Do You Have a Fundraising Reception Strategy?
We immediately watched as various groups arrived and stayed with each other. The host for the party made sure to engage everyone. The "A" listers began to mix with other "A's." Since the purpose was to meet a special celebrity, all were talking while keeping an eye open for that celebrity. When the celebrity arrived, it looked like a pecking order for attention was in place. Everyone quietly fell in line to meet the celebrity based upon perception of importance. Typically, fundraising professionals arrived at the end of the line. It is not about us.
My strategy for the reception was to meet the host and engage, meet key charity leaders I have worked with over a period of time, engage supporters for the charity, meet new prospects, and get a priceless picture with the celebrity. I must admit, the last item was actually my first priority. Even professionals are allowed a perk once in a while.
While I was disappointed that a few key people did not attend, I felt that I succeeded with my involvement in the reception. The reception was at an alumni house on a college campus. The time for the event was 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. We left at 9:10 p.m., and people were still at the activity. It was held on a Friday evening. The event was small by design, and there was an intimate feel to the evening. There were next-step discussions with a few key people. Everyone seemed to benefit from the event, which in part was to launch a young 501(c)(3) organization.
In summary, I suggest that you take future receptions seriously. Create a checklist, and critique your involvement after the event. Some points to consider:
- What are your personal goals for the event?
- Should you take someone with you (wife, boss, volunteer, etc.) or go alone?
- Who are the key people to meet, and what do you want to accomplish with them?
- Do you have business cards to share with others?
- Do you have people to invite, if relevant, to the event?
- Did you bring a camera to record moments?
- Did you learn anything from reception basics — location, time and place?
- Did the event include a program, and did the program focus on cultivation, stewardship or solicitation?
- Are you dressed appropriately?
- Did you follow up with those you met after the event?
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.