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What to Do if Your Event Doesn’t Reach Your Goal This Year

By October 14, 2021January 5th, 2023COVID-19 Fundraising, Fundraising

When Your Fundraising Event Doesn't meet your goalHybrid fundraising events are popping up everywhere this year as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic. Last year, online events were new and had an excitement that seems missing this year. Last year, many organizations I provided coaching for exceeded their goal. This year, things are looking different. Many people are experiencing online meeting fatigue. So, what to do if your event doesn’t reach your goal this year?

Let’s assume you’ve handled these pre-event activities well:
1. Spend more time PRIOR to the event engaging your supporters.

  • Start communicating with potential guests on social media and email at least 6 weeks before your event with short (45 to 60 second) videos to share mission moment stories that put a face on your important work.
  • Be clear what your funding gap or money story is so attendees know there is a reason to give.

2. Use multiple ways to allow both in-person and online guests to feel special. This takes more work, but it’s worth it.

Immediately following your event:

3. Make thank you phone calls to everyone who made a contribution. This is best done by board members. Penelope Burke says, “when a board member makes a follow-up call after a contribution, the next gift is nearly 40% higher AND the person stays giving for at least two more years.”
What to Do If Your Event Doesn’t Reach Goal This Year
4. Send an email to your entire community with a short inspiring message from one of your speakers.

  • Provide an update about where you’re now at in closing your funding gap. See example here.
  • Include a short thank you video (45 seconds or less).
  • Include at least 3 live links for readers to give using a button and/or live links in the copy.
  • Be sure to let readers know if you have matching gift dollars left.

5. Call and leave a voice mail message to guests who normally attend your event to let them know they were missed. Then send a follow-up email recapping your warm voice mail message and include a link to give. Be sure to remind them if you have any matching gift dollars left.

6. Phone donors who have a pledge payment due to check in and say hello. AND ask: “How can we support you in making your pledge payment?” Be sure to remind them if you have any matching gift dollars left.

7. Reach out to people who have not yet given this year and invite their contribution now.

  • Before or after you call share the short testimonial video you used to “warm-up” your guests prior to the event.
  • During or after your call provide an update on what it takes to fully fund your mission and what it takes to support one person like the one highlighted in the testimonial video.

The most important thing we can ALL do is to not hide the truth. Your community wants to make an impact. They may be in a different place financially this year, so, accept and gratefully acknowledge any and all gifts you receive.

What to do if your event doesn’t reach goal this year? Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and create plan B or C.

Crafting and sharing your money story is part of being an effective fundraiser. It is also a muscle we don’t use often enough.

Next week (October 20) join me for powerful coaching on what I call, Advanced Storytelling. It may be the answer to closing out the year exceeding your fundraising goal.

One Comment

  • Gale Hemmann says:

    Thanks, Lori! Always great to see your blog and your takes on ideas. We are planning a hybrid 51st birthday celebration for our org next year, and also completing a capital campaign started pre-pandemic. Doing a short video now, and it’s great to see your ideas!!


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