A pledge event is an event like a walk or a run, or something more extreme like a pilgrimage or streaking naked down fifth avenue, that allows individual participants to raise money for your cause. They are incredibly successful, both because people like taking part – they enjoy the experience and challenge – and because friends asking friends results in more, and higher donations.
Recently, we had the benefit of attending a seminar on how to achieve breakthrough results on your next pledge event. The seminar was hosted by hjc, a strategic non-profit consulting firm, and was packed full of great ideas that will help you make your next pledge event vastly more successful. Here are 5 of the best ideas:
1. Get your event website right
If the pledge event is a large one, you’ll likely have a website or a landing page dedicated to it. This landing page is important, and there are a few things that will make it very successful:
- Event details clearly laid out: where, when, and a big button to register.
- Pictures, videos and text that give the impression that it’s going to be an unforgettable experience.
- Text that explains a little about the cause, and why you’re doing this to create emotional appeal.
- A side column with top fundraisers to encourage people, and create a healthy sense of competition.
- Option to allow people to donate who want to support the cause, but don’t necessarily want to participate.
Here’s a great example:
2. Call Your Participants
This is absolutely critical. If you are not calling your event participants, start! Research conducted by hjc shows that participants who received one phone call to offer encouragement and help, raised about 100% more for their organization than those who weren’t. The phone call sounded something like this: “Thanks so much for signing up to take part in this event! Do you need help setting up your donation page, or sending out emails to your family and friends to get support?” Immediately after these types of phone calls, participants got busy with their page and asking their friends to support them. And there’s more. Those participants who received a second phone call to say something like “Hey, you’re doing a great job getting pledges, keep up the good work! Also, did you know you can increase your goal?” raised about 400% more. Amazing what a simple phone call can do!
3. Make sure to have a follow-up survey
According to hjc, if you don’t have a follow-up survey, you’re missing a very important opportunity to hold onto participants and turn them into regular donors. A follow-up survey should ask whether or not the participant plans to take part in this event again. If they say no, you should be asking them whether they would be interested in supporting the organization in another way – a monthly gift maybe? Think about it this way: the experience of biking or riding and raising a bunch of money has already created a wonderful memory and a true connection to your organization and its cause. To let a relationship like that fizzle out because you didn’t ask is a huge mistake!
4. Track and follow-up with donors
You’re also missing out on an incredible opportunity, if you’re not capturing information about every donor for every one of your participants. These individuals have shown an interest in your cause as well by making a donation, and there is an opportunity to turn each and every one into a regular supporter. According to hjc, one organization was able to convert 7-8% of these donors into monthly contributors by phoning them and having the right message.
5. Find your top performers and help them
Be sure to have software in place that allows you to track the fundraising success of each participant. You’ll want to have a good look at this data, and segment it to find your top performers. Being able to segment is critical in order to focus you time, energy and resources appropriately – in this case, on the 20% of your participants who brought in 80% of your revenue.
Next time this event, or another one comes up, offer resources to these participants to help them raise even more for your organization. In some cases non-profits have gone as far as to give up brand control to an individual who can help them raise a lot. Sick Kids did this with Meagan’s Walk and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation did this with Joe’s Team. In both cases, it paid off!