Why Didn’t I Get Invited?
She was irritated. “My neighbor told me,” the caller said, “that she just received an invitation to your special event luncheon. Why didn’t I get one?”
I knew the caller well. She had served on the board of directors. Her past generosity had been significant.
What I didn’t know was the answer to her question: Why hadn’t she received an invitation?
(Fundraisers, by the way, are part secretary, part UN ambassador, and part Sherlock Holmes.)
After some asking around and reviewing various Excel spreadsheets, I learned that luncheon invitations were managed without staff involvement. A volunteer committee, which changed annually, distributed invitations, primarily through table hosts, who also changed annually.
This resulted in past donors not being invited because their friends had rolled off the event committee or the table host list.
As the new girl in town, I knew this had to be remedied quickly!
We immediately ordered additional invitations.
Our team exported all past major donors – regardless of their interest.
We also exported past board members, elected officials, and people who smiled broadly and made eye contact in the grocery aisle (well, not really).
We invited them all. The caller was happy. The event raised more money than ever before.
How to ensure this never happens to you
To ensure I never again received such a call, I implemented a simple strategy called the “Must Invite” list, which we updated annually and used for every event.
Literally, we “marked” names in our donor software so the notation was permanent. This ensured that staff turnover and volunteer committee changes didn’t put us at risk for another call from a once faithful friend, asking, “Why didn’t I get invited?”
This strategy, conceived during a crisis, worked for years!
Unexpected Positive Impact
By expanding the invitation list, we also experienced unexpected positive outcomes such as
- increased awareness
- increased incremental giving from people who didn’t attend the event
- increased stickiness to the organization
- increased respect for the staff who “must be working so hard to do all of those events,” and
- increased over-all gross revenue.
Try it today
Create a must invite list of people who should always be invited because of what they’ve done, what they could do, or what they are doing. No one is ever offended by receiving too many invitations.
Sure, a few complained…but usually with a smile.
PS: Here’s a tip – Keep your design and printing costs in line, or this strategy could have an unintended expense impact as well.
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