Today’s guest post comes to us from Jon Kazarian. Jon is the co-founder and CEO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text message bidding. An active member in the Boston fundraising scene and co-founder of the Boston Fall Formal, Jon focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.
Effective promotion of your fundraising event is a surefire way to increase your event’s attendance and reach your fundraising goal.
While there are many different promotion strategies and channels available to you, we’ve found that a combination of multiple strategies and channels works best.
To get you started, we’ve put together our list of 37 Ways to Promote Your Fundraiser.
To simplify our list a bit, we segmented our promotion strategies into five key categories, all of which can be used together to create an effective promotion strategy:
- Planning Your Strategy
Planning Your Strategy
1. Select an Exciting Venue
A fun venue is the first step towards a successful fundraising event. Look for exciting locations in your city – our favorite venues are those that are open to unique themes and attractions, while also providing accessibility to your guests. Once your venue is selected, prepare content to promote your venue (teasers leading up to the “Big Reveal” always keep your guests interested!).
2. Create a theme
The theme that you choose must complement your venue. Based on your audience, a more formal theme may be a great option. Or, you may choose to mix it up and create a casino or circus theme. Regardless of the theme you choose, be sure to promote the details to your audience, as this will create further excitement!
3. Focus on FOMO (fear of missing out) and Word of Mouth
Nobody likes to miss out on a great time. Focus your marketing on making sure people know how much fun the event will be. Keep your attendees socially accountable by encouraging them to post about the tickets they recently purchased for your event. This approach is particularly useful with millennials!
4. Mystery surprises / suspense
Adding some suspense to your event is always a great way to inspire return visits to your Facebook event page, or your fundraiser’s website. In the months leading to our annual fundraiser, we allude to different surprises that will be announced as the big night approaches. By doing so, we keep our audience on their toes, and build additional hype for our event.
5. Create incentives for your committee
Having a motivated host committee will go a long way when it comes to getting the word out about your event. Event ticketing sites such as SquadUp allow you to track which of your committee members has referred the most ticket purchasers. Come up with a fun way to reward that person, such as a gift card, or free tickets for your event’s raffle.
6. Create exclusivity
As you begin promoting your fundraising event, try to create a feeling of exclusivity. You want your guests to feel special for being invited to your event. Some methods to create exclusivity include:
Keywords in your messaging and copy (“By special invite only”),
Staggering the release of your invitations (see more in our Online section below)
7. Sell event tickets online
Listing your event on a site like Eventbrite will bring more exposure to your event while making it easier for people to find and purchase tickets. It will also make check-in a breeze on your big day!
8. Tier your ticket prices
Offer a discount to give people an incentive to buy tickets early. These early birds will then becomes ambassadors for your event, convincing their friends and family to join.
9. Professional-quality graphic design
Quality graphic design is essential. Professional-quality graphic design makes your event look much more credible. For a first-time event without an established track record, this simple task will more than pay for itself.
10. Give it a cool name
The name you choose for your event should align with your event theme. Come up with something fun but also easy to remember. This will all help your word-of-mouth advertising effort. Bonus tip: Alliteration always makes it easy for people to remember your event name.
11. Awesome raffle & silent auction items
As your fundraising event approaches, try to collect amazing silent auction and raffle items. Spin these items into another opportunity to promote the event, as you can message your attendees with hints about some of the marquis items that will be available at your event.
12. Show appreciation
As you update your audience on the progress your event or cause is making, always thank your attendees for their purchase and contribution! Showing donor and attendee appreciation is a great way to encourage attendees to return and become advocates, while also generating excitement for your event as you approach your fundraising goal.
13. Open Your Silent Auction / Raffle Early
Once you’ve collected enticing silent auction or raffle items, use an online silent auction or raffle platform to allow for bids / raffle ticket sales before your physical fundraising event kicks off. Opening the bidding early will not only increase your proceeds, but will provide your team with another valuable touchpoint and opportunity for promotion to drive interest for your event.
- Create a page
Pages are a great way to keep people informed about your event or organization throughout the year. Please Note: This is different than creating a Facebook event, as a page does not have a definitive lifespan. Facebook pages will allow you to provide updates throughout the year, in order to create loyalty and return attendees.
- Create an event
This is a must for almost any fundraising event. It is the easiest way to get the word out for your upcoming event. If you create your event through your new Facebook page, you will also be able to ‘boost’ your event, which is one way to advertise on Facebook. Just $20 will go a long way in getting the word out.
- Invite your friends and family!
We encourage you to refrain from blasting off an invite to all 1,132 people on your Facebook friends list (minus your exes, of course). It is CRITICAL that you invite your closest friends first. These people will be your early adopters and best supporters / advocates for your cause.
Start with your inner circle, and ask that group to invite their close friends as well. For nonprofits, the same idea holds true, but rather than inviting close friends, you will first be inviting your strongest supporters and fans.
The major benefits here are:
- People are more likely to accept an invite from a close friend.
- People trust their friends. They assume that their friend has already vetted the event and thinks it will be worth attending.
- It also keeps your attendees-to-invitees ratio low. Keeping your ratio low creates a sense of exclusivity and intent to attend, helping to justify the ticket price.
15. Stay active but not spammy.
To stay on the radar of our attendees and those getting ready to purchase tickets, we like to periodically create fun posts on Facebook about our event. Many of these posts are about our numerous and exciting raffle or silent auction items, with cool prizes ranging from restaurant gift certificates to our grand prize, week-long, beach house getaway.
We also create fun memes to keep the mood light, and get people excited about the big event.
16. Create a Hashtag
Create a fun #hashtag and encourage people to use it. You could run a promotion or giveaway to the people who use the hashtag leading up to, at, or after the event.
Twitter is a great way to publicly contact influencers. Is there anyone that your local audience follows? If so, tweet at that person/business/organization/band/etc. and ask them to give you a shoutout. Don’t forget to use your event #hashtag!
Ask your host committee and friends to post a picture related to your event. You could also hold a contest and offer free tickets to the best ‘gram’ related to your event. You know where this is going, but keep encouraging people to use the event #hashtag!
19. Get mobile
With all of the digital strategies you take, make sure they are optimized for mobile visiting. More and more people are using their mobile devices to read the news, share updates, and even to support a cause. This means your donation pages, emails, and other digital content should be optimized for mobile!
20. Text message
Collect phone numbers during your online ticket purchase. You can then keep these early birds up to date with the status of your ticket sales, so that they can remind their friends to buy tickets.
This is obvious, but if you have an email list, contact them early and often (but don’t be spammy). End your message by telling readers to forward the email along to anyone they think might be interested in the fundraiser.
22. Build a website
Seriously, build a website. You can do it yourself in less than an hour. It’s not hard. Just use a tool like Squarespace or Weebly. Our site was 5 simple pages:
- Landing page with event details
- Ticket purchase
- Link to the charity
- Link to the venue
- Raffle items
This quick site made the event look more legit, and also gave people an easy way to find our event when their friends told them about it.
23. Post pictures of previous events or the venue
Have you hosted this event in the past? If so, show everyone how much fun people had! Sharing photos will get everyone excited and bring back the great memories they made. If this is a new event, then you can share photos of the venue to create some hype.
24. Circulate your event video
If you don’t have a video for the event, there’s a good chance that the organization you are supporting has an emotionally gripping video that they would love for you to share
25. Donation page
Donation pages are an effective way to reach a larger potential donor base. These pages also are good for promoting your fundraiser, as those who donate through your page can share their donation on social media and raise awareness for your cause.
26. Work/Company newsletters
Another way to reach a new audience is to have each of your committee members arrange to have an internal email sent at their workplace. This will help promote your event, but can also be a great intro to open the conversation for potential sponsorship.
27. Local newspaper
Use local newspapers to promote your event outside of your social circle. Create a press release describing your event and the motivation behind your cause. Then send it out to as many local newspapers as possible.
In a similar fashion to newspapers, local magazine publications are another promotion tool. Many local magazines will even include a section on upcoming events – spotlighting your fundraiser here could be a great way to reach a new audience!
29. Direct mailings
If you already have a mailing list, direct mail can be a very effective (but expensive) way to get the word out. Spend time to personalize your message to increase read rates and engagement.
Put that fancy logo your graphic designer made on a flyer and post it everywhere you can.
31. Use your network
Don’t do all the work yourself! Use your network to your advantage to reach as many as possible. Encourage your volunteers / committee to do the same to really amplify your reach. Finally, encourage your supporters and attendees to share your event on their social channels.
32. Have your venue promote your event
Does your venue have a public calendar of upcoming events? If so, make sure that your event is listed. The venue might also allow you to post a few flyers.
Did you hire a well-known DJ or a photographer with a large Instagram following for your event? Ask them to mention your event. Everyone likes to tell people about the nonprofit work they are involved in, and it spreads the word for your event!
Depending on the size of your sponsor, they probably have massive reach through their communication channels. For local sponsors, especially, social shares or email blasts (even if just to employees) can be very effective at increasing your event’s reach and attendance.
35. School publications
Almost every school and university has some form of publication. Today, most have both a student- and faculty-run newsletter. Find a reporter who has written about your cause or previous events, and ask them to put a piece together.
36. Local celebrities & town officials
If you’re lucky, either you or someone in your committee will have a connection to a local celebrity. If so, invite them to the event as a VIP, and ask them to post or share content about your event to generate some additional buzz.
37. Speakers / Presenters
If your event has a guest speaker or presenter, ask them to publicize the event and their speaking opportunity through their channels.
Do you have other ideas on how to promote a fundraising event? If so, let us know in the comment section. We are always looking for ideas on how to make fundraising better.