Thank you to everyone who joined our latest lunch and learn session on Fundraising Events 101.
A huge thank you to our panelists Laura Howard (Events Manager, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), Gwenni Jenkins-Jones (Development Manager – Operations, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) and Nadia Vistisen (Senior Events Producer, Art Fund) for sharing their insight and advice on planning, managing and delivering Fundraising Events.
Missed the event? We got you! Below are some key takeaways and top tips on Fundraising Events…
🌟 Start with your objective for the event: are you looking to steward existing supporters, cultivate new ones, or both? Consider how an event ties into a campaign or into your annual programme, looking ahead to the year’s structure to give time to plan on what events are upcoming. Make sure other teams understand why the event is important to the organisation and why they should buy in – especially in small organisations, where you may cover lots of functions, champion the work of fundraising to rally support across the board.
🌟 Quality over quantity, especially after Covid. Consider the admin of multiple events and how you can make an event work across different funding streams, for multiple audiences or different supporter groups. Capacity in arts organisations is often relatively small, so think about why are you doing an event, can this be part of something else, or how can you make it hit multiple objectives at once? This is especially useful in a smaller organisation or if you don’t have much budget to spend: events are on a sliding scale, so think about what you want from an event and what you can afford.
🌟 Cross collaboration is key to involve different stakeholders at events. Sit down with colleagues from different teams to discuss the content and the logistics beyond the general objective. Consider who are the stakeholders to consider beyond your patrons – who is the project supporting, how can they be engaged with the content and to show the importance of these fundraising relationships? Have regular planning and briefing meetings across departments and send briefing documents to ensure that stakeholders know the event’s goals and who to talk to at the event. Set up a wash-up briefing after every event to include invite responses, attendees and logistical feedback on venue, catering etc., to ensure smoother future planning.
🌟 Think of how the content can work for you: as an arts organisation, build your events programme around your existing core programme, to show your full remit and speak to all your stakeholders. Remember supporters are supporting your organisation because of who you are and your wider mission, so how does the content of the event speak to the wider vision and represent who you are as an organisation?
🌟 Follow up communication is a key next step after the event, so prepare in advance. Even if someone can’t attend , it’s still a key moment to engage with them by sending them a recording, a recap, or a follow up to keep them intrigued by the invite – every invitation is an opportunity to tell a story.
🌟 Set the goal of ensuring diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your mind from the beginning of your planning process. This can encompass e.g. choosing speakers, working with local businesses or supporting diverse suppliers to make sure that content, staffing and audiences are inclusive.
🌟 In the current post-COVID environment, hybrid events are still a great tool for people regionally and internationally, although there is a want for in-person events. As people are much more amenable to cancelling, consider drop-out rates and adjusting event timings based on new working patterns with people working from home.