Charitable events can raise money, make the community more aware of an organization, and boost support, staff and volunteer enthusiasm. Behind every successful charitable event is a well-planned marketing campaign that convinces people to participate. The purpose and goal for your event helps you determine who to reach and how best to reach them.
Know Your Purpose and Goal
Your charity event's goal sets the tone for your marketing effort. Decide how much money you want to raise and how the proceeds will be used. The purpose of your event may be "A concert to raise ‘X’ dollars for ‘Y’ program” or "A holiday house tour to add ‘X’ dollars to the building fund." Consider partnering with a business, television station or nonprofit interested in your cause or target audience. In return for their financial or marketing support, you can offer them recognition at the event and in your promotional material.
Identify Your Audience
Knowing the reason for your event helps you identify your target audiences and decide where to invest your promotional dollars, including current supporters and past donors. Trying to reach "everyone" doesn't focus your message on people with the most potential for meeting your dollar goal. For example, families, teachers and health care professionals represent possible target audiences for charity events supporting children's causes. An historic preservation event might target contractors, architects and real estate agents as potential donors. In "Promoting and Marketing Events: Theory and Practice," author Nigel Jackson says target audiences can include paying consumers or spectators, event participants and sponsors. Reach out to people who have previously donated or volunteered with the charity.
Define Your Message and Promotional Plan
Knowing your target audience helps you define the message that can best entice them to lend their support. Simply needing money is not enough. Your message should make your cause matter to them and acknowledge their passion about it. For example, the message for a golf outing to raise funds for an animal shelter might focus on the benefits of adopting a pet and be named "Putt for a Pup." Create a catchy name and a logo to use on all promotional materials. Consider incentives such as pricing tables of eight for less than eight individual tickets or acknowledgement in the event program for large donations.
Consider Traditional Media
Advertising reaches a lot of people, but not necessarily those most likely to make your event successful. Choose where to advertise based on what your target audience reads or listens to. Ask media representatives what types of stories interest them, and then develop human-interest angles that showcase the purpose of your event. Pitch your ideas to get free newspaper, radio and TV coverage. Display posters and fliers in area businesses or on area campuses, provide faith communities bulletin inserts and negotiate mentions or small ad placements in programs for arts events. Send news releases to local print and broadcast media, and public service announcements, or PSAs, to radio stations. Consider direct mail campaigns with personal invitations and response cards that enable recipients to pledge donations.
Tap the Power of Social Media
Include email announcements, e-invitations and social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in your marketing campaign. Set up a Facebook page for event registration and posting updates, photos and inspirational, event-related quotes. When the page goes live, announce it with a Facebook event. Tag donors, partners and attendees in your posts. Write daily tweets and include the hashtag you create for the event , such as #Putt4Pups. Add a banner display on your organization's website plus links to a page devoted to the event. Consider adding an event blog feature, complete with photos and videos. Get more mileage from these videos and photos by posting them on Instagram. Your social media campaign should last at least six weeks.
- Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide; Peri Pakroo
- CharityGrow.com: The Secrets to Planning a Successful Charity Event: A First Timer’s Guide
- Promoting and Marketing Events: Theory and Practice; Nigel Jackson
- Coyote Communications: Creating or Holding a Successful Community Event or Fund Raising Event
Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.