Fundraising Event Journals Go Digital
The "ad journal" or printed program book with sponsor ads has long been part of the formula for success in classic event fundraising. Ad journals are generally distributed to guests at dinner galas, awards luncheons, cocktail events, some golf outings and other fundraisers.
Typically, these magazine-type booklets feature:
- event programs/menus/schedules
- mission information about the host organization
- messages from directors and chair people
- event committee, board and trustee listings
- biographies of honorees, award winners, emcees, celebrity hosts, etc.
- ads that recognize corporate and individual donors and reflect their levels of contribution
Guests flip through the ad journals during event speeches, usually skimming content and looking for their own ads. At the end of the event, many are left on the table or floor or brought home to be permanently shelved. A handful of copies become mementos for honorees and historical records for the staff who labored to produce them. Year after year, thousands of dollars and untold hours of labor are invested in these books, only to have them discarded after the event.
This has led some organizations to abandon printed journals altogether and rely on other methods to encourage donations.
The majority of nonprofit organizations are open to new ideas that can expand fundraising opportunities and reach new donor markets. The journal, in particular, is adaptable to today's "green" ideology and digital technologies. Communication via technology appeals to younger donor bases, important in injecting new lifeblood into nonprofits. Digital journals also can make what was previously a passive book into a dynamic event marketing and fundraising tool.
Depending on the organization's resources, digital solutions can be "do-it-yourself" or provided by a specialized company. These digital journals (also called e-journals and virtual journals) can often work within existing budgets for printed journals, while offering added value that might lead to higher donations. They may even cost less than some organizations' printed books.
Today's innovative alternatives range from e-journal PDFs to online "flip" books and PowerPoint displays at the event. Many function passively like the printed journal books of the past. A more dynamic option is an e-journal website, a microsite that is linked from the nonprofit's event Web page. The e-journal site can promote the event; provide details such as attire and schedule; and even include links for directions, calendar notices that can be downloaded and integrated online purchases. These sites feature color ads that link to sponsor websites and are generally complemented by a digital journal presentation at the event.
New features afforded by digital technology streamline the tedious journal process for donors, guests and event staff. For example, ads can be submitted directly online. Ads that require design can be created into elegant messages consistent with branding for the event.
Marketing value of Web-based journals
With the integration of social media, these event-specific sites can be shared with thousands of friends and colleagues of committee members and constituents who are not on traditional mailing lists. E-mail marketing can promote relevant and timely messages, driving traffic back to the e-journal website for further action. This type of event promotion is critical in attracting event donors under the age of 40 as well as corporate supporters with digital marketing platforms.
As dated methods of event fundraising fade away, digital journals can remain viable fundraising vehicles for years to come. By translating what has made the printed journal a successful tool for so many fundraising events into a more contemporary format, digital journals can offer more value than ever to sponsors, guests and staff.
Karen Perry-Weinstat is founder and president of Event Journal Inc. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org