You probably know that lots of fundraising can happen in a social environment.
Conversations that happen socially can help you plot a path to an important funder, government official or community leader. We have always found that small social events are wonderful tools for gaining visibility and opening doors to new potential supporters.
It’s the casual conversation, often accompanied by a beverage, that can reveal so much about a donor’s personal enthusiasm for your organization’s work.
What’s more, you have the chance to find out their donor story – why do they care so much? We all know that hearing donors share their feelings is an important step toward a closer relationship.
Small socials: The art of “schmoozing” for your cause.
You can cover so very much ground at a Porch Party.
But be sure you master your fundraising “soft skills.”
For example, you want to be able to introduce people to each other properly, how to listen, and how to be gracious and cordial.
When we talk about cultivating relationships, this is how we do it – one-on-one conversations that are all about the donor, not about you.
Porch Parties are the Best.
Pulling donors or new prospects together socially is a wonderful strategy for fundraising.
These types of events are easy to pull off. They “feel” attractive to donors because they are casual and informal.
And if the weather is cold, then consider a Fireside Party, or something that feels informal and fun.
What Exactly is a Porch Party?
It’s a small, informal gathering of people who are current or prospective donors. It’s a wonderful way to open doors to new prospects – without being pushy.
You can also add community leaders, elected officials, current and former board members, and major donors to the mix. When you and your team work the room, you are able to move your cause forward, because you are in front of key influencers who probably all talk to each other about important community issues.
Great for Introducing New Prospects To Your Cause
One thing we like about Porch Parties is that they are lovely formats for meeting new people who might turn into donors or supporters.
You can invite new potential prospects to a casual, fun-feeling social event to introduce them to your cause – and find out why they are interested.
It could be the beginning of a long and happy relationship!
Top 5 Secrets to Make Porch Parties a Winner Every Time
1. Make sure the invitation is interesting.
The best people to host Porch Parties are board members or major supporters of your organization.
Your core leaders and supporters are the ones to “invite” others in the community to come find out a bit about your organization.
You want someone who has the clout or social reach to attract people in.
Tip: It’s also a draw if you can have the event at someone’s home that people are interested in seeing.
2. Know who will be attending, and plan on who you want to meet.
So – you have all these wonderful people gathered together. What’s next? You can’t just huddle in the corner!
You have to work the room.
You need to meet every single person in attendance.
Ask them why they are here? How did they come to be interested in your cause?
Every donor or potential donor has a story they are dying to share with you. That’s where the conversation comes from.
But here’s a big secret – you need to triage the guest list.
Tip: Decide ahead of time who the most important people are. And focus on them first.
3. Don’t forget Name Tags.
Here’s an often-forgotten Porch Party tool.
If you are the nonprofit representative – you are the person who, above all, wants to know exactly WHO is in the room.
You have to have name tags, so you can work the room properly.
You may not know everyone’s face – so you really need their names.
Tip: Don’t let guests fill out their own name tag. Instead – have someone at the door, greeting guests, and writing name tags in easy-to-read, large block letters.
4. Someone has to be clearly in charge.
Yes, you’ll have social time on the porch for an hour or so.
And then you’ll go inside perhaps for a short program or conversation about your organization.
But be clear about what’s happening when. Be ready to cut off speakers if they go on too long.
Be the director of the event.
Tip: Make sure things happen when they need to. Don’t leave anything to chance!
5. Make your guests comfortable, and be sure they enjoy themselves.
A social event is not about you. Instead, it’s about your guests.
For that reason, it’s important to make sure they are having an enjoyable experience.
Also, be sure they have the opportunity to meet each other. To accomplish that, you can even have board members stationed around the room to serve as hosts or hostesses.
Small Socials like Porch Parties are absolutely excellent fundraising tools.
Remember to work the room, triage the guest list, and make your guests comfortable.
Then you’ll be on your way to developing a core group of supporters who are die-hard fans and donors.