A recent fundraiser I attended was disguised as a panel. 

An engaging, informative, inspiring panel that was such a draw on its own. At the conclusion of the panel, they introduced quickly the board, the leaders of the organization (one of which participated on the panel), and then they shared about the fundraising initiative.

I was so much more inclined to consider reciprocating via donation to the organization because of the value of the event. The information presented by the panel was so useful to my work and efficient use of time. How could I not want to give back to say ‘thank you’?

The fundraising organization that held this event may not have realized how perfectly this functioned as a bridge specifically between new donors and their work, but it sure was.

Build Bridges to New Supporters & Convince Existing Partners

Your fundraiser ticket sales are lackluster. Why?

Your mission is vital, your work proven – what gives?

When faced with many invitations to fundraising events, it’s a tough sell to reach potential attendees who don’t know your work and mission.

And it’s frustrating when current supporters are slow to respond.

Consider offering more to demonstrate the value of attending your event – let’s talk about how to up the ante (not a financial incentive, we’re not quite to the point of people so wearied with attending galas and luncheons that we’re bribing attendees… yet).

Your attendees are more likely to purchase tickets AND attend if your event offers a draw beyond your mission: enticing speaker or headliner, network-building opportunities, a unique activity, a great venue – and then make your messaging clear about those benefits. 

If attendance from current supporters and likely attendees is important to you, not simply a donation before the event without their attendance, you’re also welcome to this strategy session (these are topics we cover with leadership in our PR Consult sessions)

So what do you do if ticket sales to your fundraiser are lackluster? What do you offer if your program is not set up in a way that tries to offers value to attendees?

Let’s discuss some ways to answer that unasked, unconscious question from registrants, ‘what’s in it for me?’

8 Ideas to Up Your Attendee Value and Promote Registration

  1. Video captures attention more than any other medium available, short of a singing telegram. And while a video shoot and editor and $5k budget is nice, you can leverage video with your phone camera, 30 minutes, and a $20 lapel mic from Amazon (actually more important than any other aspect of your video – don’t skip this part. If you have poor audio, it’s almost better to not do video.)

    Plug your lapel mic into your phone, make sure you’re standing without a window behind you (window in front of you should look great), and tell me why your event is worth attending.

    In 35 seconds, describe the people you help at your org, then how I can support you. Or tell me about the great speaker or panel you’re featuring at your event and how to register. And then do it twice a week until you run out of tickets to sell.

  2. Networking: provide pre-printed namebadges with organization – a must!

  3. Describe who will be in the room: “Join Dallas entrepreneurs and leaders for…”

    Invite sponsors to include in-kind donations, and partner with organizations that would want to be in front of your donors. What types of sponsors? This is a fun field called ‘psychographics’ – the lifestyle preferences of a demographic. If your best-fit donors dine at X restaurant, ask them if they’d like to partner with you. Or X retail shop, X activity location (fine gun range, archery would be fun, fencing…), X chocolatier, X vehicle dealership to give free quick drives onsite).

  4. Great speaker or panel: who do you have currently slated in your program? What unique contribution or story do they have to tell? Please don’t simply offer a bio – too easy to skim and miss the value of your speakers! Offer a striking quote, or an anecdote from their work or life. Did they start a company? Lead in an innovative initiative?

  5. Venue: are you hosting your event somewhere unique? Someone’s lovely home? Fun? Different? Historical? Promote the features of your venue with a vivid description and photography.

  6. What will attendees learn? If by attending, I’ll learn more about how to help solve a social issue, learn about new collaborations you’ve leveraged work in your work, about new strategies that you’ve implemented this year, by all means, tell me in your event promotion! This is not the time to be quiet about your successes or even your failings. Entice with transparency, with leadership – be remarkable.

  7. Activity: don’t tune me out here, but challenge yourself to make your gala the most memorable of event season. Could you hold a dance contest? Firepit s’mores on the patio? A DJ and a round of Guess That Tune? Don’t be afraid to take the chance to offer guests something memorable and have fun. Make people smile. And if you ask your colleagues for lots of opinions, be prepared to have your brave ideas giggled at – stand strong and do something innovative! How much money do you want to on the table? We believe in your creativity!

  8. ⏳ If you’re 8 weeks or less before your event, you likely have more to offer than you’re aware of, and don’t need to run yourself ragged trying to revamp your event. While adding program features may be possible, but consider reframing your speakers, adding a single fun element, or leverage video to ask more effectively.

    Electronic media (take advantage of electronic media – update your event registration page and invite, share new program additions, continue adjusting as you add new content or reframe the program. No one will mind!)


Best of luck!

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