Fundraising & Development

From Attendees to Donors: Low-stakes nonprofit events to gain more supporters

January 18, 2021 Nonprofits Decoded Team
virtual event example using Zoom meeting

Converting attendees to donors is no easy task and often one of the hardest pieces of nonprofit fundraising. That being said, if you play your cards right, it can be one of the fastest ways to get support for your cause. There are some key things that you need to bear in mind if you want to utilize this strategy though.

Fortunately, we’ve constructed this guide that’s going to educate you on some tips and tricks that will make it far easier to grow your supporter-base without the stakes getting too high on these events.

If you’ve wanted to get more supporters but were never sure how to do so with events then this is the article for you. Let’s get right into it.

What’s the ‘why’ behind your nonprofit event strategy?

You might be wondering why getting more supporters is even needed in the first place. After all, your current supporters already help your cause, right? Well, the main benefit of having a larger base of supporters is the fact that you won’t have to ask each one as much when trying to meet your nonprofit organization’s fundraising goals.

For instance, if you’re trying to raise $100,000 in one month and only have 100 supporters then you’ll need to ask each of them to donate $1,000 of their hard-earned cash. That will be very difficult to do unless they’re all wealthy. In contrast, if you had 1,000 supporters then each one would only need to give $100 for you to meet your goal.

Bring that number up to 10,000 supporters and suddenly you’re hitting your goal after each supporter donates a mere $10. Furthermore, supporters are bound to donate more than $10 thus you’ll likely exceed your goal when you have a larger base.

But beyond money, ask yourself, what’s the why? Why should a potential donor get involved with your organization? Why should they become more than an attendee at your golf tournament or fashion show? How will their donation help support your mission?

Hosting an event is just the first step in growing as an organization.

Virtual nonprofit events

Now more than ever, virtual events for nonprofits have become the norm. They’re perfect for any budget and have low barriers to entry for a new potential donor.

By hosting a virtual event, you won’t have to worry about covering the costs of a venue and you’ll even get more reach due to the fact that it’s easier for your supporters to “attend” an event online than physically go to a live event.

You can even use your online events to bring more attendees to your live events via an online silent auction. Those who donate to your cause at the online event could even get a VIP pass to the live events — creating a win-win situation in which you raise more funds and generate more traffic for your live event. They’re also generally easier to advertise through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Searching for clues, sharing on social media

Why should you limit the fun of scavenger hunts to Easter when you can have them year-round. You might think that something as “childish” as this wouldn’t do your nonprofit any good, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Having your supporters photograph a specific landmark that’s historically significant to your cause then post it online while tagging your nonprofit organization is a great way to get attention on social media without spending a dime.

You could even offer a prize for the first few supporters who complete the scavenger hunt — adding incentive for those who are on the fence about participating in the first place. Some nonprofits have even taken this idea to the next level by developing apps akin to Pokémon GO.

You should certainly consider following suit — especially if your donors are generally in the younger demographic. That being said, don’t break the bank just to develop an app. Even sticking to the old-fashioned route will help you gain new supporters for your nonprofit by getting the attention of the public.

Some foundations and charities also partner with supporters to bring their businesses into the hunt, placing clues at the locations.

Ready, set, run in support of your cause

Marathons are another great way to raise awareness for your cause and as a result, gain more supporters without spending too much. If you were to host a gala or convention then you would have to pay for the venue, entertainment, and dining arrangements.

Marathons are practically free. You don’t have to cover the venue and advertising can be done even while on a low budget if you leverage social media. Of course, you’ll need to get the relevant permits from city officials if you want to avoid hefty fines. And, given the current state of the world, they’re an easy, outdoor activity that’s socially distanced!

That being said, it’s still far easier to get these permits than cover the costs for other events. Marathons are also grand public displays that span over large areas — meaning your nonprofit will get a lot of exposure. More exposure will inevitably bring in new supporters, making it easier to hit your fundraising goals. Selling T-shirts with the name of your nonprofit is also wise. Not only will this raise more funds for the cause but it will also turn each runner into a mobile billboard that spreads awareness.

Why try a new type of nonprofit event?

For years, many people thought that the only way to get new supporters through events was to spend a small fortune on booking the grandest venue, serving the best food, and hiring the hottest singers of the day.

Fortunately, many nonprofits, foundations and charities have started using more affordable strategies to grow their base of supporters. If you’re running a nonprofit that’s trying to get more supporters for a worthwhile cause then you should try out a few of the ideas that we’ve listed above. Happy fundraising!