Tips for Successful Nonprofit Event Promotion

 

Let’s be honest, fundraising events can be great for your organization, but they take a lot of time, energy and money. So, if you are going to put in the effort, you want to make sure it’s a success!

The first hurdle to a successful event is attendance. The primary reason nonprofit events have low attendance is that the organization does too little, too late in regards to promoting the event. The key is to promote early and often, through a variety of channels.

Timing

The type of event you are hosting will heavily influence your timing. Is it a high-commitment that requires purchasing a ticket, travel or something you know your audiences will need to plan around or is it a simple casual event that they can attend at their convenience?

 

Here are a few rough guidelines for when to start your promotion:

  • 3 months out = too long – people will forget
  • 2 weeks = too short – you won’t have enough time time to get the word out properly and get on your audiences calendars
  • 4 – 6 weeks = the amount of time prior to the event that tickets typically go on sale, according to Laura Huddle from Eventbrite.

 

Components of an Integrated Event Marketing Campaign

There is no magic formula for the perfect event marketing campaign. The appropriate marketing plan for your event will depend on a variety of factors: goals, timing, budget, target audience, and the tone and theme of the event.

Below, we’ve listed a few examples of possible strategies and tactics that you could use to promote your event. For each that you try, track it’s success to help you decide if you should implement that tactic again next time or make some tweaks.

 

Print

  • Save the Date postcard
  • Invitation and remit card
  • Ad or article in your newsletter
  • Ads or articles in related and partner publications
  • Small promo card for supporters to hand out (small, business card size piece that lists the details of the event and how to register)
  • Thank you cards
  • Flyers
  • Posters

 

Email Marketing

  • Save the Date
  • Invitation – Sent only to those who have not already registered (Send approximately every 1 to 2 weeks. Be sure to change your subject line each time.)
  • Thank you for registering
  • Reminder 1–3 days before the event
  • Thank you for attending & update on the outcome of the event

 

Facebook

  • Announcement / Save the Date posts
  • Regular posts (1–3 times/week, depending on timing)
    o   pictures
    o   videos
    o   performers
    o   VIPs
    o   auction items
    o   partners
    o   attendee stories
  • Create a Facebook event
  • Tag attendees, VIPs, and partners and encourage sharing
  • Continue to post after the event!
    o   pictures
    o   videos
    o   success stories
    o   thank yous

 

Twitter

  • Post daily
  • Reach out to influencers
  • Retweet and thank!
  • Use a Hashtag (keep it short – 6-8 characters)

 

Website

  • Set up page on your website
  • Highlight on your homepage
  • Separate microsite (if appropriate)
  • Posts on your blog (before & after the event)

 

Web Banners / Advertising

  • Banners or blog posts on sponsor websites
  • Google Ad Grants for nonprofits ($10,000/month in in-kind AdWords™ advertising)
  • Add your event to community calendars

 

Word of Mouth

  • Encourage your staff, volunteers and board to invite those from their network, whether that be via email, in-person or over the phone.
  • Phone calls to key attendees

 

PR / Media Relations

One of the best ways to build interest and support for your event is to get media coverage. Media coverage will build credibility for your event and reach a larger audiences base. If you’ve done your planning right, you will have a unique event that your audience cares about with clear goals to support your organization and its work…these components often lead to a newsworthy event.

  • Elements of a newsworthy event:
    o   Timeliness
    o   Prominence/Celebrity
    o   Proximity
    o   Significance/Impact
    o   Unusualness/Novelty
    o   Human Interest
    o   Conflict
  • Select media outlets that will reach your target audience.
  • Some tactics you can use to gain media cover include:
    o   PSA’s
    o   Press release and media kits (at least 30 days prior)
    o   Guerrilla marketing

 

Leverage Partnerships

  • Sponsorships
  • Vendors
  • Donors
  • Other nonprofits or collaborators
  • Give them the tools to promote your event

 

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Examples of Event Materials we created:

Jami Fassett

Jami Fassett

I am a brand strategist passionate about using my time, talent and 12 years of experience to help people and communities. That is why I started Up and Up Creative, to help nonprofits use the power of branding to reach more people, raise more money and do more good.

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