August 28, 2018

5 Tech-Enabled Strategies for Successful Fundraising Events

Written by
Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Fundraising events have long been used to raise money for various causes and nonprofit organizations. But with evolving technology, there has been a movement toward more online solutions and fewer events.

While online fundraising is great, it doesn’t fully replace events for all your fundraising efforts. However, there are ways to pair online and offline efforts to get the most out of your fundraising strategies.

One essential online element used in conjunction with your fundraising events is event marketing. While advertising strategies are a great start, there is even more you could be doing!

Incorporate these 5 tech strategies for your fundraiser to get the most out of your next event:

  • Mobile Bidding
  • Event Merchandise
  • Text-to-Give
  • Event Management Technology
  • Donor Outreach

Let’s jump into the first strategy!

Mobile bidding

1. Mobile Bidding

Donor engagement is key to a successful event. And one of the best ways to keep them engaged for the event is to provide plenty of activities for them to participate in.

There are tons of great activities to choose from to boost engagement. One activity that is especially effective for raising money and maintaining engagement is a silent auction.

Silent auctions are effective for fundraising because:

  • Many businesses are very generous about donating auction items.
  • Auctions encourage donors to stay until the very end of the event.
  • Auctions are easily added onto other fundraising events.

Mobile technology even enables organizations to conduct silent auctions online on mobile devices. With this technology, people can walk around and enjoy the other aspects of the event while they keep an eye on their bid.

Or, if someone does need to leave early, they can continue to bid on their favorite items from their homes.

OneCause offers a silent auction guide that can help you plan your next event, including mobile bidding technology.

event merchandise

2. Event Merchandise

Selling event merchandise is not only a great way to raise money but also to market your events and your organization’s mission.

Start selling merchandise online a month or so before your event begins. This will accomplish a few things. By selling before your event using ecommerce channels:

  • Your organization will get a headstart on fundraising.
  • Your donors will use/wear the merchandise before the event, providing more marketing.
  • Your donors will view their T-shirt purchase and donations as separate expenses, resulting in larger gifts on the big day.

Ecommerce is only becoming a bigger and bigger phenomenon with more and more people choosing to buy online.

Plenty of merchandise providers offer ecommerce capabilities as well as bulk orders. After you have sold some merchandise online before the event, order it in bulk to carry at the event.

By offering merchandise both online and in-person, you can offer special discounts to online buyers. For example, “An event T-shirt is only $10 online compared to $12 at the event.” This will encourage more and more online sales.

When people at your event see others (who bought their swag online) sporting cool t-shirts, water bottles, and other merchandise, they will likely want to go buy it as well.

text to give

3. Text-to-Give

Mobile technology is becoming more and more relevant in an increasingly digital nonprofit world. Most people are within an arm’s reach of their smartphones at all times. Appeal to this advancing technology.

Text-to-give technology provides the option for your donors to text in donations for your organization throughout the event.

This technology works in just a few steps:

  • Set up a number to text through a text-to-give software tool.
  • Invite your event attendees to text the number with their donation amount.
  • A link is sent to their mobile device to a donation page.
  • Donors enter their credit card numbers. And that’s it!

By providing a text-to-give option to your event attendees, you are enabling them to make donations from their seat. There is no longer a need to get up and find a booth to donate or have a computer for online donations.

Smartphones have opened up a new world of marketing, fundraising, and communicating for any organization.

event management technology

4. Event Management Technology

As you plan your event, there are a lot of things to keep track of. You need to keep track of your fundraising efforts, from your text-to-give number to the businesses donating to your silent auction. All this information can seem somewhat overwhelming.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to stay organized throughout the event planning process.

Event management technology allows you to keep all this information in the same place, and even more than that. One of the most common CRM software solutions, Salesforce, is compatible with event management technology.

The more compatible your software programs are, the easier it will be to compile all your information in one place.

If you don’t have Salesforce, there’s no reason to worry!

When you are looking for event management technology for your organization, make sure you consider features such as:

  • Registration forms
  • Fee collection
  • Budgeting capabilities
  • A notes section for your other information

With all your event information in a single place, you will find planning your event to be a breeze, and the execution to be that much smoother.

donor outreach

5. Donor Outreach

Reaching out to donors before your event will help make that event more successful, but reaching out to them afterwards can be just as important.

When someone donates at your event, you can collect contact information to continue reaching out for more donations or to attend more of your events.

In addition to collecting contact information, you may also find it useful to collect information such as the donor’s:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Date of gift

Gathering demographics such as these can help you when it is time to reach out to donors again in the future.

With all this information stored in a CRM, your organization can segment email lists and appeal to people according to their demographics.

For example, you’ll probably find it more effective to emphasize social media sites such as Instagram or Snapchat with younger audiences.

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Your fundraising events are a great way to earn some extra cash while encouraging people to get involved with your organization. Amp up these events by adding a tech element to them! These 5 tech strategies can boost the potential for your event’s success.

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause.