Practical Planning Strategies for Marketing Your Fundraising Events
- Start from the event date, and count backward to calculate when the invitation should be received. Then mark this on the calendar.
- Block out labeling and mailing time, and mark that date.
- Block out design and approval time, allowing an extra week or two for vacations and business engagements by decision makers. Do this for each item.
- Plan multiple letters and e-mails to create a campaign. Repetition of message is essential. Be sure to add e-mail communications beginning at least five months in advance of the date to create growing awareness and excitement as the event approaches and the invitations arrive.
Managing the calendar gets interesting when additional events are added, but doing the above for each will make everything less overwhelming. Inevitably, project schedules for save-the-date designs, invitation layouts, event websites and Web pages will overlap considerably.
Opportunities for cross-marketing of events by promoting upcoming dates and distributing literature to attendees at earlier events will become apparent. In some cases, donors will receive intermittent communications for more than one event. This should not be a concern … they will pay attention to what interests them and possibly be drawn into a higher level of involvement and contribution. In other cases, by having materials earlier, you’ll reach potential corporate sponsors at more advantageous times in their budget cycles (in fact, this should be on the planning calendar as well). An event is much more likely to be included in a sponsor’s budget if compelling materials are submitted when it allocates its charitable dollars rather than when you get around to sending the packet.
It’s very likely that there will be times when two events require simultaneous promotion. Stick to the plan! Do not miss the opportunity to market a golf outing or fashion show just because it’s six weeks until your gala. Because you’ve carefully planned out the communications for the first event, there shouldn’t be any scrambling to begin arrangements for what’s next.