Great nonprofit event management means smart marketing strategies on several fronts
Holding an event for your nonprofit organization can be a great way to get the word out about your organization’s cause and network with other innovators within your field. To make sure your upcoming event reaches a wide audience and gathers a large crowd, you need to promote your event well in advance and through multiple platforms.
Nonprofit events, large and small, will be most successful with a variety of marketing tactics to get the most potential attendees. With careful planning, spreading the word and thoughtful execution, your event will get the attention it deserves and be well-attended.
Save the date
A save the date email is the best way to kickstart a longer email marketing campaign (talked about later) for your event. To give your audience plenty of time to plan and mark their calendars for the event, be sure to send this out six to 12 months in advance. The initial save the date email should be a concise and clear introduction with just enough information for your audience to get the basics of your event:
- Name of your event
- Your organization’s name
- Date and location
- The event and organization’s mission
After announcing the details of your event, you want to make sure your audience knows how to reach you by including your contact info and buttons or links to your organization’s website and social media platforms.
Social media is now an essential tool every organization needs in order to maintain their supporters’ attention and gain new support. If your nonprofit does not already have a social media presence, right before an event is not the best time to start from scratch—it’s better to wait and focus on building your social media presence after the event as part of your organization’s overall marketing strategy.
If your nonprofit already has an established social media presence, however, there are countless opportunities for you to promote your event through social media. In the months leading up to your event, be sure to consistently share photos and content about your event. This could be photos of the preparation, stories about volunteers or those involved, a hashtag promoting your event, graphics counting down to the event and more. The possibilities are endless. Along with sharing, be sure to ask your followers to share posts, too, so that their followers can know about the event and your reach can grow even more.
Avoid being overwhelmed by creating a content calendar that shows your goals for each week and schedules out all the content that aligns with your set goals. Some tools that can help with scheduling content across multiple social media platforms include Hootsuite, HubSpot and Meet Edgar. All of these offer options that are free as well as services that incorporate analytics and insights for a fee.
Email marketing is another component to boost attention for your nonprofit’s event. After sending your introductory Save the Date email, continue to remind your audience of your event through updates, interesting details and new developments surrounding your event. This could be a chance to tell longer form stories that you’ve touched on through social media or go into more detail about the latest news.
The most important aspect of the email campaign should be to lead your audience to your nonprofit’s website and/or social media pages—especially if your event requires an RSVP. Like the Save the Date email, you want to include buttons and links to your organization’s websites.
Writing a press release for your event is the first step toward getting media coverage on your event. There is a specific format for press releases (here’s a great example), and it is easy to follow. As you’re following the template, be sure that the content of your press release is captivating and engaging. You want to grab your reader with a story, but you also want to do it concisely.
The timing for sending out press releases is very different from email marketing. Since you’re targeting journalists, you want to give them enough time to plan for the event, but you also don’t want to send it too far in advance. Two to three weeks before your event is the ideal time to send press releases out.
Calls to action
A call to action can come in many forms. It can be a statement at the end of your email campaign, a photo series as a part of your social media content or a landing page on your website. All of these approaches have the potential to be effective as long as the call to action is done right.
If you’re including your CTA at the end of your emails, make sure that it is short but impactful. You want to get as much said as you can in one or two sentences. If you’re creating a landing page for your website, you want this to be well designed and powerful as well. This could be through engaging copy or photos that tell your event’s mission.
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, but it still works today. People are more inclined to trust their friends’ recommendations over companies or organizations. Harness this strategy by investing in the network you already have around you. By getting your employees, volunteers and supporters enthusiastic about your event, you are planting the seed for your event’s reach to grow.
Local media is a great way to get coverage on your event and reach a wider audience. The best way to start reaching out to local media is to research news outlets and the reporters and journalists that work with there. You could find a publication that covers charities and nonprofits or a reporter that writes about local events. Seek out these opportunities with people and outlets that are already interested in what you are doing and reach out to them.
The best way to reach out is through email with the press release you’ve made for the event. If you’re not able to find a specific reporter’s email, most news outlets will have a news desk or general news inquiry email you can reach and you can mention the reporter in your introduction.
Firespring: Nonprofit marketing: The ultimate guide to promoting your next event by Pamela Kilzer
Nonprofit Hub: How to hype up your next fundraising event by Lyndsey Hrabik
Winspire: “Save the Date” email invites: 8 easy ways to make your fundraiser stand out by Summy Lau