AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

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A Small-Scale Approach to Special Events

Social GatheringMany organizations had to cancel special events in 2020 as a precaution during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Those same organizations may have already canceled fundraising events in 2021 or are weighing options on how best to engage donors while considering everyone’s safety. One approach may be to host events on a smaller scale — which enables easier implementation of social distancing as needed.

Small events may consist of only 20 attendees or less who you may wish to further engage in your organization. They may include an opportunity to socialize over hors d’oeuvres and drinks, share your organization’s mission and needs and provide a tour of your facility or services. Hosting a small event at your organization or a volunteer’s home may seem like a lot of work, but small-scale gatherings have their advantages.

  1. Less intensive pressure on staff time and resources. Large events take months of planning to execute, often consuming a development director’s attention and leaving little time for other fundraising activities such as meeting with donors, writing grants or implementing an appeal. In addition, hosting large events can be expensive, from venue and equipment rentals to event insurance, meals and advertising.
  2. A small gathering can result in stronger donor engagement. It is hard to engage with individual participants at an event if a gala has 500 attendees or a run/walk attracts over 1,000 participants. Smaller gatherings allow for a nonprofit’s staff and board to have conversations with those in attendance and to educate about the organization’s mission, programs and greatest needs. Invitees do not need to pay a registration or table fee to attend. Typically, an ask is made during the event to support a specific need that may be of interest to those in attendance.
  3. Small events can lead to major gift opportunities. Small events may be an introduction into engaging donors with a higher capacity to give. These events allow the nonprofit to better get to know the prospective and current donors equipping in matching donor interests with the organization’s needs. This can change the donor’s transactional annual contributions to transformational support for the organization’s future.
Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.