Prioritizing Donor Appreciation at Nonprofit Events: 5 Tips

As a nonprofit professional, you know the importance of building relationships with your supporters. When you develop these relationships, you’re able to retain more supporters, increasing their lifetime value and ultimately raising more from them.

Events are one of your primary supporter engagement opportunities and a great opportunity to develop these relationships. You can mingle with supporters, learn more about them, take notes to add to CRM profiles, provide new information about your mission, and collect donations, all from a single event venue.

But how do you make sure these relationships grow? By showing your appreciation after the event.

In this guide, we’ll be diving into five tips that you can use to make the most of your appreciation strategies with supporters, including:

  1. Thank Everyone
  2. Write Appreciation Letters
  3. Shout Out Your Sponsors
  4. Ask for Feedback
  5. Call Attendees

According to Bloomerang’s donor appreciation guide, showing proper appreciation to supporters can directly negate some of the main reasons they stop giving to nonprofits. For instance, a well-crafted appreciation message can help your organization keep the 5% of donors who leave because they don’t think the organization needs them, the 18% who believe the organization has poor communication, and the 13% who were never thanked for their support.

Let’s get started with some tips to make sure you’re showing ample appreciation for your supporters.

1. Thank Everyone

Events aren’t just filled with donors and regular attendees. Many different stakeholders serve your mission through your events, and they all deserve your appreciation, including:

Volunteers
Donors
Attendees
Sponsors

Keep in mind that when you host virtual and hybrid events, this list of involved individuals also extends to those who engage online, participate in social sharing, contribute to a peer-to-peer campaign prior to event kick-off, and more.

Create segments of the different types of supporters who have made your event a success and be sure to craft thank you messages that resonate directly with each group of people.

One idea to get started is creating sponsor-branded gifts or gift baskets. This provides marketing attention to your sponsors and shows appreciation for your attendees at the same time.

2. Write Appreciation Letters

When individuals sign up for your event, they provide your team with some personal information, such as their name, address, email, and more. You can leverage this personal information to write individualized letters showing your appreciation for your supporters.

Try adding some additional information about the part that the supporter played in your event to make the most of this letter. For instance, your appreciation letter may look something like this:

Hi Vin,

Thank you so much for volunteering at the annual Plant a Tree golf tournament. Your generous contribution of time helped host a record number of golfers and raise over $50,000 for the cause!

This letter calls the supporter out by name, names the event they participated in, discusses what that participation entailed, and mentions the impact of that contribution, creating a personal experience for the reader.

You may choose to send these letters either digitally or via direct mail. You may even decide to do both! If you choose to show your appreciation over both platforms, be sure to differentiate the message so that each provides a unique opportunity for your supporters.

3. Shout Out Your Sponsors

If you have sponsors for your event, don’t overlook them in your appreciation efforts. Sponsors may be individuals, but they are more often corporations showing support for your organization. They may show this support in the format of financial gifts, in-kind contributions, media, or employee giving.

During your event, be sure to give recognition to your sponsors who helped make the event possible. You may shout out some of your sponsors before a keynote speaker or simply show off the logos in your event decor. You could also mention the sponsor organization in social media posts as another avenue for engagement or on the event website. Either way, be sure to recognize these important players front-and-center at your event to show your appreciation for their contributions.

4. Ask for Feedback

In addition to saying a simple “thank you” to your supporters, you can also show them how much you appreciate and value their input by asking them for feedback about the event. When you collect this feedback and make changes accordingly, you will accomplish two things:

You’ll show supporters that you care about their input and their opinions.
You’ll make your event better and resonate more effectively with your audience.

Send out surveys to your event attendees and volunteers, asking for their opinions about the event activities, venue, food, and more. Be sure to ask them both what their favorite part of the event was as well as opportunities for improvement.

5. Call Attendees

One method of appreciation that is often overlooked is the power of a phone call. While emails can be archived and letters thrown away, a phone conversation has the ability to set your organization apart.

Calling your attendees allows you to have a personalized conversation with them, thanking them for their specific involvement. During the call, explain the impact that the supporter had on your campaign and your overall mission so that they know the value of their contributions. This is also a great time to gather important feedback about the event from attendees.

If you have many attendees to call and various staff members ready to make those calls, create a general script that the caller can follow for the conversation. The script is primarily a guide to making sure callers hit all important points, but the conversation itself should be very personal. Ask callers to review details about the supporter they’re calling in their donor database before dialing to create a personalized experience.

Conclusion

Hosting events takes a lot of effort. After the event ends, it can be tempting just to take a deep breath and relax a bit. However, we urge nonprofits like yours not to stop pushing just yet. Taking the extra step to prioritize appreciation after your event ends will help you develop relationships, amplify retention, and maximize future engagements.

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