We learned many pandemic event lessons over the past 16-months. The pandemic taught us we need to continuously look outside the box when it comes to event-based fundraising for nonprofits. Our top takeaways of lessons learned are…
LESSON #1: KEEP INNOVATING EVENTS
The first of our pandemic event lessons was the pandemic forced nonprofits to use technology and new fundraising channels more than ever. Older donor’s fear of technology has held nonprofits back from embracing technology to its full fundraising capacity. During the pandemic, development teams worked 1:1 with older donors to ensure they were comfortable and to continue their support in the emerging tech world. Mobile bidding services such as Auctria and Greater Giving introduced new services to adapt to virtual fundraising activities.
LESSON #2: HYBRID EVENT FUNDRAISING
Nonprofits we have spoken to recently agree that relying on virtual fundraising events is not sustainable for the long haul. Donors want the in-person connection with the organization they missed in 2020 and the first part of 2021. Innovating tools such as mobile bidding platforms will allow for hybrid event fundraising and for nonprofits to continue to adapt to fundraising in moments of crisis. With embracing mobile bidding, nonprofits open their auctions to an unlimited reach of donors and a more diverse audience. Especially to reach donors who have moved out of the area and cannot physically join their events. Hybrid fundraising allows for donations from new donors, allows new donors to participate without being physically present, and grows organizations’ email lists.
LESSON #3: DONOR ENGAGEMENT
The pandemic taught us that donors gave and we should not be afraid to ask for their financial support, no matter the circumstances. The pandemic also taught us that donor engagement is more important than ever. That donors want to be informed on what an organization is doing to achieve its mission. It taught us you can build relationships virtually and donors appreciate the time and attention. Even though it may not be the time for a donor to give, retaining them for the long haul with communication is critical. Pandemic or not, it is imperative for an organization to take time to analyze, and fine-tune the tools its donors like to be communicated with.
LESSON #4: STORYTELLING MATTERS
Nonprofits know storytelling around their impact and mission matters. Storytelling engages and inspires donors to support the nonprofit mission. The pandemic pushed nonprofits to reinvent how storytelling occurs. Virtual events forced nonprofits to create 2 – 3 minute story clips to highlight their impact and these clips are now evergreened for future use.
Nonprofits we spoke to understand more than ever that storytelling is a vehicle to fundraising and asks donors to take a journey to how their monetary contribution matters. Our biggest challenge with returning to in-person events is how to ensure storytelling continues. We cannot return to the pre-pandemic status quo having a talking head behind a podium talking to us – this will be a topic covered in a future blog.
ABOUT RUNDLES & ASSOCIATES EVENTS
Rundles & Associates Events is a Northern California-based full-service production and strategy agency that specializes in fundraising events for 501(c)3 nonprofits. Its founder, Angela Rundles has been recognized for her work in the community, including being named the 2017 Contra Costa County Women of the Year by California State Senator Bill Dodd. We strive to build events around Content, Community, and Connection.