Guide to Nonprofit Event Fundraising Marketing

As those in the nonprofit world realize, few things are as effective — or as time-consuming — as fundraising events. Fundraising events bring in big time donations and can have a huge impact on furthering an organization’s mission, but they can also consume resources. It’s important to have an effective plan in place in order to save time and execute a flawless fundraiser.

Unlike the lesson from “Field of Dreams,” just because an event is built, doesn’t mean that supporters will come or that donations will flood in. In order for it to be a success, the event needs to be marketed effectively before, during, and even after all of the guests have gone home. If not, the organization risks not only losing their investment on the event, but potential donations.

With this in mind, how should your nonprofit go about effectively marketing your next fundraiser? Below, we’ll explore best practices, tips, and tricks to help your nonprofit team attract the right guests, engage them in your fundraising, and continue the excitement long after the fundraiser wraps up.

Marketing in Advance of the Event: Create the Marketing Plan

From the high-energy planning period to the excitement of bringing so many of your supporters together in one place, fundraising events really are incredible. But to be successful, a comprehensive marketing plan is a must. You have to make sure guests know about the fundraiser and come in the door ready to donate! To keep it easy, we broke it down into 5 steps.

1. Leverage Your Donor Data

Before you begin marketing your fundraising event, you must first know who you’re marketing to. Take the time to look through your donor data to get a more holistic view of your donors, and pay close attention to:

  • Past event attendance
  • Giving history and frequency
  • Program or campaign interests
  • Previous communications

From there, your nonprofit can group your donors based on similarities to personalize your messaging at scale. A timely, personalized, and relevant message is more likely to win donors over than a generic email sent your entire donor base.

Here are a few ways to consider grouping your donors to help with communication:

  • Previous event attendance
  • Age range
  • Donation frequency or size
  • Engagement with your organization

Let’s see it put into practice!

“Peggy, thank you for being a loyal supporter of our mission. We appreciate your monthly donations toward our child advocacy fund. We know how important this cause is to you, so we wanted to personally invite you to our Annual Funds for Kids Gala. Proceeds from the silent auction, live auction, and fundraising appeal will go straight towards the child advocacy fund. The link to register can be found here [insert link].”

Equipped with the right data, you’re ready to take on steps 2-5!

2. Nail Down Your Event Messaging

Creating your pre-event messaging is a critical part of the planning process. It should not only build awareness, but anticipation. Here are our top tips:

  • Be clear and creative: Include all the relevant details of your event, including the time, location, how they can participate, and who/what the proceeds will benefit.
  • Include a call-to-action: Whether you want your supporter to register for the event, make a donation to kick off the fundraising, or share with their networks, have a clear call-to-action in all your event messaging.
  • Prioritize personalization: Using your donor data, tailor your communication in a way that feels genuine and relevant. It’s the best way to build deeper donor relationships and drive attendance!
  • Create FOMO: Ever heard of FOMO or Fear of Missing Out? Give donors a taste of what they can expect from your event, so they know they won’t want to miss out (amazing guest performance, must-have auction item, new milestone for your organization).
  • Focus on impact: Donors want to see how their support is making a difference in the world. Incorporate impact statements, real-life stories of beneficiaries of your cause, and images of your mission at work throughout your messaging. Demonstrating impact will be key to driving attendance.

Nailing down your messaging will help save you time, keep your marketing consistent, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

3. Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Approach

When creating your marketing strategy, consider diversifying the channels you’re promoting on and prioritizing the right ones to drive event attendance. Let’s dive into a few top channels for engagement.


Use your website homepage as a place to promote your fundraising events and reach donors who are already inclined to give to your cause. Be sure to include:

  • A welcome video
  • Relevant event information
  • A link to register
  • Photos from past events

Social Media

Take advantage of this popular platform to put your cause and your ask out there. This low-cost marketing channel helps you expand your reach to as many supporters as possible. Here are a few keys to success:

  • Focus on storytelling
  • Use your event hashtag
  • Tag other influential supporters
  • Ask people to share
  • Be consistent

Don’t forget to go beyond your own organization’s social media accounts! Ask employees, partners, volunteers, and other stakeholders to share on their personal pages as well. The further your campaign goes, the higher your return.


Leverage your internal donor base to market your next fundraising event via email. It’s tried and true! For a greater chance at success, be sure to have an engaging subject line and use persuasive messaging. Here’s our formula for success:

  • Email 1: Educate donors on what you’re looking for.
  • Email 2: Focus on the impact of your mission.
  • Email 3: Create anticipation and FOMO.

Traditional Advertising

Many nonprofits still find success through traditional advertising methods, including:

  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • Flyers
  • Radio or TV slots

Why is traditional media still important? One key component is trust! Consumers still trust what they read in print. Another reason is because the internet and social media are crowded – it’s easy for your message to get lost. Leaning into traditional advertising could be the secret component to your organization’s success.

The marketing rule of 7’s states that a potential consumer must see a message at least 7 times before they’ll be provoked to take action.

By diversifying the channels you market on, tailoring your messaging to your specific platform, and staying consistent, you’ll be driving event registrations in no time!

4. Tap Your Most Loyal Supporters

Let’s face it – every event has a lifecycle. After a few years, even the best gala, golf outing, or fundraising campaign needs an injection of creativity and energy.

That’s why we love introducing ambassador fundraising to re-energize events! How does it work?

  • Select your ambassadors: These should be people who have large networks and influence in the community.
  • Set them up for success: Arm your ambassadors with mission messaging, impact statements, social graphics, and whatever else they may need to spread the word!
  • Make it fun: The best part of ambassador fundraising is the element of competition. Motivate your ambassadors with contests for who can get the most donations or registrations and watch their impact grow!

5. Build a Marketing Calendar

One of the most critical – but often overlooked – keys to successful event fundraising marketing has nothing to do with skills or marketing expertise. Surprisingly, it has nearly everything to do with good old fashioned time management.

After the foundational pieces of your strategy are in place – you’ve developed strong, personalized messaging and chosen which channels to market your event through – begin to build out a marketing calendar.

Not sure where to start? Check out our Donor Communication Guide on creating the ideal communications cadence.

Learn More

Marketing During the Event: The Big Day is Finally Here!

Event day arrives and your marketing plan has worked like a charm. The right people were targeted and attendees are excited, tuned in, and ready to engage with your nonprofit. But just because the event kicked off without a hitch doesn’t mean that the marketing stops. In fact, it’s just getting started!

One of the biggest mistakes a nonprofit can make is to neglect to continue marketing their cause during the fundraiser.

An event is the perfect time to share mission highlights and capitalize on donors’ excitement. In fact, consider event day as the true kickoff for marketing your next event. Here are few ways to put nonprofit marketing magic to work during your fundraiser:


Make sure your team (or a hired professional) takes photos to post live on social media during the event. In order for guests to follow along and to contribute photos themselves, create a unique event hashtag and promote it before and during the event. By using an official hashtag, your team has an additional opportunity to showcase guest photos.

Another inexpensive way to guarantee fun event photos is to set up a backdrop with props and enlist the help of a photo booth photographer. Use the hashtag to share some of the funniest outtakes during the event and encourage guests to share their own!

Social Media

Yet again, social media to the nonprofit marketing rescue. Continue to post to social media channels throughout the event and encourage guest participation in order to share excitement and build community. Keep these top tips in mind:

  • Schedule posts ahead of time: Your team will be busy running the show and engaging with guests. Save yourself some time by scheduling a few posts before the event!
  • Provide real-time updates: Update your followers about how much has been raised for your cause to amp up the excitement.
  • Encourage offline donations: Donors don’t have to be in the ballroom to participate. Encourage your followers to bid and donate!
  • Focus on the impact: Be sure to call out how the donations will impact your mission. After all, your attendees aren’t just partygoers — they want to make a difference.
  • Give a shoutout: Give your highest bidders and loyal donors their own shoutout on social! Deepening your donor connection is what it’s all about.

According to the Giving Experience Study, social media was the top way social donors found out about a giving opportunity. Not only will using social media boost your event engagement, but it could also attract new supporters to your cause!


The news media can be an event’s best friend when it comes to reaching a wide and unique audience. Check to see if local newspapers, television stations, or even radio stations would be interested in covering the live event or promoting it after the fact for their audience.

Invite them (well in advance, of course) and offer one of the nonprofit’s leaders or board members to provide an exclusive interview.

By employing these nonprofit event marketing strategies, your team will not only build excitement in the moment, but you’ll be positioning your event to be even bigger and better the next time around.

Text & Chat

If you are using Text2Give or mobile bidding software, your guests will be glued to their phones throughout the event. This makes both texting and live chat amazing in-event marketing tools. By leveraging in-event messaging, you can help increase engagement and fundraising success with these simple tactics:

  • Advertise when fundraising activities start and stop.
  • Promote your auctions, raffles, or donation moments.
  • Highlight live fundraising proceeds or real-time auction updates.
  • Send last call texts or chats to fuel last-minute giving.
  • Promote in-event donation matches or fundraising challenges.
  • Remind guests to update their profile information before checkout.
  • Create custom calls-to-action that motivate donors to give.

Quick and easy text messaging and live chat can really fuel and foster in-event connection (and giving) for all audiences.

Marketing After the Event: Your Job Isn’t Done Yet!

Once the last glass has been picked up and the final bit of decoration left over from the event has been recycled, it’s time to relax, right? Kind of. Yes, celebrate, take your shoes off and soak in all you’ve accomplished. And then like true fundraisers, get right back at it!

The days and weeks immediately following an event present a huge opportunity for additional fundraising and further donor engagement. Post-event marketing is an art in and of itself and, if done right, can build lasting donor relationships. Here are a few things to remember:

Follow Up Via Email or Direct Mail

Donor appreciation is at the core of deep donor connections. A simple thank you message via email or direct mail can make a lasting impact on your event attendees. But go beyond thanking your supporters – let them know their donation made an impact.

And be specific! For example: “With your help, we were able to provide dinner for 525 families in the Indianapolis area during the month of March.”

Update Your Social Channels and Website

Continue using social media channels to your advantage for at least 20 days after the event is over. Share photos and videos from the night, tagging guests and sponsors where appropriate to increase the likelihood of further sharing and engagement.

Add guest or staff quotes if you can to show the real-time donor engagement and personalize the event impact.

Begin Marketing for Next Year

In your thank you messages and on social media, include a “Save the Date” for the next event and a link to the event page – even if only a few details are available so far.

Or, if it’s too far in advance, include information about the next engagement opportunity, whether it’s volunteering or becoming an ambassador!

BONUS! The Ultimate Marketing Checklist

Pre-Event Checklist

  • The entire team has 100% visibility into deadlines, vendor information, and event dates.
  • Our event site has been setup, or a launch date for the site has been determined.
  • Our venue, vendors, sponsors, and volunteers are all scheduled and confirmed.
  • All social channel handles appear on all marketing content.
  • We have double-checked advertising content (print/radio/on-air/email) for the right date, time, and messaging.
  • All of our event promos and invites have been scheduled or mailed.
  • We have a clear schedule in place for the day of the event.
  • Our event team knows exactly how to keep up engagement and excitement during the event.

During-Event Checklist

  • Our marketing plan is running smoothly, and everything is in place for the big day.
  • We have someone dedicated to managing social accounts throughout the evening.
  • Our photographer and other vendors are in place and ready for guests.
  • Our media contacts are well-briefed and know what to expect during the event.
  • The board members and executives in attendance are briefed on future events.
  • We have ample signage and content promoting our upcoming events.
  • The follow-up process is in place and ready to go after the event.

Post-Event Checklist

  • We posted the results of our fundraiser on our website, social pages, and anywhere audiences can engage with our organization.
  • We have easy access to all of our donor and attendee contact information.
  • We know exactly who made what donation, who bid on which auction item, as well as all sponsorship details.
  • Our social media team posted all pictures and videos from the event online, and we’ve tagged attendees whenever possible.
  • Our Save the Date and event page are built, live, and ready to start collecting attendee information for next year.
  • We have a list of people who have RSVP’d to the next event and are suppressing them from all promotions.

Wrapping Up!

Powerful missions need powerful fundraising software! The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes giving modern, flexible, and seamless to drive deeper engagement and grow your fundraising. Take a look at this versatile all-in-one fundraising software that meets the expectations of today’s donor, supporting any event, in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
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If you’re a current customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager to chat about using the new Platform at your next event.