Event season is upon us, and many non-profits are planning events from breakfasts to art auctions in order to get noticed—and get funded.
It’s always fun to learn from the best. That’s why we turned to Shanon Doolittle (@sldoolittle) for some insight and inspiration.
Shanon is in charge of Group Health Foundation’s Gift of Health Gala, one of the Northwest’s most successful fundraising events. The name of the event is always the Gift of Health Gala, but she changes up the theme each year.
In 2010, it was ‘Journey to the Emerald City’.
In 2011, it was ’10! A Disco Inferno’.
In 2012, you’ll have to wait for it. But it’ll be just as awesome. Fresh and fun…yet still the Gift of Health Gala.
“Approach your event as its own brand. You can’t build equity or supporter loyalty if you confuse supporters each year with a name change or a completely different event experience. The name of the game is making it easy for your donors to identify your event and cause. A consistent name does that. And if you really want to get strategic-licious, hold the event on the same day every year (second Saturday of October for example). Donors will then know to save the date way before you send it.”
- Keep the same name and logo each year so funders and donors can remember your event, and hopefully your organization as well. Never forget: your event reflects who you are as an organization.
- When you’re planning your fundraiser, decide what actions you want your donors and funders to take. Donate money? Volunteer? What’s the ripple effect you want from the event, ultimately? Make the event match your goals. (Sounds like a ‘no duh’ but staggering how often this doesn’t happen.)
- Keep it simple. Attendees want to relax and enjoy themselves at your event, not try to figure out what it is exactly your organization does. That should be apparent from the brand of the event. Definitely change the theme to make it fun, but keep in mind the event should be as consistent as you are.
What suggestions do you have for successful events?