Many times “free” tickets to your gala are included in sponsorship packages. While some sponsors may attend your event and participate in the fundraising program we often hear from sponsors, “we’ve already made our donation through sponsorship.” While there are similarities in special event fundraising and sponsorship, they are not the same. Raising Paddles Fundraising Auctioneer, Scott Jones further explains in Sponsorship and Fundraising—Differentiating the Two. Another thing we see is sometimes the tickets are passed around the office or even outside the sponsoring business. The potential risk in any of these scenarios is having a group of attendees who aren’t mission focused and not prepared to participate in fundraising. This can impact fundraising results at your event.
So, if tickets to your gala are included in sponsorship packages, how can “free” tickets generate profit at your event and turn guests into donors? We think the place to start is to have intentional conversations with key donors and sponsors. Sharing gratitude about their commitment to your mission through their sponsorship but also about the value of a seat at your event and how they can help your organization reach its goals by thoughtfully utilizing their given tickets can help you reach these goals.
An organization we support experienced the success this kind of intentional conversation with a sponsor can bring in a big way! Here’s the story. This organization has heavy sponsorship support around their gala and several of the top sponsorship packages include tables/tickets for the gala. But when we took a closer look at their participation in fundraising at the gala, it became clear that we needed to engage them in a new way if we were going to reach this year’s goals. So the lunch date was set and the sponsor embraced their ideas. The sponsor walked away feeling appreciated and inspired to further the mission and help the organization reach their goals at the gala. Because this sponsor filled their given tables with guests who were informed about the mission and were prepared to participate in the fundraising program we saw a great increase in fundraising and converted guests into donors!
One last really important thing to note here is that follow up is key. This organization is an excellent job of expressing gratitude and engaging these new donors shortly after the event. Several even came to the organization’s facilities for a tour to learn more. Intentional conversations can lead to legacy donors! If you’d like to learn more or discuss these ideas, please feel free to reach out to anyone on our team.
I hope that you have a blessed Christmas season and a very happy new year! Our team is looking forward to supporting you in 2023!