Knowing your donors and how to engage with them is the key to planning a successful fundraising event. Whether it’s a traditionally seated gala or a casino night for your young professional’s committee, knowing who is in the room will enable you to work with them towards success.

Before the event, confirm your objectives and how the event’s success will be measured – are you focusing on a specific fundraising goal, expanding your network or educating people on your mission? Once this is determined, it’s now time to enlist the help of your board members, but before diving into the planning stages, begin by ensuring that they are up to date with the cause and have all the tools and materials they need to reach out to guests and potential donors. One easy way of doing this is creating a shared file with the latest numbers and outlines of your initiatives, as well as template outreach emails. Your board members will be the face of your organization to many of the attendees and providing them with the right material will set them up to succeed. From here, determine clear lines of accountability for each person; who will be responsible for bringing in friends and business partners and who will respond better to being appointed specific tasks? Establishing these individual goals will allow for greater transparency and efficiency throughout the planning process.

During the event, you have a captive audience comprised of longtime supporters as well as people who are hearing about the cause for the first time. Start by reminding everyone of the cause and your organization’s mission, as that is ultimately the reason why they are all gathered. For loyal contributors speak to the great work that has been done with their help and for those who came solely under an obligation to a friend or colleague, talk about the future of your organization and their place in it. Storytelling will be your greatest asset in bringing these two groups together; fundraising events often feel so far removed from the cause, and quality visual materials and first-hand accounts will provide your guests with a tangible value proposition. Figures and statistics are necessary for showing them that you can manage their investment but stories will enable them to become emotionally invested.

After the event, you will have the opportunity to turn your guests from one time attendees to long-term donors. Follow up individually with everyone that attended with an email either directly from your executive team or from the board member who invited them, thanking them for their involvement and providing them with all the information they will need to continue supporting your organization. For those that donated, be sure to keep them updated on how their donation is being used, through photos or site visits when possible, further reassuring them that their donation is in good hands.

Events are a perfect way to connect with donors old and new to springboard new projects and continue the vital work of your organization. In knowing your donors, from the loyal board member to the couple that was invited that day, you will be adding to the number of people who will vouch for your cause in the years and events to come.

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture, and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.