location, and a link to purchase tickets, if applicable.
For a larger event, consider getting a separate URL for the event itself. This will provide more options as you can create landing pages for information, sponsors, ticket sales, etc. Co-brand this website with your organization logo, mission, and the event logo so people know this is your organization’s event.
After your initial save the date email, it’s important to keep your event at the top of everyone’s inboxes. Plan to send one email a month and then twice a month in the two months prior to the event. These emails are a great opportunity to update your supporters on new partnerships, ticket sales, entertainment, etc.
Always include links to your website and information how to contact you if they need more information.
Engaging bloggers and social media influencers is a great way to increase awareness of your event. In exchange for tickets, many influencers are happy to help spread the word on their social media platforms. If you’ve partnered with bloggers before, leverage those relationships to see if they would help share your event.
If you’ve never engaged with influencers, research their blogs and social media before you reach out. Explore what type of content they share (food, lifestyle, travel), how often they post, how many followers they have and how engaged their followers are (likes, comments). If you’re hosting a food and wine tasting, look for food bloggers. If you’re organization serves children, look for family and lifestyle bloggers.
Once you’ve compiled a group of bloggers, consider inviting them to your organization, a month or two prior to your special event, to see firsthand what you do and how you help the community. Give each blogger a packet of info, including info on your programs and services but also on the event itself. Include a detailed sheet for them on the event with date, time, website, hashtags to use, etc. Hosting them prior allows them to see what the event supports and gives them an opportunity to start posting and sharing about your organization in the weeks leading up to the special event.
The first step to getting media to cover your event is to write and send a press release. There is a specific format for a news release and many templates can be found online. Utilizing the template, make sure your headline and introduction captivate your reader quickly.
Keep it concise and include all details relevant to the event. Always have a colleague review your release for any grammatical errors. Once the release is ready, send a personal email to any media you have existing relationships with. From there, target other media outlets in your community including TV, radio, and print. Send the release 2-4 weeks prior to your event and follow-up a week ahead of the event with an email or phone call.
Follow-Up Thank You
Saying “thank you” is the most important part of a successful event. Donors and supporters want to feel appreciated and know that they truly made a difference. Show your appreciation with a follow-up email to your attendees and a social media post, as well. Be sure to include next year’s event date in your follow-up if you have it scheduled already. Don’t forget to recognize your committee and any others that contributed to your success.