Tips from Charity Fundraising!

After months of hard work, lots of planning and perhaps even some lost sleep, your charity auction event is complete.  Your guests leave fulfilled and happy, with the memory of a pleasant evening and perhaps a unique auction item.  However, as the event host, your work is not yet complete and your final task is a critical one.

A Most Important Communication

Though you may think that the invite to your charity fundraiser is the most critical piece of communication you’ll write to your donors, it’s actually lower on the list than you might think.  The follow-up communication you write to your donor base and your board should provide warm appreciation for their support, a snapshot of the event and an overview of goals and financials.   An improperly constructed follow-up can tarnish an otherwise successful event and lower repeat guests at your events in the future.  Michael Gordon, Fundraising Professional at Charity Fundraising shares his thoughts on executing a proper follow-up communication post event.

Be Timely:  Etiquette states that 48 hours is the proper turn-around time for a thank you letter.  Though 48 hours doesn’t seem like much time, some pre-planning can expedite this process and impress your donor base.  Drafting your thank you letter in advance of the event and then simply “filling in the blanks” post event can help.  Additionally, be sure to have your database updated with current contact information for each of your guests.  Remember that not all of your donor base will choose to attend your event, but they do care about your cause.  It is acceptable to send this post-event communication to your entire donor base and even some specially selected prospects.  Note that a mailed thank you letter is still the accepted format despite the use of email and social media communication.  However, a broad thank you using social media networks is acceptable after a mailed than you letter has been sent.

A Heartfelt Thanks:  Be sure to begin your note with a heartfelt thanks to your guests and donors.  Thanking your guests for attending, donating and introducing new friends to your organization are just a few of the ways donors may choose to participate with your organization.  Additionally, if there are any large donations or corporate sponsors, this may be an additional place to recognize their efforts.

Accurate and Thorough Reporting:  Though your guests, donors and your board will want to see the results of your event, it’s important not to provide too much information.  Keep your reporting thorough yet simple and be sure to pair the results with your initial fundraising goals.  For example, if your goal was to raise $10,000, remind your donors of that goal and report that you raised $15,000.  Here is a sampling of data you may want to include:

– Attendance
– # of Donations and # of Bids
– Highest Bid
– Total # of dollars collected
– Your board may want to see the total # of dollars spent vs. the total # of dollars collected, but this data is not something you may want to disclose to your entire donor base. Additionally, your board may require key auction metrics that include gross and net revenue, percentage of items sold and a listing of the items that did not sell.

Testimonials from the event:  Keep a log of positive comments from your fundraising events.  Include a particularly good comment from a guest.  Additionally, these event testimonials can be used in your marketing literature for upcoming events.