6 Steps to Getting in Donors’ Pockets at Your Next Event

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68% of US adults own a smartphone making it the fastest adopted piece of technology in history. Smartphones empower you to reach your donors wherever they are: at home, at work, and on the go.

Donors’ pockets

Smartphones are just that—smart. So why not use them to your full advantage? From registration and ticketing to event giving and follow up, implementing mobile technology is key to a successful fundraising event. Here are some mobile fundraising and communication strategies that your organization needs to engage donors, market your mission, and—most importantly—get your donors to give.

Using the right mobile technology allows your organization to have the capacity to streamline event planning and execution even with the smallest of staff.

Whether your nonprofit is just starting out or long established, read on to learn the proven keys to making your organization’s next event its best one yet.

The Six R’s of Fundraising Events

Registrations: Invite supporters to sign up for your event and spread the word across social and personal networks.

Reminders: Keep your event top of mind with supporters to boost attendance and participation.

Revenues: Focus on how you’ll get people to give, and figure out key ways to inspire them to maximize donations.

Results: Create an exciting moment of giving that inspires audiences to give and join the community.

Recognition: Thank donors and honor your supporters with personalized messages and follow up.

Realization: After every campaign, take the time identify ways to increase success and reduce failure.

Step 1: Registrations

Donors’ pockets

RSVPs, Ticket Sales, Sponsorships, & More

Sign-ups are the most important part of your nonprofit fundraising event plan. After all, what’s an event without attendees? Give yourself plenty of lead time in order to maximize RSVPs and ticket sales, plan any sponsorships, and set the tone for the event.

Mobile solutions allow you to easily announce and promote your event across channels and encourage digital registrations and ticket sales with minimal admin time and resources.

The sign-up process should be seamless and accessible from any device—especially a smartphone. Nearly 20% of event registrations come from mobile devices. Without a mobile solution, you’ll miss out on potential RSVPs and donations! Mobile solutions allow you to easily streamline event registration and ticketing to allow your supporters to sign up in seconds from any PC, tablet or smartphone.

Step 2: Reminders

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Email, Text, Social Media, and Direct Mail

Promote event registration and details across channels with reminders and calls-to-action on all marketing materials and social networks. Will there be special giveaways? Surprise guests? Tiering your event marketing efforts by releasing bits of information along the way keeps your supporters engaged and interested, and your event top of mind. You can even encourage out-of-towners to make donations that will be displayed on-screen at the event.

Increase your response rates by 400% when you couple text reminders with event emails and direct mail.

This is the magic formula for digital donor engagement. The more people hear about an event, the more likely they are to register for it! By utilizing text reminders and more traditional promotional channels, you’ll boost participation—the important first step in guaranteeing the success of your event.

Step 3: Revenues

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Donations, Ticket Sales, Sponsorships Matching Funds, Auctions, and More

The purpose of hosting an event is clear: to raise money for your cause. But the way you do that can greatly affect your fundraising success. Instead of relying on one source of revenue, it is best to vary your approach and collect funds from ticket sales, corporate and personal sponsorships, auctions, out-of-towner gifts, event donations, and matching funds. This tactic empowers supporters with a variety of ways to give before, during, and after the event.

Step 4: Results

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Reach Fundraising, Donor Acquisition, & Recurring Gift Goals

Setting a fundraising goal for your event and showing progress ensures attendees have a clear-cut idea of what you’re looking to accomplish. The event emcee should recognize donors in real-time and reinforce how meeting that fundraising goal will impact your organization. Encourage attendees to give by mobile pledge or cash or check. Keep the giving momentum by manually entering revenues from out-of-towner donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions items, and matching gifts.

Donations increase by 35% when pledges are displayed in real-time on a fundraising thermometer.

In addition to a variety of revenue types, a live event thermometer creates a moment of excitement that inspires even more donations. Instruct participants to use their smartphones to text a keyword to a shortcode to display their name, donation, and message live on-screen right from their smartphones.

Step 5: Recognition

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Recognize Donors, Donations & Volunteers

You always want to show your appreciation for your donors and event attendees, but to guarantee long-term success you must give them more than just a simple thank you. Showing attendees the direct impact that their donations and volunteer hours have on your cause is vital.

Let them know how valuable they are in a tangible, heartfelt way that will inspire them to stay involved and giving long after your event has ended. The key to keeping donors engaged and giving lies not in their wallets but in their hearts.

Follow up is key!

After making a gift or attending an event, donors should be sent a text message with a personal thank you and a link to a short video that shows the direct impact they have on your cause. When donors see the impact they are making, they are likely to give more and more often.

Step 6: Realization

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Relationships are the Lifeblood of Your Mission

Reaching fundraising goals is important, but cultivating donor, volunteer, and advocate relationships is the real key to success.

Whether it’s a dinner, luncheon, run/walk, or other fundraising event idea, take time after every event to realize what worked and what didn’t. Try to figure out what motivates those who are most passionate about your cause, and think about how you can use mobile technology to your full advantage in targeting your audience. Then, take the steps necessary to empower supporters with the tools they need to make a difference.

Other ideas?

Follow these six tips at your next event and you’ll be on your way to engaging supporters and meeting your event fundraising goal in no time. Which of these proven tactics will your organization be implementing? Add your ideas in the comments!

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About the Author


Sean MacNeill

Sean MacNeill is CEO of MobileCause, the world’s leading mobile and online fundraising and communication software. He is dedicated to helping organizations raise more money while saving them valuable time and resources by putting the most powerful tools into the hands of those doing the most good.



Hey Sean, thanks for the great article and nice job tying many of the successful strategies to the six R’s.

You’re spot on that enabling potential supporters to easily Register and then Reminding them is essential early steps. But one thing that’s important to a successful fundraising event is really thinking through what sort of idea is most effective for the specific organization. We put together a list of 83 fundraising ideas at https://doublethedonation.com/fundraising-ideas/ with the goal of providing a good idea for every type of organization.

For instance, animal shelters could host a walk-and-paw-a-thon, a spin on the traditional run/walk/ride event. If an organization can find an event that really interests supporters they’re far more likely to succeed in all of the other R’s you mentioned.

One other point that I love that’s rarely talked about is the “Realization” stage. So many organizations invest so much time into the execution of a fundraising idea that they rarely reflect on the successes/failures of an event. It’s really an essential step for every organization and it’s not talked about enough so kudos!



It’s amazing to me in a world full of technology how many groups fail to take advantage of any data drive strategy.

You are spot on that the world has changed and there is no reason that you should not be fully engaged with your donor base.

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