3 Ways to Up Retention for Your Next Nonprofit Event

It’s no surprise that today’s charity events face stiff competition. Nonprofit events are competing against each other, as well as social awareness campaigns, global campaigns, and more. For nonprofit leaders, this means figuring out how to establish lifelong donors and building relationships with supporters that last year-over-year.

Growing retention for nonprofit events can be difficult, especially when there are so many other choices for supporters. Here are three ways innovative nonprofit leaders can up retention for their next charity event:

1. Make your event a not-to-be-missed affair

The best way to ensure people are lining up to attend your next charity event is to make it a must-attend affair. This means going above and beyond to ensure your attendees have an amazing time, and not just at the actual event.

Think about your pre-event processes. Was registration easy? Did your team send too many (or too few) informational emails? How many attendees have registered multiple years in a row?  

All of these questions are important when judging if your event — whether it be a gala, run/walk,  year-end party, or golf event — is ‘must-attend’ or not, but there are some event-specific questions you should also ask:

For run/walks and other peer-to-peer (P2P) events:

  • What makes this event stand out from other competing events?
  • Why should people chose to attend this run/walk over the other 5 run/walks happening the same day?
  • Do attendees know enough about our nonprofit mission and values to understand the impact they’re making by attending or donating to the cause?
  • Does our registration fee fit with the size and scope of the event?
  • Is it easy for attendees to bring friends or add-on additional registrations to their party?
  • Have we allowed our attendees to easily share information about the event with their friends via social media?

For charity auctions and galas:

  • Do the demographics of our donor list support the types of auction items we have available?
  • Does the size of our event make sense with the size and scope of our auction list?
  • Can attendees engage with and bid on the auction items before or after the actual event?
  • Is the cadence of our charity auction lagging? Are people ever bored? What about overwhelmed?

Ask the above questions amongst your team to understand if you’re hosting a must-attend event.

2. Stay on top of follow-ups and thank you’s

Attendees enjoy feeling as though they’re valued and appreciated, and this is especially so after a nonprofit event that most likely involved volunteered time and in-person or online donations.

If your team goes above and beyond after the event concludes and the party balloons are put away, many supporters will feel highly valued and want to continue to attend your events in the future.

You can get creative with your follow-ups and thank you’s by:

  • Leveraging crowd-sourced content such as photos and videos on social media and sharing with attendees to remind them of your exciting event.
  • Sending follow-up emails to attendees with multiple dynamic fields (above just First Name) for a more personalized touch.
  • Updating your website with new content such as how much your charity raised, photos from the event, and a thank-you message to all supporters.
  • Reaching out personally to high-profile donors and supporters thanking them for their support, and perhaps even sending a thank you gift or token of your appreciation.

3. Begin registration for your next event today

A sure-fire way to increase retention for your next charity event is to make it as easy as possible for your current attendees to sign up again for next year. This means eliminating any barriers to entry.

  • Include signs all over your current event with the time and date of your next event so people have a sense of when it is.
  • As people are leaving, or towards the end of your event, have employees walk around with iPads to register people for next year.
  • If you’re using a holistic event management platform, their payment information is already saved in their profile, making it even easier for them to simply say yes to attending next year.

Additionally, your team should update your website with the new event information as soon as your current event starts. That way, if people not in attendance see something on a social feed from an attendee, they can easily click and see when the next event is in that moment.

Finally, include a link to register for your next event to every single piece of follow up content your team sends out, and make sure they can quickly and easily reserve their tickets. This means every email, postcard, and social post.

Increase retention with the right solutions

Nonprofit event management has followed in the footsteps of many other industries and become a tech-first environment. In order for your events to stand out from the crowd, your team must have the right solutions in place to create a seamless attendee experience. This will ensure your supporters want to come back year after year.

While technology is important, so is sharing your value and mission with your event attendees. Make sure everyone involved knows why they are there and how their presence is impacting your organization. This emotional connection is extremely strong and will definitely forge lifelong connections with supporters.

About the author

Josh Meyer

Josh Meyer

Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for OneCause. Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.

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