1.Core Focus & Goal Setting
You can’t expect to just put a seed in the dirt and have it grow into a beautiful lemon tree. There’s the process of organization, planning, and goal setting that go into growing a successful event campaign. Follow these steps and trust you me, your fruit trees will be beautifully bountiful.
First and foremost, make sure everyone is on the same page as to the reason you’re having an event. It might sound simple, but not everyone will have the same understanding you think they might:
- Is the event fundraising focused?
- Is it community outreach oriented with the goal to expand awareness of your cause or organization within your community?
Once everyone knows what the event is all about, organize your expectations and set goals. How much money are you looking to raise? How many people are you looking to have show up? What’s your overall objective for the event? If there’s no clarity regarding goals or objectives, how will you determine the success of your event?
Next, figure out how you’re going to break that down and reach your goal. Example goals for an event:
- Total Fundraising Goal Amount
- Total Reach of Invite
- Total RSVP’s
- Total Event Attendees
- Total Shares of Your Event
For example, if your goal is raising $5k, how exactly will you make that happen? How much can you expect through fundraising appeals in front of a crowd? How about personal donor engagement and cultivation? What can you expect in terms of average donations on events? How many conversations should you have? How many people must attend the event?
Set your goals and focus so you can make plans and your team will know how to contribute their skills into a successful event.
2. Planning & Teamwork
Once you have your goals set and communicated to your team, it’s time to organize your team into roles. It’s good to have people in the communication, graphic design, social media, donor engagement roles clearly set and identified.
It’s all about teamwork, y’all!
Once your teams are set, create timelines and a project plan outlining clear responsibilities and timelines for execution. By setting deadlines, the sense of urgency is raised and the chances of completion expand exponentially!
Be sure to have contingency plans in place and understood by your team preparing for worst case scenarios in case things fail. Technology is the biggest culprit, so be sure you have as many resources and backup gear as resources allow. Planning for zero failures could be the biggest failure of all.
Ain’t never had no problems with no technology out in the field before, but I suppose that’s none of my business...
You don’t want to miss out on donations because one square reader isn’t working or your mobile wireless (mifi) internet isn’t working. #Whammy
As well, you don’t want your emcee’s donation appeals to fall flat because the audience can’t hear their appeals because of a speaker malfunction. Or aren’t sure what the number to text in is because they couldn’t hear or see it on screen. Having an audio engineer on site for your speakers and PA system is critical!
Be sure you have a strong communication plan in place in case things go wrong. A group text chat is super helpful, or you could rent a motorola mobile communication solution. Cell phones usually do the trick, just make sure everyone’s on and ready to troubleshoot any issues.
3. How Do You Actually Get People to Your Events?
That’s the million dollar question! And the answer lies within your promotional opportunities.
Identify the current channels of communication you’re using. Utilize your website, emails, social media, text, earned media, paid media, phone calls, and press releases.
Make sure to incorporate each channel into your event promotion strategy. Start with understanding who you’re targeting.
If you are trying to target everyone, you are effectively targeting no one.
Make your event newsworthy, inviting, engaging, compelling by having a theme that incorporates a strong story element.
- A Family Fun Independence Day Festival for All Ages
- A Pumpkin Patch Jamboree with a Bluegrass Band
- A Space Age Bowie Bowling Night
Start by inviting your champions or most dedicated supporters to the event to get a strong base of RSVP’s. Identify the leaders of your pack... a 'street team' if you will. Make sure they’re coming to the event to get excitement and a sense of social proof.
Gamify the experience by making it fun for them and setting a goal of attendance for your ‘street team’ of most dedicated individuals, and share the importance of their participation on a list of how many people are coming.
Next, reach out to individuals who have interacted and showed interest with your cause before through email, mobile, and social media.
Then reach out to new people in your target market through all of your social channels. Use different, appropriate hashtags on social media to extend into other social conversations. Hashtagify.me is a great resource for this! Post often with links back to your RSVP page.
To Expand Reach to Others, You Can Also Issue a Press Release.
You might think your event is small, but there are a lot of local press individuals who are actively seeking topics to cover. Make their jobs easier for them by issuing a press release that contains a story that makes it easy to package up the event and tell a nice story.
This helps your target audience understand the benefit they’ll get out of coming to your event.
And Now, a Word on Advertising…
We asked Yoseph in our interview what he would spend his hard earned dollars on for advertising in the $200 and $1,000 range. (Check out our fantastic interview with Yo: “Discover Keys to Turbo-Charge Your Fundraising Events”)
He told us you can most directly target your audience through social media ads, and that’s how you should spend a tight advertising budget.
So, if you have an advertising budget of $200, social media ads are the way to go. With social media ads, Facebook specifically, you can set up a hyper-specific target to your demographic and location to whom your advertisement will reach.
The problem with radio or media ads is they’re like shotgun blasts: lots of reach, but spreading your ad too thin won’t see true results. If you can find your target demographic with pinpoint precision, and advertise to them specifically, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
And even if $200 can’t get you the advertising you may need, your organization can offer a trade for services or ask for a flat out donation of reach! Figure out what you and yours are willing to donate from your organization or in time to get a little more affection from radio stations, TV stations, magazines, newspapers, etc.
$200 can get you a lot further along than you think!
With a $1,000 budget, it’d still be wise to use $200 or so for Facebook ads.
For the price, there’s really no better way to reach your uber-specific community better than Facebook ads. Now, with the rest of the budget you can go into printed ads, google ads boosted ads on other social medias like LinkedIn and Twitter, or targeted niche websites or publications.
Connect With Other Communities!
Is there a related newsletter that goes out to your target audience? That’s another incredible way to reach out to your target audience.
Chuck your information in a community newsletter and ship it a la Digital Pony Express to help with SEO and reaching that publication’s email list and social media audience.
Make sure to submit your event to local newspapers, media and related websites. Simply do a Google search, e.g. “Submit event in Denver” and a list of websites will show up where you can submit your event (most allow you to submit for free!)
ESPECIALLY if the newsletter is already extremely specific, there’s quite the built-in audience who read them. The more specific regarding interest and location the better! And, depending on your organization, newsletters often support nonprofits and will offer discounted rates.
So you’ve done all the planning and promoting and now it’s time for the day for the big event! Stay tuned for our next post in this event series of how to maximize engagement and participation during the event itself...