How to Create Loyal Donors & Lasting Value from Big Events

The party’s over!  That’s the perpetual problem every event fundraiser faces.  How do you keep the interest, and money, flowing between events?  The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) faces a particularly unique brand of this problem.  Their event cycle is four years, as opposed to the typical annual cycle for nonprofit walks, bikes, galas, etc.  At this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Johanna Olivas, digital fundraising manager for the USOC, about Team USA’s event cycle challenges and how what we’ve learned together over the past two years could apply to any nonprofit’s event acquisition and retention plans.

Here is the advice we compiled for your pre-party (aka how to acquire guests), party (how to make sure they have a good time) and after-party (how to keep them primed to come back):

Leading up to the party you must:

  • Collaborate.  What are your neighbors doing and how will it affect your guests? (Talk to other departments in your organization!)
  • Be welcoming and purposefully invite everyone.
  • Define a great value proposition for attending.
  • Give people multiple ways to consider you.
  • Provide consistent communication throughout the year (and not just about the upcoming event).

During the party you must:

  • Control the flow.
  • Be constant. Tell people what’s going on in this moment and the one right after it.
  • Be fun.
  • Give attendees what they came for (even if those are very different things than what you thought they wanted).
  • Say thank you, A LOT.

Your communication after your event must be:

  • Pre-planned
  • Mindful of event cycle
  • Immediate
  • Genuine
  • Data-seeking
  • Consistent
  • Exchange oriented

How will you make your next fundraising event as successful as it can be – before, during and after?

Join the Discussion