Seven Strategies for Successful Fundraising Events in 2023

Fundraising events have become increasingly challenging for nonprofits and charities over the past few years. There’s a lot that goes into planning, executing, and launching a successful event — on top of keeping your donors engaged throughout the whole process. Do you have a plan for keeping your donors engaged during your in-person and online events this year? 

In a recent webinar, Blackbaud and ClickBid teamed up to provide you with the proven strategies you need to know to engage your donor base and raise more money during your fundraising events. 

Click below to access to the full webinar or keep reading to learn seven key strategies for running a successful event. 

How to Run a Successful Fundraising Event in 2023 

1. Maximize Your Virtual Venue 

Before COVID-19, many fundraising events took place in-person. During COVID-19, fundraising events took place solely online. 

Fast forwarding to today with the adoption of a hybrid worldview, your fundraising events should be conducted in the same way. With the capabilities of both in-person and online events, your fundraising events should have two venues. The in-person venue, and the online or “virtual venue.” 

As you already know, in-person events create a great opportunity for expanding your network, personally interacting with your donors and sponsors, and raising funds for your organization. But how can having a virtual venue support your in-person event? 

With virtual venues, you’re not limited by the number of hours that you can afford to rent them. It’s available months in advance and months after the event. However, your virtual venue shouldn’t just act as your event landing page — it should be a functional venue for your audience that works as a side-by-side extension of your in-person venue. 

Your virtual venue should become a single place for: 

  • Ticket sales 
  • Sponsorship info 
  • Registration 
  • Auction preview 
  • Event details 
  • Donations 
  • Pre-event check-in 

Setting up a virtual venue can not only improve the overall event experience but increase the total donation amount as well. 

2. Secure Auction Items to Boost Your Event Experience 

There are a million moving pieces when it comes to managing your fundraising events. When it is done right, your virtual venue should save you time and boost the event experience for your donors. 

How is that accomplished? One way is by securing auction items on your virtual venue. This can happen by embedding a submission form on your virtual venue that allows donors to provide you with: 

  • Auction item information 
  • Pictures of the auction item 
  • Details about the fair market value 
  • And more 

Having donors fill out their data beforehand makes the whole process quick and easy. All you have to do is pick a starting bid, an increment, and a closing time. From there, the information will instantly populate your auction catalog. 

Let’s say that saves you about an hour of your time. You no longer have to take pictures of the items and do all the research and writing. If 15 people submitted auction items through your virtual venue, that’s 15 hours that you’ll save. 

3. Leverage Communication Templates 

Clear communication is a big part of hosting a successful event. With several moving pieces, multiple volunteers to coordinate, and hundreds of donors to inform, having a communication template can help keep you on track.  

You can start by creating a simple content publishing checklist. This includes identifying a list of the emails you need to send, the text messages that have to go out, the social media posts that need to be published, and other content communication deliverables that have to happen. Download ClickBid’s free communication template here.  

Once you have a content list, you can start to determine the due dates for each of the communication pieces. From there, you can delegate these items to staff members or volunteers.  

4. Introduce Early Online Bidding to Increase Raised Funds 

The fourth strategy for creating a successful fundraising event is to extend your event beyond the four walls of your venue. 

What does that mean?  

The four walls of your venue refer to the limitation of in-person events. When you pay to rent a space for a certain time, only the people that can attend the event will be impacted by it. However, if your donors are out of town, don’t feel well, or don’t want to risk getting sick, they won’t attend. 

But now, people can bid on auction items and donate to your event from anywhere in the world.  

And one way to increase the success of your event is by opening your online auction early. 

If your in-person event takes place on a Saturday, try opening your auction on the Monday before the event. This provides you with more time to communicate about the event, gain excitement, and increase the opportunity to donate — especially if your donors are unable to attend in-person.  

As an additional bonus, opening your auction days before the event allows your donors to have early adoption of your mobile bidding platform. This helps to reduce confusion and questions during the in-person event, while setting you up for even more success on the day of. 

5. Implement a Crazy Simple Check-in Experience 

Nothing is worse than having a complicated check-in process at your fundraising event. But there are a couple of things you can do to get your donors through the door as quickly as possible. One way is by utilizing your virtual venue to create a 24-hour registration window. 

Think of this as an early check-in option for a flight. If half of the people for the flight check-in early, they will go straight to security. Overall, the number of people checking in is greatly reduced, relieving the amount of overhead. 

The other option is to use QR codes at the door. Scanning a QR code (rather than manually checking in) lets your donors quickly get into the event and be on their way.  

Here’s what those two options could look like:  

Implementing these two options puts you well on your way to creating a crazy simple check-in strategy. 

6. Invite Donors to Participate Online (The Painless Way) 

Adding video to your fundraising events is an easy and engaging way to capture the attention of your donors and increase fundraising. 

We suggest including informational videos about your organization, about the upcoming event, and even testimonial videos from previous donors. These videos help get new donors acquainted with your organization, and returning donors excited about what’s to come.  

During your actual event, not only should you broadcast your main program, but you should broadcast your live auction too. This will allow your donors to participate even if they can’t make it to the live event fundraiser.  

With ClickBid’ EventStream feature, you can host a live auction online with the ability to accept real-time bids from bidders attending in-person and virtually. It enables you to broadcast your auctioneer and lets your donors use their phones to participate and give to your mission.  

With less than a one-second streaming delay, you can extend your live auction and paddle raise beyond the four walls of your venue. 

7. Share Your Event Data with Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT 

Having all your data in one place is extremely important. It also provides you with a single destination with the necessary information you need to continue to host and reconcile a successful event.  

There are two ways that you can share data from any mobile bidding platform or ticket system to Raiser’s Edge NXT.  

The first way is through a spreadsheet. You can download your data into Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and import that into Raiser’s Edge NXT.  

The other option is to use an API integration. With the API integration, you can then use screens and wizards to select the data you want to push to the platform like event ticket sales, online donations, auction purchases, and more.  

In a mobile bidding platform that has an integration with Raiser’s Edge NXT, you’re going to be able to choose the activities that happened at your event and move them back to Raiser’s Edge NXT. And most importantly, synchronize them between your fundraising platform and Raiser’s Edge NXT. 

ClickBid’s mobile bidding platform has an API integration with Raiser’s Edge NXT that allows you to easily import your data into your ClickBid admin, export any new bidders from ClickBid, and export any sales from your auction, online donations, or ticket sales into Raiser’s Edge NXT.  

Let’s Continue Learning 

Incorporating these seven strategies will get you well on your way to running successful fundraising events in 2023. And be sure to watch the full webinar if you’d like to dive deeper into this topic!