Hosting a successful fundraising event starts long before your guests walk through the door

You need to create synergy among the cause, company and consumer from the time you conceive the event through the big day or night. Here's how to make your next fundraising event your most successful to date.

Generate Offline and Digital PR

To create buzz for your event, make sure to:

• Alert those in your existing network about the event

• Mail invitations and send direct mail promotions

• Use phone banks to call potential donors

• Attend networking events related to the cause

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While offline strategies such as these are essential, a digital PR strategy will help you reach new audiences. You need to:

• Create useful blog content that includes tie-ins to the fundraising event and seed the content through social networks and social influencers

• Use paid media, such as Google Ads or Facebook Advertising, to expose your event to targeted potential attendees
• Connect with media professionals through sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn to obtain possible newspaper and television coverage of your event

Promote the event through email newsletters and devise fundraising opportunities before the event. Raffle ticket pre-sales and VIP packages help foster excitement for attendees, while integrating a donation option during the ticket purchase process gets the ball rolling, suggests online fundraising software Network for Good.

Make the Event Memorable

A welcoming atmosphere at the actual event makes people more likely to reach into their wallets. A 2009 study by Brigham Young University and published by Science Daily found clean-smelling environments cause people to be more generous compared to neutral or foul-scented ones, so keep your event area pristine to inspire giving.

Offer plenty of delicious and satisfying food and beverage options, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free bites. Alcohol in addition to water and fountain drinks helps loosen attendees up, while elevated adult beverages such as the smooth Guinness Nitro IPA impress with thoughtfulness. Passed plates by professional servers ensure no guest is hungry or thirsty. Other at-the-event tips:

• Feature entertainment your guests will like, such as quality bands, magic acts or dancers that appeal to a wide variety of tastes

• Remind guests about what they're supporting by integrating cause-related materials into the décor, including photo banners of those who will be helped by donated funds and video screens running slideshows related to the fundraising

• Include a guest speaker who has been personally touched by similar fundraising efforts in your programming

• Keep the positive sentiment alive long after guests leave by handing them a goodie bag related on their way out (you can entice swag sponsors before the event by offering them branding opportunities and social media promotion)

• Include ways for them to donate after they leave

Don't Forget to Follow Up

After the event, send personalized thank you cards to attendees. Tell them you appreciate their time and support, and share a new success story that directly shows the impact the fundraising event has had on the cause.

Share photos and videos from the fundraising event on your cause's social media sites, and share links with attendees so they can alert their followers about its success and spread the word, as well. Include a call to action on follow-up materials that it's never too late to donate, and make donating simple and easy with secure online transactions and conversion websites that are responsively designed to work on any device.

Conduct an assessment of successes and opportunities for improvement for your next event, and keep the buzz going by using event content in "#ThrowbackThursday" posts on social media. Make donors the stars by conveying genuine thanks and support, and you'll turn them into loyal advocates who can aid in continued fundraising while you plan your next event.

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