The discussion lately has involved in how do you grow your donorbase. In the blog, Is your event worth it, I suggest that 40% of your event attendees needed to be new. That has elicited some questions about “How do I get 40%?” or “Is 40% realistic?” or, my personal favorite “Are you crazy!?”
The answer to that last question is yes, yes I am. I am crazy about relationships, I am crazy about storytelling, I am crazy about the organizations I serve.
In a time when we have information in abundance, we understand that organizations loose 80% of their first time donors, and average organizations keep only 46% of their donors annually, you need to be getting prospective donors out to learn about your organization. One person cannot get the volume you need.
If you, your board, staff and leadership build relationships with those who understand and support your organization, it is only a few steps to achieving 40% of your event attendees are new to your organization. It is all about nourishing relationships and creating ambassadors.
Who is an Ambassador!
By definition, an ambassador is someone who acts as a representative or promoter for a specified activity. You have people who either love your organization or love your event. There may be some that fall into both categories. Regardless, these are your representatives and promoters, do not take them for granted! Remind them how wonderful the event is by sending them pictures of themselves at the event, have someone call and personally remind them of the event and maybe ask them if they want to participate (this is discussed further under “Empower them”).
Equip your Ambassador!
Make sure your ambassador knows when an event is, the cost, and the location as soon as possible. Then remind them regularly. Provide them with information that can be shared or they can direct people to. That can be an event on Facebook, a special landing page, a digital flyer or extra copies of a printed flyer.
Don’t forget to “Thank” ambassadors for their unpaid, yet valuable role. Sometimes they are the key to securing a sponsorship; or sometimes they sell a third of your tickets on there own, but people forget to track that. One of the most valuable tools you possess is the handwritten ‘Thank you’ note. Do not underuse it, especially with ambassadors.
Providing ambassadors with event pages, or flyers are great efforts, but be specific in your requests. Know who your ambassadors are and make a specific request. Ask them to personally invite at least 2 more people each. This is not different from making a financial ask, but probably more valuable. If you take this scenario into consideration: For the last 5 years you have held a gala. The event can handle 300, and you typically get about 250 people there. Of those 250, 80 have been to 3 of the last 5 galas. If you can get a large portion of those 80 to invite 2 more people, you almost have your 40% by using strategy and not a large expense.
This is how successful groups have done it for years through relationships.
PS – Don’t forget to use your natural leadership ability in your community. Make sure you Kiwanis or Rotary club knows about your events. Your faith organization knows about your event. If you have not joined a civic group like Rotary, Kiwanis or Ruritans yet, get involved.