How to Promote a Non-Profit Event
Non-profit organizations like to use the special event to raise money. For example, Susan G Komen uses the Race for the Cure® to get donations. The non-profit events are very effective at raising money because they get donors personally involved. It’s much more effective than just sending a letter asking for money. And while the national organizations use the web effectively to promote their events, I’ve found that local non-profits tend not to use the web much to promote these event. I’m not going to go into the why here, but instead focus on the how.
Flicker photo courtesy by cliff1066™
Here’s a very simple formula for promoting your local, non-profit event. Just understand that using this formula will have more impact on next year’s event than this year’s. So use this now for your upcoming event to set up a platform for better fundraising next year.
Step 1: Set up a Website
Don’t just add a page to your current website. Give your event its own website with a keyword-rich domain name. For example, for several years the Humane Society of Central Texas has used the Heart of Texas Wine and Food Festival to raise money. A page for the event is buried on the website, and a poorly constructed page at that. You would never guess from that page that more that 1200 people attend the Festival each year. It’s one of the largest wine festivals in Texas. Using WordPress, last week they began the process of setting up a separate website for the festival: www.WacoWineFestival.com, using the most frequently search keywords in the domain name. Next they will add pictures, videos, articles, and links.
A separate website for the event gives it greater importance for potential attendees and search engines. Also, it’s easier to update. Trying to get pages added or changed on a non-profit’s website can sometimes be trickier than budget talks between Democrats and Republicans. And sometimes local non-profits web presence is buried in their national organization’s website, such as local chapters of the American Cancer Society.
Step 2: Set up a Facebook Page
It’s likely more than half of of a non-profit’s potential donors have a Facebook account. It would be silly not to set up a Facebook page and post weekly, or even daily, updates on the event, frequently linking to content on the event’s website.
Step 3: Post as a Facebook Event
When a Facebook page has been set up, the non-profit can then Create a Facebook Event for your fund-raising event. Once the event has been created, it can posted it to the Page’s status updates. Fans can sign up and invite friends. If the administrator of the event’s Facebook page has a personal profile, then can then invite all their friends to the event and encourage their friends to invite friends.
Step 4: Sell Tickets on Eventbrite
Eventbrite makes it easy to sell event tickets online. Paypal has a function that allows businesses and non-profits to sell online also, but it’s a little clunkier. Eventbrite lets a non-profit create a special page for the event in which you can share lots of information about the event, including pictures and video. With Eventbrite there is no reason for a non-profit not to sell tickets to its event on line.
Step 5: Collect Attendees Email Addresses
Put a sign-up sheet at the event registration table and collect everyone’s email address. On the form, print, “You may receive updates and offers for future events.” I’ve found that non-profits generally don’t like to ask for email addresses. Ask. Event attendees can just say no if they don’t want to provide it. No harm, no foul.
Step 6: Send Emails to the Email Addresses
Take the list of email addresses collected at the event and use a service like MailChimp to send email updates to your attendees. MailChimp has a free account for up to 2000 email addresses and 12,000 emails per month. Import all those email addresses into MailChimp and then begin sending emails.
1. Send an email the week after the event, thanking attendees for making the event a success.
2. Send an email quarterly for the next three quarters with a preview of the next event.
3. In the quarter leading up to the next event, send monthly emails for the first two months.
4. In the month prior to the event, send weekly emails.
5. In the week prior to the event, send daily emails.
Always be selling tickets!
Step 7: Take photos and Videos
And lots of them! Post them on that special website to promote next year’s event. Show how fun and exciting your event is.
Step 8: Repeat Every 12 Months
I’ve served on the boards of non-profits and volunteered for many non-profit events. Inexplicably, most seem to avoid using the above system to promote an event, sticking with traditional methods that have been used for years. Times have changed, and so should these events. Use the simple formula above to market your non-profit event for better attendance, more donor involvement and easier fundraising.