How to Convert Fundraiser Guests into Recurring Donors in 4 Actionable Steps | LuxGive

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Transactional vs. Relational Fundraising

Before we get started, let's take a moment to examine the difference between transactional and relational fundraising. 

Transactional fundraising is a model that—you guessed it—treats donations as consumer transactions. The primary goal is to meet a financial target rather than foster meaningful relationships with givers. Think galas, mass mailing, 5k runs, or even Giving Tuesday. 

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On the other hand, relational fundraising focuses on building trust, loyalty, and lasting personal relationships with donors. 

When donors give relationally, they act from a place of true understanding and investment in your mission. That means they're more likely to provide ongoing support and sustain your cause long-term. 

With this in mind, let's dive into how your events can become a stepping stone toward relational fundraising.

Step One: Host Your Event

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: first impressions matter (Remember the 5 key elements of successful fundraising events?) With so many causes competing for attention, your event needs to stand out to prospective donors.

Here are some tips to ace that all-important first meeting and leave guests with a positive impression of your organization.

1. Make it Memorable

Which fundraiser would you rather attend? A 'Night at the Museum'-themed soirée or a hotel dinner in a beige conference room? That's because unique experiences capture your guests' imagination, keeping you and your nonprofit top of mind.

2. Showcase Your Mission

Don’t leave it to your guests to form the connection between your event and your mission. Make it a point to showcase your mission in action with impact videos, keynote speakers, and success stories. Or better yet, show them with immersive, interactive experiences.

3. Acknowledge Your Guests

If you want to steward guests from transactional to relational giving, you need to put in the face time. Assign a Board member to each table to speak with guests, ask them questions, and thank them generously for their support. 


Psst - need a more detailed breakdown of these steps? Click the resource below! 

Step Two: Identify Prospective Donors

Events tend to get a bad rap for spending precious time and energy soliciting one-time gifts. But most fundraisers are overlooking the most valuable asset in the room: guest contact info! 

The secret? Using your event to identify and tap into this powerful database of prospective donors. Here's how: 

1. Fundraising Games

Wine pulls, raffles, balloon pops—you name it. Fundraising games are an easy, low-stakes way to engage donors. Most guests won't think twice about sharing their contact details to play and pay, whereas 'stay-in-touch' or donation forms can feel like a commitment.

2. Pledge Cards 

If you do opt for donation forms, try placing simple pledge cards or QR codes at each table, or using fundraising apps to encourage easy giving. Remember, always give the option to donate monthly first! 

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4. Live and Silent Auctions

Auctions are the heavy hitters of your event—aka they tend to bring in the most funds (we’re looking at you luxury travel!) Because of this, auctions can also help you identify high-net-worth individuals with the resources to become major gift donors. 

3. Fund-a-Need

The power of the fund-a-need is twofold. Not only does it raise money, it helps guests connect their dollars directly to your mission. Congrats, you've helped them take the first step toward relational giving.

💡Fundraising Tip: 

Did you know travel experiences can help you foster better donor relationships? That's because experiences are associated with deeper satisfaction and fulfillment, meaning winners are more likely to forge positive associations with your cause and support you in the future.

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Step Three: Cultivate Your Donors

Now comes the most important step of all, and the one where most nonprofits go wrong. Their honest mistake? Going for the ask too early. 

Remember, your guests aren't yet invested in your mission. So while it might be tempting to dump their contact info into your mailing list and call it a day, you'll need a more strategic pipeline if you want to convert them into donors.

Guest to Donor Pipeline: 

🛍️ At Event: Thank Them Generously 

Be vocal about how much you appreciate your guests' support and the impact it has. Make sure you're thanking guests personally and publicly (think Board members and emcees). Gift bags at the door are another thoughtful gesture.

💌 Next Day: Thank You Email

Wrap up an impactful evening by sending out a thank you email the day after the event. You can easily pre-write this email then tweak the numbers and hit send. Donors will appreciate knowing what you've achieved together.

💥 1 Week: Share the Impact 

Don't keep donors in the dark about their support. Send out an email the following week connecting their donation to specific outcomes. Show them the direct impact their donation had on your mission.

✍️ 1 Month: Hand-Written Note

Personal gestures are key to building trusted relationships, and hand-written notes are one of our favorites. Just as guests are beginning to forget about your event, send them a small card. A few words suffice to keep you fresh in their minds. 

🎓 3 Months: Keep Them Educated

Don't assume donors know what you're up to in the months that follow. Make sure to keep them educated about your mission and activities. Better yet, invite them to an educational event to see your mission in action.

🎯 6 Months: Send A Recap Letter

Make sure your guests know how busy you've been thanks to their donation! At the six-month mark, send them a personalized letter showing the impact of their support since the event. 

Step Four: Make Your Fundraising Ask

Timing is everything in life—and in fundraising! By now, you've spent months cultivating your guests and showing them just how much their individual support matters. It's finally time to make your fundraising ask!

While every ask will look different (each donor relationship is different, after all), here are some tips to consider:

Make the Connection

Thank your guest again for attending your event and remind them how their support made a tangible difference.

Make it Specific

Communicate clearly how their ongoing support will help you achieve specific mission goals or outcomes.

Make it Relevant

Consider timing your ask with an existing fundraising campaign, such as a matched gift or your Year-End Appeal.

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Take Action

Planning a fundraiser for your nonprofit? LuxGive offers a wealth of resources to help you plan and execute a successful benefit event.

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Our travel experiences feature Premium Guest Services for trip planning and access to an exceptional portfolio of over 1,500 stunning private properties across the world. 

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