Six Tips to Increase Event Revenue...After the Event


Those of you who know me know that I am not a fan of special event fundraising. I believe that events have a place in an organization’s overall strategic fundraising and marketing strategy, but few events raise sufficient revenue to justify their costs in terms of staff and volunteer time and outright expenses.

Now before you fill the comments with examples of events that raise a ton of money, I understand that exceptions exist. But when I hear an organization jubilant over their event raising $5,000, it reminds me again why I feel the way I do about events.

Part of my concern comes from the fact that I see so much wasted potential from events.Organizations could raise so much more money if they stop thinking that events end when the last guest goes home but instead uses the event as an important educational and cultivational tool in the fundraising cycle.

With that in mind, my top 6 tips to better leverage your next event to raise more money all year long.

  1. Collect the names and contact information of everyone who attends. Sounds simple enough, but do you know who filled all of your tables, walked in your door or ran your race? These people came for a reason; they identify with your cause or know someone who does. In any case, they gave up an evening (or afternoon or morning) to attend so it is worth your time to know who they are. At a recent event I attended, they handed out coupons to redeem for a free drink if you gave your name and address. Not everyone turned them in, but they got a lot more addresses than they had when the night started.

  2. At the event, talk about your organization. Again, seems simple but I have attended events that get so wrapped up in the event that they forget to tell the audience their mission. You have a captive audience of 50, 100, 200, or 1,000+ people who came for a reason. Give them your best elevator speech, expose them to your best client stories, tell them what you do! If you have a more “active” event – like a walk or golf tournament – find ways to intersperse your mission throughout the event, at water tables or each tee. You don’t want attendees to just walk away feeling good about the event but also feeling good about (and more knowledgeable of) your organization.

  3. After the event, thank everyone. Have an email ready to send the next morning that thanks everyone for attending. With on-line event registration that integrates with email solutions, you can set the email up weeks in advance. Few organizations thank attendees, and this simple email will make you stand out from the crowd.

  4. Spend a special thank you to volunteers and event donors. I know people who write thank you notes to staff and volunteers before the event and drop them in the mail on their way home. How special to receive a handwritten letter a day or so after the event! Do you thank those who bought from your silent auction? Live auction? Donated auction items? Sponsors? Drop them a note a day or so after the event to let them know how much you appreciate their support and what a difference it makes for your mission.

  5. Integrate event attendees into your fundraising cycle. These people just spent a few hours learning all about your great work, now ask them for money to support your mission. Integrate them into your annual fund mail and email lists. Review attendees with your board and volunteers to identify major gift prospects and then invite them for coffee to find out why they attended and their opinion of the event as a first step toward a major gift ask.

  6. A few months later, send a letter or email to everyone letting them know the difference their attendance at the event made on the people you serve. Tell them how much the event raised, but more importantly, talk about it in terms of your mission and clients. “The $100,000 that you helped us raise that night fed 5,000 kids, clothed 1,000 infants, and put the roof over the head of 50 families who otherwise would have slept in their car.”

People continue to give because they know they made a difference. Event attendees have a similar motivation. Let your event attendees know that you appreciate their time, that their attendance at your event made a difference, and how they can continue to make a difference for your clients the other 364 days of the year.

What other tips do you have to increase revenue AFTER the event?