Event fundraising lessons from DoJiggy.com

Valley Street riders 2I’m not a great events fundraiser. I strongly encourage nonprofits to put their time and energy into cultivating donors directly rather than spending huge amounts of time on logistics for events that too often raise very little money.

But I’m far from doctrinaire about events, unlike some colleagues who poo poo their value. When done well — and that’s the caveat —  events can raise significant money at a good return on investment and excite supporters and build community energy and interest in your organization and it’s mission. 

Special events come “naturally” to some fundraisers who are really talented at raising money this way.  I’m not, but I admire them. My take is that the backdrop of an event provides a comforting rationale to raise major individual and corporate gifts which are the secret sauce for successful events. And there are some donors who would just rather give through events. Events can be the hook for young donors or those new to philanthropy.

Online giving platforms have become a critical part of event fundraising. Today I’m sharing a guest post from Maureen Peine of DoJiggy. on what they’ve learned from their clients.

— Gayle

Effective Fundraising : 5 Things Our Customers Have Taught Us

By Maureen Peine, DoJiggy

Our best teachers are our customers. They use our software every day, creatively, to raise funds for the noblest of causes from hunger to education to the environment. Of these diverse organizations, there are those who stand out among the crowd for their dedication, success and effectiveness.

Ride4resaon1. Get Personal with Your Crowdfunding Audience

Crowdfunding events have become quite popular given their inherent ability to reach the audience of each constituent. Reaching constituents emotionally was done with a great degree of effectiveness by an event participant during a recent bike-a-thon to support education in California. Julia is one of the event’s top fundraisers, and from her personal fundraising page, it is easy to see why. Even the scrolling comments from her supporters reflect her commitment to education given the emotional investment shown by each supporter — “Besides the donation, sending a million blessings!”….. Literacy lives! Love, Mom”. Julia has included some touching photos of the kids she teaches and their artwork as opposed to pictures of herself, speaking loudly of her mission.

  1. Build Strong Relationships by Creating an Emotional Connection

The importance of building strong relationships with donors is shown by the Sharks Foundation and their signature Sampling with the Sharks wine tasting event. The staff focused on creating an emotional connection with their top donors by sharing hockey stories and their personal experiences. Their shared passion and excitement for the game which they love will connect them, yet finding out what is important to each donor is equally as important. They engaged donors in the problems faced by the organization, and offered them an opportunity to be a part of the solution.

  1. Create Value in Society

Many environmental nonprofit organizations are hosting successful events, yet this special event holds activities for kids focused on Kids for birdathonlearning the basics of bird identification based on their silhouettes or beaks. They teach children how to properly use binoculars, and involve them in making bird feeders, cleaning them and making bird-friendly glass designs for their windows. The impact Boulder Bird Day has on its donors goes straight to each donors’ heart and sense of commitment to Planet Earth in teaching children the importance of our environment. Unique fundraising event ideas can bring value to your community while truly sharing your mission.

  1. Reach Out and Promote with Vigor

The 4th annual WINK News Feeds Families Hunger Walk this year raised $340,000 for children, families and individuals in need in southwest Florida. Over the past five years this fundraising walk-a-thon has raised $1,000,000 to fight hunger. One of the most important factors of their success lies in the outreach they have done in their community. They’ve partnered with their local CBS affiliate as the title sponsor of the walk. This partnership offers them local TV coverage and special interviews; they produce commercials and videos for them. They also have a great partnership with their local newspaper who creates and runs ads in their publications for this exciting walk with over 1,000 participants.

  1. If you are committed to events, then commit!

Schools often hold one fundraising event per year, but the Abernethy School holds nine. One could say that not all schools have a budget or parental support for this, but they’ve found ways to make it work. The vibrancy and prolific nature of this school’s fundraising efforts sets them apart from the crowd. Each year they host two donation campaigns, two crowdfunding events, an auction, a general donation platform and 3 special events. They define themselves as not just a school, rather “a gathering and learning place…we believe that a strong neighborhood school creates a safer and friendlier community for everybody.” They aptly accomplish their mission by integrating a number of school fundraising ideas into their efforts, providing opportunities for everyone to engage.

In Summary

State-of-the-art fundraising software is truly important in helping these successful events, yet people making connections and organizations driving from the heart is the common essence of each of their unique stories of success. People reaching out and forming authentic relationships through community partnerships, or in each conversation is the real chemistry to the equation of being successful in fundraising. Sharing impassioned mission statements, stories, artwork, and teaching children truly connects people and motivates them to give.

Maureen began her career in public relations in 2002 at The Nature Conservancy, and currently holds a position with DoJiggy in Marketing and Sales. DoJiggy provides affordable, easy-to-use fundraising software solutions for nonprofits, schools, and community organizations. http://www.DoJiggy.com

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