Many people worry about how to invite donors to an event or Porch Party.
In fundraising, we’re often staging small cultivation or door-opening events – and these types of social gatherings can be a key tool for major gift fundraisers.
However, one of our biggest challenges revolves around getting our hoped-for attendees to actually attend.
When you want to invite donors to an event, you want to be sure that they will “notice’ the invitation in the sea of other invitations they receive.
Why we like small social events like Porch Parties.
Staging a porch party or small social is a terrific way to open the door and get in front of key philanthropists in your community.
Equally important, small socials can also help you connect with current important donors and nurture their relationship with your cause.
We need to remember that so much in fundraising takes place at social events, where we are having short discovery conversations with potential donors.
Small events also offer the opportunity for strategic conversations with other donors who are helping you craft strategies to reach key philanthropists.
Perhaps it’s a get-to-know-you, small door-opener event. Or it could be a larger fundraising event. Whatever type of event you are staging. But above all, you want to get the right people in the door.
How to Invite Donors to an Event so They Will Actually Attend.
What kind of process do you need to invite donors to an event, so that they will take notice of the invitation and actually attend?
1. Make the invitation and event seem interesting.
Our number one tip is to make the invitation feel interesting and inviting.
It’s all about how you “package” your event – who are the hosts? Who is the invitation coming from? Where is the event? Does it “feel” like it could be interesting or fun?
After all, the people you are inviting probably have many social invitations. Not to mention, they are usually quite busy. So how you approach them with the invitation can either create interest or turn them off.
This is one of the reasons we like to host “parties” instead of “events.”
Somehow the notion of a Porch Party, for example, just feels more fun and casual.
While your purpose for the event is business, the actual experience for guests will actually be part social and part business.
Your job is to make sure they enjoy the social time as well as the short program.
2. Make sure the invitation comes from a person of note when inviting donors to an event.
Who is doing the inviting really matters. Moreover, how you frame the invitation also really matters. Who can get your guests’ attention? Who will they respond to?
First, is this person well-known? For example, do your invitees know the person doing the inviting, or know who they are? Would your donors respond to this person?
You want someone who has the clout or social reach to attract people in.
Especially if you hope to reach major donors or community leaders to your event, then make sure the invitation comes from a board member, a donor, or someone they know of and respect.
We think that the best people to send the invitation are trustees or major supporters of your organization.
These core leaders and supporters are the ones to “invite” others in the community to come and find out a bit about your cause.
Tip: If the invitation comes from a special donor or well-known leader in the community, then it will be more appealing to potential attendees.
3. Make the event’s location feel special and even exclusive.
The location of the event matters, too. If you can, try to have your event at a location that people want to see.
When you have an interesting location – somewhere people want to visit – it makes the event more appealing.
Perhaps you have a board member with an interesting (or grand) home who will host a small social or porch party. Perhaps you can host it at a new building or outdoor space in your city – a place that people have not yet visited.
The location sets up the environment for your event. It can be stiff and formal — or welcoming and relaxed.
We prefer events in someone’s home. The ambience is relaxed and social, and that’s what you are after.
Bottom Line: How to invite donors so they will actually attend:
Make the event feel appealing, make sure the right person sends out the invitation, and have the event at an interesting place.