Nonprofit Event Marketing: 5 Tips and Best Practices

nonprofit event marketingJoshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for OneCause. Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.

Your nonprofit organization already works hard to optimize its campaign marketing and continuously refine its donor outreach strategies. You even take the time to segment your donors and target their communications in specific ways.

If you also host major events for your donors, members, or community at large, though, it’s crucial that you take a look at your overarching marketing strategies and continually think about ways to amplify their impact.

That’s because nonprofit event marketing requires a more unified and comprehensive approach to spreading the word and engaging potential attendees.

You can find the perfect new fundraising ticketing system, for instance, but its ease of use won’t make a difference if your event attendance is low anyway! Good nonprofit event marketing revolves around finding effective tools and incorporating them into your marketing messages.

Follow these 5 tips and best practices for boosting the impact of your nonprofit event marketing:

  1. Offer and market comprehensive registration tools
  2. Create intuitive email marketing engagement
  3. Fully connect your event to your campaign
  4. Market diverse giving channels and options
  5. Use integrated software to market and manage your event

Read through these best practices for some actionable advice and useful resources that can help make your nonprofit’s next major event an unprecedented success!

1. Offer and market comprehensive registration tools

nonprofit event marketing

The very first stage of your attendees’ experience should be perfect. That means that you have to offer an intuitive registration platform.

Importantly, though, top-notch event registration software will include features that can greatly simplify or augment your marketing strategies for the event as a whole.

If your organization has never used a dedicated registration platform for its events, or if it’s time for an upgrade, definitely check out this event fundraising software guide by OneCause.

For instance, the ability to create and publish dedicated microsites can be extremely important for your event marketing strategy. These sites will give you an organized place to host all your important event information, social media sharing tools, ticketing systems, and seating arrangements.

Most importantly, your event site will be a single, dedicated outlet to include in your event marketing material. Streamline your marketing by directing readers to this unified online destination for information and tools.

Additionally, great event registration platforms will give you ticket package customization options, which can become important marketing elements in themselves. Think of the ticket packages your different types of donors might find appealing:

  • Standard admission packages with options to buy extra food or drink vouchers
  • VIP of member packages including special receptions and promotions for other events
  • Early promotional packages that encourage early registration and ticket upgrades

Always keep marketing in mind when considering how you’ll let attendees register for your event since great registration tools will not only create an immediate positive impression but also include features that double as strong marketing assets.

2. Create intuitive email marketing engagement

nonprofit event marketing

Even in the age of social media dominance, tried-and-true email remains the most effective communication and marketing tool for nonprofits.

We’re all used to quickly deleting spam ads and clickbait emails from random companies without giving them a second thought, but emails from nonprofits are different. When a recipient recognizes your nonprofit, either through their past involvement or awareness of your work, they’ll take the time to fully read your subject line and then act from there.

Nonprofit email marketing tends to be effective, but smart nonprofits know that fully optimizing their emails that promote upcoming events or confirm registration means they need to implement email engagement best practices.

Embedded content and optimized email signatures with direct links to registration forms or event microsites provide intuitive ways for your readers to immediately act.

When optimized with embedded content or an email signature marketing platform like Sigstr, your event marketing emails will become extremely useful for converting potential attendees into registered donors.

You already follow general email marketing best practices, like segmenting your communications to different types of donors for different purposes. Now think about how you can best optimize your event marketing messages for each particular type of email you send, including:

  • General mailing list newsletters
  • Personal messages with major donors
  • Invitations to new prospects
  • Member and volunteer updates
  • Targeted campaign appeal messages

Email marketing, especially when promoting an upcoming event, is all about brevity and efficiency. This includes providing intuitive ways to immediately convert recipients into registered attendees or upgrade their involvement in your event. Write compelling calls to action and track your conversions to amplify the value of every email you send about your event!

3. Fully connect your event to your campaign

nonprofit event marketing

Organizations and business that conduct marketing of any kind must always remember to keep their messages human-focused. At this point in our digital culture, it’s a major turn-off for consumers or donors when they’re never given a human-oriented face or voice of your work.

Striking the perfect balance between marketing efficiency and human experience can be difficult, certainly, but nonprofits marketing their events typically have an easier time of it.

This is because, by continuously reconnecting the purpose of your events to your overarching campaigns or projects, your messages will stay entirely donor, volunteer, and stakeholder-oriented.

The purpose must not only be consciously connected to your organization’s campaign and mission, it also needs to be clearly communicated to your attendees and prospective attendees. Sure, your event looks fun in and of itself, but why are you hosting it?

Using your event marketing to remind donors of the real human connections that define your organization is the key to successful nonprofit event marketing. For instance:

  • Campaign competition events and grand finale ceremonies should all be clearly tied into the goals and progress of that specific campaign when you market those events. For ideas on the kinds of campaigns that lend themselves perfectly to engaging, small-scale events, check out the ultimate guide to peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Major galas are typically held for annual fund drives, as year-end wrap up events for major donors, or as kick-offs for major new campaigns. Always clearly communicate the scale of your new projects or your gratitude for donor support for your completed campaigns when marketing these events.
  • Auctions and raffles are often elements of ongoing campaigns. As extremely engaging events for donors of all types, make sure to segment your communications and clearly communicate how your auction fits into the overarching fundraising campaign and its goals. Auctions are fun, but remember to explain why you’re hosting one.

Remember, human-centered (not donation-centered) events drive continuous donor engagement. Your event marketing strategies should reflect this fact.

4. Market diverse giving channels and options

nonprofit event marketing

Let’s face it, no matter how flawlessly you market and promote your nonprofit’s upcoming event, some donors or members will simply not want to attend. They don’t have any ill will towards your organization, it’s just that they have a prior commitment or perhaps couldn’t resist having a quiet night in.

Since this is a fairly unavoidable element of any event planning, be sure to highlight all of your giving options in your event marketing material.

This way, you can provide channels for those invitees unable to attend to show their support while your organization is still on their mind. Particularly dedicated supporters will likely even feel guilty that they won’t be in attendance, so be sure to give them some options.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to include intuitive links to your event site or ways to give page in your marketing emails. Always ensure that any links in an email direct to a well-designed landing page. This will greatly reduce the bounce rate of visitors looking to learn more about how to support even without attending an event.

Provide and market your other unique giving channels, too, like:

  • Text-to-give. Supporters who won’t attend your event but still want to show their support can very quickly text you a donation. Letting them donate impulsively and efficiently is the key to making the most of the donor’s attention that your marketing has earned.
  • Mobile bidding. This solution is perfect for organizations that regularly host auctions. Set up mobile bidding capabilities for your events so all your supporters can participate through their mobile devices without necessarily being present at the auction itself.

As with other nonprofit tools, these giving options double as excellent marketing assets and unique features to incorporate into the live events themselves.

Giving both present attendees and remote supporters the ability to donate in new ways is a great way to build engagement and market a fun twist on your events.

5. Use integrated software to market and manage your event

nonprofit event marketing

Staying organized is key not only to a successful event but also to simplifying your entire event marketing strategy.

Having all your data and plans right where you need them goes a long way to keeping your marketing messages consistent and on brand.

You likely already use an event management system of some sort. Larger fundraising events would be logistical nightmares without them, after all. However, it’s important to find management software that can work seamlessly to incorporate all of your donor, attendee, and marketing data.

For example, check out Fonteva’s guide to Salesforce event management. In a comprehensive CRM like Salesforce, you can find the apps and tools you need to cover every aspect of your event planning and management. Plus, since the management is native to your CRM, all your donor and marketing data will be easily accessible.

Simplifying your event management process is crucial for successfully marketing your event. That’s because streamlining the event’s planning and logistics gives your team more time to consider the best ways to target invitees and tailor communications.

A top event management software solution will include a number of features that will boost your event marketing efforts, both directly and indirectly:

  • Salesforce or other CRM integration
  • Native registration and seating arrangement tools
  • Event microsite hosting
  • Automated email marketing and messaging
  • Customizable forms and donation pages

If your organization is in the market for a new event management system, remember that marketing tools should be a major priority when making a decision. The right software will simplify managing your entire event, including how you promote it to donors.

By consciously thinking through how your attendees will register, how they’ll interact with your emails, and how they’ll donate, you can market your event to them in ways that best align with their priorities and with your campaign’s goals.

Remember to take a broad view of both your overall marketing strategies and event tools. This way you’ll find the best points to intersect them and create some real buzz!