Is your special event on-brand?
Maybe it’s the lineup of weddings on my calendar this summer, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what a wedding says about a couple. What’s their style and personality? What are their interests? How do the choices about their special day reflect their values? Every detail communicates something, from the venue, to the vows, to the band.
The same goes for nonprofit special events. Although it’s debated whether a gala is still a cost-effective fundraising strategy (the amount of time and money to pull it off can be astronomical), most groups still rely on in-person events for a sizable chunk of their annual revenue. While the bottom line of a fundraiser should be, well, raising funds, it’s also an important touchpoint with your nonprofit’s community of supporters, and likely one of the few in-person experiences your donors will have with you this year. So how can you make it as successful as possible?
In addition to getting creative with new tactics to raise money (I personally still adore a tried-and-true silent auction, though text-to-give technology seems to be a popular trend these days), try thinking of your special event as a brand awareness opportunity. It’s a platform to communicate through the lens of your nonprofit’s brand to send a strong and focused message about who you are as an organization, and what you can make possible with the support of all the attendees. After all, branding isn’t a finite process; it should be a dynamic element of your nonprofit that comes to life with every audience interaction. The invitation, printed program, speeches, videos, and even the follow-up communications after the event are all opportunities to reinforce a unified, focused, and compelling message about your work. These events offer your organization a setting to bring attention to your brand, and to witness how powerful a strong, coherent brand can be for your nonprofit.
Now that spring gala season is underway, I’d suggest that you consider this—when your guests leave the venue at the end of the night, how do you want them to feel, and what is the big idea you want them to hold on to about your organization? If you keep the answer to that question top of mind as you finalize all the details and gear up for the big night, chances are your event will start to look a little different…and hopefully be a lot more memorable.