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How to Turn Event Participants into Long-Term Donors

September 26, 2014

Marathons, walkathons, other athletic events runs, educational seminars, and happy hours can help nonprofits use these events to identify new donors. These events are an entry point for many donors with a lot of new opportunity. The idea is to take those new event donors and cultivate to create them into organizational donors and build long lasting relationships with them. Nonprofits want to build relationships with them instead of just giving them an event t-shirt and seeing them the following year.


There are several steps when trying to gain new organizational donors.
1. Identify the prospects. Take a look at who participated in the event. At the point of registration, capture their information, how they heard about the event, why they support the organization, etc. Asking the participants why they support the organization is a revealing question. They might know someone involved or have some familiarity with the organization already.

2. Engage. The key is to build relationships with the participants who are involved and might also be interested in being a donor for the actual organization. Make a personal connection they can remember and get connected through all social media platform your business utilizes. The important tip that can sometimes be forgotten – get their business card! Now you have their email, phone number and a hard copy to remind you to get in contact with them tomorrow. Try to write a little one or two word note on the card about something you spoke to them about and use this memory when you connect on social media to create a stronger relationship that shows that you were engaged in your conversation.

3. Qualify. Know who could actually become a donor and who is in a start-up that wouldn’t have the budget. There are several drivers that get people active in events and the organization: affinity to organization, affinity to the mission, affinity to a person, affinity to the event and an affinity to a third party organization.

4. Cultivate. Continuously build your new relationship. Personally invite them to future events and stay in contact through social media.

5. Convert. This is all about team building, choose the players that enjoy your game. Once you have a strong relationship with a potential donor, put forth the effort to tell them about your organizations goals and mission. Now that you know them, you know what motivates them and what their passions are. Show them that your organization has similar interests and get them on your team.


The best thing organizations can do is start small. You don’t have to approach all 5,000 donors. Take a look at the identify stage and select a small sample group. Try getting your feet wet and tweak for your organization, donors, messaging as you learn.

Have more tips or suggestions? Please share them with us!

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