Small Events for Donor Engagement

By Kristin Hammett 6 months ago. Ministry TrendsMajor DonorsFundraising

Have you been out to dinner lately? Isn’t it fun to sit in a restaurant and have someone else prepare your food, serve it to you and do the dishes? My husband and I returned to the restaurant scene as pandemic restrictions lifted in our area. Our desire to return was mainly driven out of desire for normalcy and connection with the outside world. Someone else cooking was definitely a perk!

The pandemic has caused all of us to pause and take note of the little things we appreciate. Human connection and dinner out are just two small aspects of our pre-pandemic rhythm that have returned.

When the pandemic unfolded, there was a unique opportunity for nonprofit leaders to have some deeper connection time with donors. We encouraged you to call and ask how they were doing and offer to pray for them. We heard great responses from leaders around the country as their donors responded.

Just as calling and connecting in April of 2020 was a point of differentiation, so too is hosting small events in the summer of 2021. I just attended one such event in early June. It was refreshing to be with others, hear an update, learn of future plans, and be invited to invest in the future of the impactful work.

Ideas for Small Group Gatherings

I encourage you to consider a major donor gathering or a series of donor events. As you consider your plans, consider these ideas for small group gatherings.

  1. Limit the size and segment of donors. There is some flexibility here, but I suggest focusing the guest list on major donors. Perhaps even invite each donor couple to bring a friend who, if they were to learn more, may be inclined to support the ministry work.
  2. Gather in home, where possible. Ask a board member or major donor to host the event and keep it simple with catered food. The intimacy of being together in someone’s home or backyard helps donors connect – both with each other and with you. This also aids in engagement and excitement for the work.
  3. Be intentional with the program. The last year has had an array of impacts on organizations. Give your donors context for what the impact has been on your clients, your ability to do work, and your cause overall. Then, tell them how you are moving forward.
  4. Have a big vision. Major donors and DAF (donor advised fund) donors showed in 2020 that when the need is great, so is their generosity. This points to the need for a big vision. Be sure to share with your donors your big goal. If your resources were unlimited, what would you do?
  5. Ask. Do not be soft on the ask. Give them a report of the work and ask for their investment to continue to make an impact. Be bold and ask them to be bold in their generosity. Ask them to pray about it and follow up with a phone call in the next two days.
  6. Partner with The Signatry. Big visions are a catalyst for big gifts. We can help you educate your major donors on ways to give more generously by utilizing assets outside of cash. We are happy to talk with your donors as a referral, or we can connect with you more intentionally to strategically communicate the asset giving opportunity with donors.

When utilized well, the small gathering format is very strategic and impactful for engaging donors. It may be an event that remains part of your standard development strategy.

Let me know if you would like to talk about structuring a small donor event like this, or if you would like The Signatry to be a part of inspiring and facilitating revolutionary generosity with you. As always, we are for you.

Kristin Hammett
Kristin Hammett As the Director of Ministry Services at The Signatry, Kristin Hammett works to train, consult, and equip ministries with fundraising solutions to connect God's resources with His work

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