Friday, May 2, 2014

Tailoring Your Event to Suit Your Audience

By: Samantha Swaim
Having an event is one thing, but crafting your event to suit your audience is one of the big keys to a successful fundraising event. Having an event that engages your crowd, pulls them into the program and excites them to give doesn’t happen if you don’t take them into account during your planning. This can become especially true with long-standing events at organizations whose donor bases may have shifted some over time.

It’s a good idea to look at your crowd and ask, “What will engage them?”

Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp asked this question and this year’s Great Gatsby events were the result. Previously, they had one nighttime event that tried to accomplish everything for a widening support base. And in doing so, they were hitting a fundraising ceiling and felt unable to take their event to the next level. 

This year they took a good look at the history of guests at their event and found that it started to filter into a couple of different camps. One group really loves a big silent auction, blackout board, lower ticket prices and to be done at a decent hour. The other group was willing to spend more on a ticket and generally moved away from the silent auction toward a more robust live auction. 

Great Gatsby Brunch
So they split their event into two. The morning champagne brunch event offered a wine toss and blackout board as activities during the larger silent auction with a variety of price points and two closures. The crowd then moved into a buffet brunch. The live auction during this program featured all of the Kiwanis Club baskets that are put together every year as a friendly competition and fundraiser. It allowed the organization to celebrate the Clubs that have been a wealth of support and volunteer resource for the camp for decades, and for those baskets to raise more than they have in a silent auction setting. Different incentives were offered at different levels of the special appeal to galvanize giving. There was even an auction of the floral centerpieces so that by the end of the brunch they were all cleared to make room for the evening’s décor.

Brunch Decor
Then, with this successful event under their belt, MHKC flipped the venue and prepared for their nighttime program. The Gala featured a smaller silent auction with specific wine featured to appeal to the interests of this different crowd. Instead of a blackout board, they sold wild card raffle tickets at a higher price point allowing the winner to pick a live auction item off the auction block. 

Gala Decor
They then moved the guests into the dining room where a seated dinner after the sun had gone down lent to a more Gala-like air. The live auction was specifically procured to be all trips and travel to match the spending interest of the crowd. There was time at the end of the program where the band played and guests were able to continue socializing into the night.

Great Gatsby Gala
They were able to achieve this onsite with the use of as many elements as they could between the two events. The theme connected the two to allow for décor elements to be in place for both. They used the same videos for each appeal, but changed the speaker. They used two different bands to create different feels. They changed linen color and centerpieces. Registration stayed the same and reset for the second event.  

By taking a look at how their audience was splitting, they were able to meet them where they wanted to be met and as a result they were able to break through the fundraising ceiling they had not been able to previously. Creating an event and hoping it works for your audience will never raise as much as if you design your event for your audience. Your donor base changes over time and if your events aren’t changing to match, you’re missing a big opportunity.

No comments: