The Art of Appreciation

Blog Post by: Allie Duggan

While attending a couple events this year and working on various graphics projects for different clients recently, I have seen an emphasis on how important appreciation is and its profound impact on human behavior. Appreciation enhances well-being by boosting self-esteem and strengthens relationships, because it makes you feel valued and fosters a sense of trust and connection. It boosts morale, which in turn creates an environment of kindness and giving. And as long as the appreciation is consistent, it creates a positive feedback loop.

In the world of nonprofit organizations, it’s not just about fundraising, it’s about building meaningful relationships with the supporters and advocates in your community and showing your appreciation. While every supporter of your cause deserves gratitude, recurring donors hold a special place in the heart of any nonprofit. They are the steadfast champions of your mission, providing consistent support that helps drive your organization forward. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of appreciating your donors, with a special emphasis on the significance of recurring donors and the small gestures that make a world of difference.

Beyond the Business Relationship

One of the fundamental aspects that set nonprofit-donor relationships apart from business transactions is the element of trust and belief in a shared mission. Recurring donors aren’t just customers; they’re your partners in making your community a better place. They’ve committed to your cause, and they’re in it for the long haul. It’s crucial to recognize and celebrate this unique dynamic.

The Power of Appreciation

Donors who choose to support your organization on a regular basis are essentially saying, “I believe in what you do, and I want to be a part of it.” In response, it’s vital to show them that you value their commitment. The power of appreciation cannot be overstated. Here’s why it matters so much:

1. Strengthening the Connection

By showing appreciation, you’re strengthening the emotional connection between your nonprofit and your recurring donors. You’re not just thanking them for their financial support, you’re acknowledging their role in making your mission a reality. This acknowledgment deepens the sense of belonging and attachment.

2. Encouraging Ongoing Support

When donors feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to continue their support. They become more invested in your mission and are willing to increase their contributions or extend their commitment. Appreciation fosters loyalty.

3. Spreading the Word

Donors who feel appreciated become your most effective advocates. They are more likely to share their positive experiences with friends, family, and colleagues, helping you expand your support network. In this way, appreciation has a ripple effect that goes beyond the immediate donor relationship.

Small Gestures, Big Impact

Appreciation doesn’t always have to be grand or elaborate. Sometimes it’s the small gestures that make the most significant impact. Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Handwritten Thank You Notes

A simple, heartfelt thank you note can convey your appreciation more effectively than a generic email. Personalize the message, mentioning their specific contributions and the impact it has had on your organization’s work. We encourage our partners to tie a donation amount to an impact in their organization during the event and reiterating this while acknowledging your donors’ generosity packs a big punch.

2. Quick Phone Calls

A brief phone call to express gratitude can be a pleasant surprise for your donors. It shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make them feel valued. 

3. Exclusive Updates & Access

Share exclusive updates about your organization’s progress with your recurring donors. Let them know how their support is making a difference. This helps them understand the direct impact of their contributions. Additionally, make sure they have exclusive access to event tickets and tables before they go on sale to the general public. You can do this through a phone call or a specific marketing piece and it is sure to go a long way.

4. Special Recognition

Consider creating a donor recognition program where you publicly acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of your recurring donors. This can be done through your website, newsletters, or at events.

Appreciating your donors, especially recurring donors, is not just a formality – it’s a vital element in maintaining and nurturing the relationships that drive your nonprofit forward. These dedicated supporters aren’t just a source of financial assistance, they are advocates for your mission, and they deserve to know just how much their commitment means to you. So, take the time to express your gratitude in meaningful ways and watch as the bonds between your organization and its donors grow stronger, ultimately enabling you to achieve even greater positive change in your community.

Timing is Everything

Blog Post by: Ashlee Meier

Is it a good time to chat/learn/commit to something? Isn’t that always the question in our fundraising worlds!

When it comes to hosting a successful event, there’s a saying that certainly holds true: timing is everything! From selecting the right date, to approaching sponsors, to releasing ticket sales and orchestrating the event day schedule, strategic timing plays a crucial role in maximizing both the guest experience and potential revenue. 

Our fabulous Project Manager, Christie Howard, discussed the nuances of balancing communication timing with the start of a new school year in our most recent blog post, Balancing Communications. Today, we’ll dive into the numerous ways that timing can make or break your fundraising event, because it is, indeed, EVERYTHING!

1. Picking the Perfect Date:

Choosing the right date for your fundraising event is paramount. A date that clashes with other major community events, school closings, popular travel weekends or holidays can significantly impact attendance. Research local calendars to ensure your event doesn’t coincide with competing events. Also, consider the time of year – outdoor events may be better suited for mild seasons, while indoor events can thrive in any weather. 

We recently kicked off our fall event season the last weekend in August with 3 events that, although wildly successful, struggled with both ticket sales due to events happening so quickly after the start of the school year, and event day heat for outdoor elements. Avoid that when selecting your event date if at all possible! 

2. Sponsorship Outreach Timing:

Securing sponsors is a pivotal part of fundraising events, and timing plays a vital role in this process. Reach out to potential sponsors well in advance of your event date, giving them ample time to consider your proposal and allocate funds. Aim to approach sponsors when they’re finalizing their budgets for the year or quarter and build in plenty of runway for follow up. 

3. Ticket Sales Timing:

Releasing ticket sales at the right time can make a significant difference in maximizing ticket purchases and event attendance. Launch ticket sales when there’s enough excitement around the event without getting lost in the shuffle of other activities, travel or holidays. Create a sense of urgency with strategic pre-sales and limited offerings of VIP or table packages. 

4. Curating the Ideal Event Day Schedule: 

The flow of your event day (or evening) can have a huge impact on guest engagement and revenue generation. There is a delicate balance between having enough time to enjoy all the elements and having too much time, giving guests space to warm to the idea of participating, while focusing them on key activations. You’ll want to ensure the big picture event schedule is structured strategically, and that the Run of Show and/or speaking elements fall within the window of critical mass. High-energy segments, such as live performances or auctions, are best placed when attendees are at their peak enthusiasm.

5. The Fundraising Focus:

While it’s important to create an enjoyable experience for your guests, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal – funding your incredible work! Strategically time moments throughout the event when you’ll make fundraising appeals. Placing revenue activations thoughtfully in your space layout so guests experience them in the proper timing is key, along with the placement of live auction and paddle raise within your show flow. 

6. Post-Event Follow-Up:

Timing doesn’t end when the event wraps up. Within a day or two after the event, send out thank you emails to attendees, sponsors, and volunteers. Include a recap of the event’s success, the total amount raised, a link to event photos on your social media site, and how the funds will be used. This swift follow-up reinforces the impact of their participation and keeps your cause top of mind. Better yet, start solidifying commitments for next year’s event while they are still enjoying the after event glow!

Mastering the art of timing is a crucial factor for the success of events. From selecting a date that avoids competition, to approaching sponsors at the right moment, timing can determine the level of engagement, attendance, and ultimately, the funds raised. By paying attention to these key timing considerations, you can create an event that not only captivates your guests, but also drives significant support for your cause. Remember, it’s not just about when you hold your event, it’s about making every moment count!

Our team at STUDIO 4Forty are pros on all aspects of event timing and would love to help you increase your impact through one of our signature fundraising events. Contact Kim Perry to learn what’s available in your market! 

Balancing Communication

Blog Post By: Christie Howard

Where did summer go? It feels like just last week we were preparing for vacations, summer camps, and what proved to be a chaotic summer schedule. And although summer as a whole has flown by, why is it that the last couple of weeks before school officially starts back up always feels like fundraising purgatory? As fundraising professionals, we are feeling the lag in sponsorship commitments and event ticket sales. In some cases, they have come to a halt altogether. We have expressed before how the timing of your fundraising event should strategically align with when your target audience will be able to attend, and this is still the trend going into the Fall. The same can be said for the timing of your communications as our donors and sponsors are compartmentalizing the ways they give and support with the seasons of their personal lives.

Although we are all feeling the frustration of lower email open rates and unreturned phone calls, consistency (and faith in our past donors) is key. Put yourself in their shoes and remember that at the end of the day, we are all human and all experiencing this end-of-summer chaos. If you feel like you are struggling to balance the many challenges that life is throwing your way, chances are your potential donors and sponsors are feeling the same and have plans to catch back up!

My personal inbox is inundated with emails regarding my three kids going to three different schools, two of whom are starting at new schools. I am also planning for a busy fall travel season with STUDIO 4Forty and thinking about how that will affect my kids’ activity schedules. As you can imagine, this comes with lots of stress and a fear of the unknown. But, like many donors who may be experiencing similar situations, I fully intend on catching up on those fundraising and event-related emails at the bottom of my inbox once my kids are back in school and we are back on a somewhat more consistent schedule. 

So as we think about the timing of our communications, and how we are engaging with our communities, we don’t want to overwhelm, but we also don’t want to be overlooked. The hope is that our past donors will go looking for our event in their emails or on social media, but how can we be sure? It can be a true balancing act!

Over the past year, we have seen our nonprofit organization clients struggle with timing, whether it relates to communicating during certain times of the year (much like now) or balancing communication between a multitude of events and fundraising campaigns. Creating a solid PR & Marketing plan and staying consistent with outreach still proves to be the best method. This season is shifting, with summer coming to a close, so continue to embrace that change and don’t be afraid to adjust your strategies with the adjustments of each season. Keep going with your communication plans and treat those donors like you would a close friend. Check in, circle back, and listen to what it is they want and need. 

If you are one of our STUDIO 4Forty clients, we are happy to help you build a custom PR & Marketing timeline around your events. If you are not a current client of ours, you can join in on the fundraising fun by contacting our Director of Business Development, Kim Perry, to learn more!