The October 7, 2010 Chronicle on Philanthropy reported on a survey taken of donors attending fundraising events. Their reasons for attending were perhaps surprising.
Here’s a hint: it wasn’t because of the celebrity headlining the event. On the other hand, the big 3 included the following:
1. Make sure I have a personal connection to the cause (or help me develop one). There’s nothing like being personally invested in the cause to get me to attend an event. Each year the Global Orphan Project hosts what they call their “Big Event.” What is the secret to their success? Many of the attendees have gone on mission trips. They become passionate attenders and passionate inviters.
2. Make sure I have a personal invite. In the survey language, the Chronicle reported it as having a “friend on the committee.” I think it is actually more simple. Those direct mail invites are fine, and the group emails get the word out, but there’s nothing like a personal phone call or a personal email. I still remember making a phone call to a potential donor. Their response? “Because you took the time to call, I will be there….”
3. Networking capability. The survey noted that networking or “dating potential” as another big reason to attend. I’ll set aside the dating question and focus on networking. Think of all the networking groups: Accelerant, Convene, Chambers, etc. They all are set up to increase the number of relationships that I have. We host one event where we do nothing more than tell people that “really cool people are going to be there who will be just like them.” It is our easiest event to get people to attend.
The basic message of each of these survey points is pretty simple. Make sure you think about the event in terms of how it can benefit the donor. It’s not all about your show.
William F. High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Christian Community Foundation (www.servantchristian.com). Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.