Posted by Pamela McLeod

Fundraising events play a huge role in gaining donations and furthering your nonprofit organization’s cause. Yet, before these events raise any money, they first need attendees. If no one attends the fundraiser, then your organization loses its initial investment and potential donations.

So how can your nonprofit promote its events? Marketing, marketing, marketing. By marketing your upcoming events and promoting your cause, your nonprofit organization will gain attendees, who in extension help you gain donations. Interested? Check out these major tips on ways to promote your next philanthropic event.

Getting Your Fundraiser Started
When your nonprofit first decides on an idea for a fundraising event, make sure to give the event enough time to develop in promotion. (Tip: For fundraising ideas, check out our articles on 10 Creative Fundraising Ideas and 10 More Innovative Fundraising Ideas). Events require a marketing outline to ensure attendance, so guarantee your organization a developed plan by allotting enough time beforehand. Start thinking about a publicity campaign at least six months in advance and begin distributing material to the public two months before.

Before your nonprofit begins promoting the fundraiser, consider long term goals. How can this event help you reach those goals? Develop a unique angle for your event and understand how to market this angle to your target audience. For example, if your nonprofit organization (NPO) focuses on women’s empowerment, market a fashion show fundraising event by reaching out to local women’s shelters.

Develop a strategic marketing calendar. Determine the best strategy to achieve your goals and come up with a step-by-step plan that will help accomplish your mission efficiently. Understand a timeline for the promotion. What do you plan on sharing with constituents a month before the event? A week? The day before? Creating a little mystery throughout your promotion helps keep participants interested, and following a marketing timeline gives your organization confidence in its efforts while still maintaining an allure of intrigue.

Traditional Advertising
Although nonprofits have used traditional advertising methods for generations, they still remain effective promoting NPO events today. These include direct mail to attendees, print and sign advertisements and flyer handouts. Don’t provide too much information, but include the 5 Ws—who, what, when, where and why. Crucial details like these catch people’s interest, but don’t overwhelm potential attendees with too many particulars.

With traditional advertising methods, as well as an integrated media approach that pairs traditional and digital methods ensures constituents find your event information across different platforms. When pushing out printed promotions for your charity event, drive viewers back to your online efforts.

For example, on a printed flyer handout, include a call to action at the bottom like “Help us continue the fight against breast cancer by visiting!” with a link to a landing page on the site. By encouraging different media to work hand in hand, you’ll reach more potential attendees and grow your fundraising.

Social Media
With traditional advertising methods comes the current way of the world: social media. If your nonprofit organization does not already have a strong social media presence, do not attempt to start one through this event. Waiting to start a social media presence is a better option than attempting to start one, maintaining it for a few weeks and later letting it fall into disarray. For information on how to start and grow your social networking status, check out our articles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Google+.

If your NPO already has a social media presence, this serves as an excellent (and free) resource for promoting your fundraising event. Share event information through social networking sites or ask constituents to share their posts leading up to it. For example, if your nonprofit hosts a silent auction, an attendee could post a picture of their donation item to increase enthusiasm. Social media is excellent for revealing a little information at a time. This maintains a certain level of mystery and keeps attendees interested.

If applicable, you can also offer social media challenges. One example is a bachelor/bachelorette auction. Bachelors or bachelorettes participating in the auction can post pictures leading up to the event (with a hashtag chosen by your organization) and the participant with the most photo likes the day of the event can earn extra points. Constituents have fun while promoting your event.

Like other marketing platforms, develop a clear calendar for social media to avoid overwhelming constituents with too many posts or leaving them without information for long. Have fun and keep it lighthearted—social media is great for advertising youthful events that encourage participation.

Email Marketing
If used properly, email can be a potent tool for your nonprofit’s event promotion. Your organization will need a list of potential attendees and donors’ email addresses in order to effectively communicate. You can compile this list from past constituents, those involved in your nonprofit’s social media pages or those who opt in on your website to receive your emails.

Start out by scheduling an advance email invitation to constituents with information about the event. Keep the first email general—attendees should learn about the event and save the date on their calendar, but not get too overwhelmed with details. As the event approaches, continue to send out regular emails to your database list. Continual e-bulletins for the fundraiser help generate excitement and interest from potential donors. With each email include new developments, latest news and interesting details about the upcoming event.

Most importantly, always drive email recipients back to your nonprofit organization’s website especially if you require an RSVP. Have a call to action at the bottom of the email asking viewers to register, check out your site, donate to the event or even volunteer. By crossing media platforms, your marketing strategy will further the group’s event promotion.

Look Towards the Future
As with any marketing campaign, be sure to set your NPO up well for future fundraising events. Next year matters. A successful fundraiser is the first of many annual events that can bring in habitual donations for your organization. People value consistency, so when this event has come to a close, it can never be too early to begin building the hype for next year’s fundraiser.

One way to make sure future fundraising events succeed is through post-event evaluation. Send out emails or social media posts to constituents asking for feedback on your event to see how you can improve for next year. When donors feel heard, they will more likely continue attending your group’s fundraisers and give. You can even ask attendees how they heard about this year’s event so you know how to market specifically for next year.

When it comes to promoting your nonprofit’s events, marketing strategies are the way to go. Prepare your organization with a plan that utilizes traditional advertising, social media campaigns and email marketing. When your event has come to a close, make sure to set yourself up for success in future fundraising events as well.

By using strategic marketing, your nonprofit organization can successfully promote its mission, gain attendees and raise money for its cause.

Interested in more ways to promote your nonprofit’s fundraisers? Firespring is here to help. We offer expertise in multimedia marketing, advertising and managing events both online and in print. Give our event management tools a try at or find out more information by calling 877.447.8941.