The financial success of your fundraising event depends largely on the attendance of your biggest donors. Chances are these top donors are patrons of other philanthropic organizations as well, which means you’ll have to compete for their attention. It’s crucial to give your most important guests a memorable experience to ensure they return to your event and contribute year after year.
So how do you leave a lasting impression with your top donors?
By treating them like the VIPs they are!
Going the extra mile to make sure your VIPs have a special evening will let them know how important they are to your organization, helping you cultivate stronger donor relationships and counteract donor fatigue.
Here are five ways to give donors the VIP treatment at your next fundraiser auction items event.
1. VIP Parking
Small inconveniences like looking for a parking spot can start the evening off on the wrong foot – especially if you’re hosting a larger event where parking can be tricky.
To prevent these little frustrations from ruining your guests’ evening, create a VIP parking section or offer free valet services to your biggest donors. You can also provide a separate VIP check-in line to reduce waiting time gaining entry to the event. The fewer hassles donors have to deal with, the better their experience will be.
2. VIP Reception
Before your event starts, show how much you appreciate your biggest donors' contributions of time and money by hosting a pre-event reception, complete with cocktails and appetizers. At the reception, present plaques that donors can display at their homes or workplaces, or give out wearable recognition - such as lapel ribbons - for donors to wear during the event.
If you make an effort to recognize your donors for their contributions during the event, you will remind them how important they are to your organization. You might also consider letting donors get a “sneak peek” at the live and silent auction items so they can plan their bids.
3. VIP Auction
During your pre-event reception, hold a small, exclusive auction with one or two items meant only for your VIPs. Keep in mind that you still want your top donors to participate during the actual event, so don’t select items that are so high in value that it will discourage them from bidding again. The items you choose for your VIP auction should be simple, fun and unique, such as lunch and a round of golf with the chairman of the board of directors.
4. VIP Seating
Large donors who appreciate the special treatment may also like to stand out as VIPs. Reserve a group of tables towards the front of the room for your top donors and publicly recognize any significant contributions made in the last year, including last year's event. Grouping your VIPs together and acknowledging them for their support might motivate other like-minded donors to give or bid more during the event.
5. VIP Treatment
Throughout the event, there are plenty of opportunities to give your top donors special attention. Hand out small gifts and thank you cards, serve specialty wine, provide complimentary coat check or whatever else you might think of to make the evening more enjoyable for your donors.
Your most important donors will only be able to enjoy the VIP treatment if they attend, so make sure you promote any valet services, VIP reception or other offering in a special invitation so they know about it prior to the event.
Giving your bigger donors the VIP treatment is a win-win strategy because it will keep them coming back year after year as well as motivate other donors to contribute more. Let us know if you have any methods for acknowledging your VIP's by posting a comment!
With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.
Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.