Have you ever left a major donor appreciation event with the vague feeling that something was missing?
When we host get-togethers without setting aside time to formally say thank you and educate our donors, we leave them wondering, “What was that all about?”
This missed opportunity, I suspect, is rooted in our fear of being perceived as “always asking.”
I am not suggesting that you ask for money at your donor appreciation event. No, I’m suggesting that you intentionally thank, educate, and inform so that when you do ask, the answer is yes!
Why would busy donors respond to a charitable organization’s invitation if they didn’t expect to hear something about the organization and its work? I mean, wouldn’t they prefer to visit their grandkids or have dinner with close friends?
By accepting the invitation, donors tacitly agree to learn more, understand more, and… maybe…be inspired to give more, someday.
To help you create a results-oriented donor event, here are four steps I’ve effectively taken, which I believe you will find helpful:
Review the RSVP List and Assign Connections
If you’ve included prospects on your guest list, ask seasoned committee members to greet them and then join their table so everyone feels part of the donor family from the beginning.
Start at the Front Door
Donor parties often include guests whose only connection to each other is their love for your philanthropy. Station two or three people at the event entrance to say welcome and to make introductions.
Write Your Program (Yikes!)
Yes, about 45 minutes into the party, take 15 minutes to explain why you’ve gathered in the first place! Say thank you, we need you, here’s what you’ve helped us accomplish, and we need you to continue your support.
Let someone else choose the flowers and food so you have time to create a timeline and, at a minimum, bulleted remarks.
Intentionally Say Good-bye
Ideally, donors don’t wander out of the venue, unnoticed. Instead, ask a couple committee members to staff the exit, again saying, “Thank you. We really appreciate your coming today.”
“Never Tire of Hearing Thank You”
Recently, a leader in our philanthropic community told me, “Donors never get tired of being thanked and educated.”
Her comment simply echoes what we all learned from Maslow’s hierarchy: Right after we’re fed and sheltered, we start looking for appreciation!
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