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Three Predictions For The Future Of Charity Event Marketing

This article was originally published on Forbes.com on August 30, 2017.


Karrie Wozniak

The fundraising event has long been at the center of nonprofits’ fundraising strategies. With some careful planning, a fundraising event has the power to attract new donors, engage existing supporters and bring in major revenue.

But no matter how strategic and thought-out your auction, gala or walkathon, your event-planning prowess won’t mean much if you’re left with an empty room. That’s why it’s important to supercharge your event fundraising by laying out a thoughtful marketing plan that will capture donors’ attention and inspire them to attend your event (and bring along some friends, too).

Like many other aspects of the fundraising world, event marketing thrives on innovative technology and creative perspectives. To keep your marketing strategies in line with donors’ changing preferences, this is what I see in the future of event marketing:

1. Event fundraising websites will centralize your event promotions.

Nonprofits can’t go wrong when employing a multichannel marketing strategy for their fundraising event promotions. However, if you’re sending out disconnected event details through channels such as social media, email blasts and direct mail, you might find it difficult to keep track of what information is going out when, where and to whom.

The solution? Centralize your promotions by setting up an appealing, user-friendly event website.

In an age of information overload, I see this trend picking up major speed because modern donors don’t have the time to spend surfing the web (or sorting through mail) to find out more. Instead, you can direct potential guests to your event website to access event details, registration, a virtual auction item catalog, online bidding and more.

You don’t need to be a web design aficionado to set up a page that’s comprehensive and easily navigable (not to mention attractive and professionally branded). Your event fundraising software can generate your event site and make it easy for you to customize it to fit your event. For help finding the right software, check out our partner Double the Donation’s list of the top event fundraising tools.

2. Your marketing strategy won’t be limited to in-person attendees.

Historically, it’s made sense that nonprofits have promoted events to those who could be in attendance. For organizations with a local focus, that’s not a problem. But for organizations whose scope of donors stretches farther than their geographic locale, limiting event fundraising options to just those donors in your area has the potential to restrict your overall success.

It’s a good thing that we see those geographic boundaries being shattered, especially when it comes to event marketing. Here’s how:

  • Text-to-give fundraising opens up your event fundraising audience. Text giving is more accessible than ever for nonprofits and donors who are excited to make use of this convenient, engaging mobile-giving platform (check out our helpful guide here). When you include your text-to-give number in event promotions, you’ll expand your reach near and far.
  • Online auctions will extend your event time. For those who can’t physically be at your charity’s silent or live auction, take the bidding online and make it easy for anyone in the world to participate. You can host these auctions in conjunction with your in-person auction or make them their own virtual event.
  • Mobile bidding expands the silent auction experience. In addition to hosting an online auction, you can broaden your in-person silent auction to reach new audiences. Make sure that promotional materials include a rundown of the mobile-bidding process so donors on-site and off know how to use their smartphones to place bids or make donations.

With so many giving channels available for donors at your event and beyond, you should have no problem illustrating how easily your supporters around the world can make a donationAs you’re marketing your event, make sure that donors know to share your giving opportunities with their own social networks. 

3. Peer-to-peer fundraisers will empower donors to promote for you.

The premise of peer-to-peer (laid out in detail in this handy guide) is that your supporters can set up their own individual fundraising pages to raise money for your organization. Traditionally, these campaigns are held in conjunction with large, community fundraising events like walkathon, bike rides, and other physical challenges.

Peer-to-peer isn’t necessarily a new strategy (and I don’t want to minimize its power by calling it a trend), but I do see its effect on event marketing changing the game even more in the coming fundraising seasons. Here’s how:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraisers will amplify your nonprofit’s reach through social media. It’s not every day that an online fundraiser goes viral, but even if you don’t reach the heights of the ice bucket challenge, you can still engage a whole new crop of potential supporters via peer-to-peer. Maintain an active social media presence and you’re sure to see new followers (and donations).
  • Peer-to-peer communications will connect your nonprofit to key supporters. The success of peer-to-peer fundraising relies on the energy of your fundraisers. By showing the impact of your fundraisers’ efforts (and thanking them for their dedication), you’ll reinvigorate your constituents and perhaps inspire them to get involved in other aspects of your organization.
  • Peer-to-peer marketing will put the emphasis back on nonprofit storytelling. To spread your nonprofit’s mission as far as possible, you’ll need to connect supporters and their networks to your cause. Not only can you use your own marketing materials to highlight your mission, but your fundraisers can use their personal fundraising pages to relay their personal investments in the cause, too.

Since your supporters are doing much of the work for you, make sure to provide them with resources (fundraising templates, branded images and helpful infographics) to make their jobs a little easier.

Keep these predictions in mind as you map out your fundraising event marketing plan. Before long, you’ll be on your way to a profitable, engaging charity event that your donors won’t be able to resist.


Karrie Wozniak is an expert on mobile fundraising. She is vice president of marketing at BidPal, a mobile fundraising software company.

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