It’s a dilemma we hear often from nonprofit clients: “Our events program is recruiting new participants who support our organization during events season. But as soon as it ends, they fade to the background until the next rallying cry to walk, run, or bike for our cause. How do we keep them engaged, and contributing, beyond the event?”We took on this challenge and developed an innovative events conversion strategy that leverages seasonality and relevant, connected messaging. It spans across events and direct response fundraising programs and channels to increase the value of events participants to the organization.
Our donor-centric strategic approach is centered on three core principles:
1. Rethinking Departmental Silos: Retooling our approach across departmental lines
One key to success is bringing to the table internal stakeholders from events and direct response programs to define a shared commitment to drive value of constituents holistically for the organization, rather than within one program. Each area brings its strengths and POV to create a fundraising experience that bridges the traditionally siloed approach.
2. Deconstructing the Event Audience Experience: Identifying the integral parts of the event experience
To create a better fundraising experience, we need to better understand and leverage the key components of the events experience that captured supporters’ interest and commitment in the first place. For many, that’s a deep, personal connection to the cause that drives their involvement combined with the practical and social support provided by the event. By deconstructing the events audience’s experience, we can incorporate essential elements into the fundraising experience to create more relevant messaging that drives better response.
3. Upsell and Cross-sell Event Audience: How to ask for additional donation(s)
Our value-based analysis of clients’ events participants revealed two potential paths for increasing constituent value through the direct response channel:
- Upsell — give to event again; and
- Cross-sell — give to the mission.
Taking a page from retail commerce, we wanted to learn whether it would be easier to get people to “buy” something which with they already are interested in again — in this case, giving to the event — or getting people to “buy” a different product, by giving to the mission via direct response fundraising. We road tested both tracks through rapid 90-day multi-channel test sprints during peak giving periods to drive response.
Initial results were impressive with the new conversion strategy driving 37% more revenue to the organization and 16% increase in event registrations. Even more dramatic was the response by event team captains with 25% higher giving levels and 50% increase in revenue contributed to the organization.
By focusing on the events audience experience and rethinking how to communicate with them across programs and channels, we are helping organizations maximize constituent value and their investment in events.