Greetings from the Ann Plans Team
Wow, it is hard to believe we are almost through the first quarter of 2016. With the unusually mild Minnesota winter, the season is slipping by more quickly than usual. I almost didn’t need my recent escape to Hawaii. And, I never dreamed that the Ann Plans staff would be enjoying a baby shower lunch outdoors on the Salut patio on March 11. Congratulations to team member Caitlin Sinnett and husband Will who are expecting their little guy the end of April.
There is great news to report on how 2016 fundraising is trending for local events in this first quarter. With what we, our clients and colleagues are experiencing, this is shaping up to be a strong year for both giving and attendance at events.
Here are some of the trends currently on our radar as we are working with our nonprofit partners in maximizing the impact of their events:
- The traditional fundraising event season in the Twin Cities has expanded. April and October are the months most heavily loaded with nonprofit events followed by the other fall and spring months. By moving your event to February or June – or from the weekend to a Tuesday or Thursday night – you will have less competition.
- Less is almost always more when it comes to your event program. Carefully think through your key messages and how best to deliver those messages through engaging speakers, video and entertainment. Focus on programmatic segments that are “mission-filled,” “engaging,” and “short and snappy.”
- Given what is often a low return on investment for the volunteer and staff time involved in executing silent auctions, the trend is smaller or no silent auctions. We have seen dramatic upswings in revenue generation when more time can be invested in guest recruitment, sponsorship cultivation, creating highly desirable live auction packages, and fund-a-need/direct giving moment strategy development.
- Helping guests directly experience an aspect of your work can deepen their connection and inspire increased generosity. At Courage Kenny’s Gala in November, we were able to demonstrate brand new therapy technology. Bringing to life a robotic suit that makes it possible for clients with paralysis to stand and walk positively impacted our fundraising that night and enhanced the guest experience.
- Event technology is here to stay, and we’re getting smarter on how we use it. Tablets and smart phone bidding can elevate the guest experience and provide definite efficiencies for auction and fund-a-need recording. However, technology can sometimes be a distraction. For example, during your live auction and direct giving moments, you want guests focused on mission and the energy in the room rather than technology. Raise bid cards to raise more money!
- Clients are working to engage more with the new generation of philanthropists, the millennials. We will devote an upcoming newsletter to this topic, but here are a few ideas for engaging this generation before, during and after your event: create a strong social media campaign, provide inspiring stories demonstrating impact, communicate about volunteer opportunities, and encourage your table hosts to include millennials on their invite list.
Social Media Tip
Ann Plans participated in a recent round table discussion at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits focused on social media strategies. Participants shared that their organization consistently receives an increase in response and traffic when their posts feature a brief client impact story or snapshot of an interesting event accompanied by a photo or video. Give this a try on your social media sites. We think you will be impressed with the results!
Caitlin, Lauren, Sherri and I wish you a warm and inspired start to spring.