How To: Solicit The Ideal Donation At Your Next Event

When hosting a fundraising event, your attendees are primed to donate. Just how much you can ask them for depends on many things including the formality of the event, what the donation translates to, and whether they could receive anything in return. Let’s dive into each of these factors and determine how they can guide your suggested donation amount and how to best encourage repeat donations.

How formal is your event?

If your attendees have purchased a high priced ticket and are expected to attend in black-tie attire, it would be a lost opportunity to set a suggested donation between $1 and $5. These attendees are expecting to donate higher amounts and you can likely suggest donation amounts in the range of $50-$200 if not higher. The key to getting those higher donation amounts is conveying how the funds will be used.

What does the donation get used for?

Invite your donors into your strategic vision by making it clear WHY your overall fundraising goals are what they are. How are you communicating the effects of your donor base’s contributions? At DipJar, we’ve seen some excellent examples of organizations using a display to tie donation amounts to a tangible object that the donor is “giving”.

For example, Boston-based organization Dress for Success set a donation amount for a pair of shoes, four pairs of pantyhose or a purse. Donors were excited to give a specific item rather than just an amount.

In another example, Licking County Family YMCA had a display that read “$25 = one day of summer camp for a child with special needs”. As a result, their 70 person event brought in 27 $25 donations!

What does the donor get in return?

Whether it’s raffles, swag, or a fuzzy feeling inside… ALL donors are selfish. Your donors are (not so surprisingly) motivated to donate when it has the potential to benefit them.

Yes, they can feel a benefit figuratively, but a tangible exchange will drive more donations than pulling at the heart-strings every day of the year. It can be as basic as handing out stickers when someone makes a donation and as elaborate as football squares. You can motivate your donor to give by offering:

  • VIP tickets to the event, including food and drinks tickets, prime seating, and a behind-the-scenes tour
  • Tiered prizes, such as branded merchandise for gifts of $50-$100 and free sports game tickets for gifts from $200-$300
  • A shoutout in your nonprofit’s upcoming newsletter or social media posts
  • Invites to a meet-and-greet featuring your team, board members, and beneficiaries
  • The chance to submit questions to a nonprofit influencer in your upcoming webinar
  • Themed goodie bags for your nonprofit’s event
  • Merchandise branded to your nonprofit
  • Induction into your Donor Hall of Fame

Keep in mind that these ideas appeal to different tiers of donors based on how much they give. Work with your team to determine which rewards make the most sense for your nonprofit’s budget, audience, and event theme. Once you decide on your rewards for the event, make sure to market your ideas in your event’s fundraising letters to motivate more RSVPs.


About the Author:

Danielle Urban is the marketing director at DipJar, a company specializing in point-of-sale devices for the nonprofit sector.