Marketing Tips for Walkathons and Other Eventful Fundraisers

April 15, 2024 0 Comments

Your nonprofit puts a lot of time and effort into planning your events. However, if no one knows that your event is taking place, you won’t be able to achieve a high turnout or meet your fundraising goals.

This is why a strong marketing strategy is essential. By sending the right donor communications and reaching your target audience where they are, you’ll be able to successfully promote your event and expand your nonprofit’s reach.

Let’s take a closer look at some common fundraisers and how you can amplify them on and offline to boost your registration and fundraising numbers:

As you’re planning your event, it’s important to leverage a fundraising platform that has built-in communication features and provides a seamless donation experience to your supporters. This will help you create highly relevant and impactful messages that will excite your supporters and inspire generosity.

Walkathons and Bikeathons

Walkathons and bikeathons are a popular fundraising idea among schools and nonprofits for a reason: they’re high-energy, rewarding, and allow supporters to play a greater role in your mission through peer-to-peer fundraising! To successfully amp up support for your -thon event, try these marketing strategies:

  • Outbound campaigns. Outbound campaigns can include email promotions, digital ads, and printed collateral that you might hang up at local businesses related to walk/bike/ride events (like athletic shoe stores or bike shops). This can promote your event to different groups of people, especially walkers and bikers, who would be interested in signing up for a charity event that also furthers their own goals.
  • Social media. Reach out to supporters with a large social media following and ask them to act as ambassadors for your cause. Ambassadors can share high-quality images and videos related to your event and direct their followers to sign up by including a link in the caption or their profile’s biography. You can also create a creative event hashtag and ask your ambassadors to include it in their posts—this can help your organization reach new audiences and maximize fundraising success. 
  • Peer-to-peer engagement. This type of social fundraising taps your most loyal supporters and turns them into avid fundraisers for your cause, giving your nonprofit more time to focus on running its event. With the right peer-to-peer fundraising software, you can help participants set up their own fundraising pages or team fundraising pages, share their progress, and promote their fundraising goal among their networks.

By taking advantage of more traditional methods as well as leveraging social media and peer-to-peer fundraising best practices, you’ll be on your way to hosting a winning event!

Golf Tournament Fundraisers

Golf tournaments are a great way to attract major donors. In addition to being highly engaging, golf tournaments can have several donation opportunities baked into them to raise even more funds for your cause—like purchasing mulligans, drink tickets, and caddie services.

Plus, this type of event offers your organization ample time for one-on-one conversations and relationship-building.

To effectively plan and market your golf tournament among your donors, you’ll want to follow a few key steps:

  • Secure corporate sponsorships. Research local companies who share similar values as your organization and have a corporate philanthropy program. 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate philanthropy explains that businesses can provide support in a variety of ways, such as sponsoring your event, providing in-kind donations, or even offering to match your donations. In exchange, your nonprofit can offer to include their company logo on your event microsite and on your event materials. 
  • Segment your communications. Depending on your target audience, you’ll want to vary your messaging. For major donors, start with a phone call and then send out an official email or printed invitation with the registration information. Then, print out flyers to post at your venue and share a digital version on social media to reach a general audience.
  • Share your registration form widely. Create a custom event page where people can easily register or get more information about your fundraiser. This should include the location of your event, its purpose, how the donations raised will be used, and the registration fee if applicable. Make sure your registration page is simple to fill out and mobile-friendly. 

You can even pair your golf tournament with an auction fundraiser to maximize impact and bring in even more support for your cause. Make sure your advertising materials reflect the exact activities that will take place and highlight how your donors’ support can help propel your mission forward.

Silent auctions

Silent auctions have many moving parts, like procuring the right items, setting up virtual streaming if you’re hosting it remotely, getting donors ready to use mobile bidding tools, and more. It’s therefore important that you keep your marketing efforts organized so your donors are excited to kickstart the bidding process and know exactly how to bid.

In order to promote your auction, consider the following:

  • Multichannel marketing. Use direct mail, email, social media, and other channels to reach and engage donors. Make sure to track engagement metrics so you can assess which content resonates the most with donors and where your marketing materials are most likely to be seen. Then, you can spend more time combining the right content strategies with the right platforms to boost your reach. 
  • Optimize your fundraising website. Include a link to your event registration page in each form of outreach to make it easy for people to register. Then, people can explore other content on your website to learn more about your nonprofit’s mission, helping them form an emotional connection with your cause and feel more passionate about supporting your fundraiser. 
  • Create a catalog. Come up with a list of auction items that will appeal to donors. From there, you can market those items ahead of the big event by offering supporters a sneak peek, such as sharing a few images of items that will be up for bid. 

According to the OneCause guide to silent auction software, the right fundraising tools can help you manage the entire planning process, from marketing your event and facilitating mobile bidding to streamlining checkout. Do your research to find a user-friendly platform that has these features and other intuitive tools designed to make fundraising as seamless as possible.

Fundraising galas

A fundraising gala typically consists of a formal dinner, some form of entertainment, and different activities geared at driving more revenue, such as text-to-give donation appeals, raffles, or silent auction tables.

As you prepare to market your gala, be sure to include:

  • Mobile-optimized ticket sales. Make sure people can easily purchase tickets to your event online and from their phones. Donors will appreciate this added convenience, increasing the likelihood that more people will purchase and attend. 
  • Email announcements. Start sending emails that address why your audience should come to the event. Be compelling and demonstrate the importance of the cause you’re championing.
  • Printed collateral. Be sure to give yourself enough time to create printed collateral, since printing takes an additional investment of time. You’ll want to include a QR code to your registration link on your printed materials and make sure the invitations go out at least four months before the event.

Start planning early and secure your venue, date, and speakers, and you’ll be on your way to hosting a successful gala! If you’re planning to host a virtual or hybrid gala, you’ll need to take extra steps to explain to your audience how this will work. Consider creating a dedicated section or page about it on your site that walks prospective attendees through the sign-up process and day-of event details.

4 Bonus Strategies for Post-Event Marketing

Your work isn’t over once your event concludes! Now, it’s time to build on those connections with your supporters and show why your organization is worthy of their ongoing support. Consider leveraging these best practices:

  • Send thank-you notes. Send out emails thanking guests for attending and for any specific donations or gifts. Your thank-yous should also explain how their donations will make a difference in your mission and the community you serve. For your major donors, send handwritten thank-you notes for an added personal touch. Make sure your campaign planning and management tools give you access to all of this data so you have the information readily available.
  • Create and share surveys. Asking attendees to complete a survey is a great opportunity to collect event data and get ideas on how to improve your next event.
  • Update your social media. For about a month following the fundraiser, you can update your social media pages with photos and videos from the event. This is an effective way to boost further engagement with your cause and encourage more people to attend next year. Be sure to tag guests and sponsors to further boost engagement and reach!
  • Start promoting your next event. Send out save the dates for your next event and link to your fundraising page, if available. Provide as much information as you can about your upcoming event to get people excited early.

From -thon style events to galas, you can make any fundraiser successful with the right marketing strategies. Invest in comprehensive software that will streamline your organization’s efforts, and you’ll be ready to tackle your next event without a hitch.