December 10, 2019 Douglas Shaw & Associates

Ask Wiley

Ask Wiley


Capitalizing on special events, how do I make them successful?


The most critical key to making a special event a success is to have the event sponsored ahead of time. That way you have your costs covered and all income generated goes toward the work of your organization.

Make the event donor focused. It’s critical that everyone in attendance fully understands the full impact of their gifts with stories and testimonies of how those you serve benefit. Invite the right people. Your ask at the event needs to be intentional and directly asking attendees for their financial support. If you can, have a match or challenge fund which will double the impact of every gift made at the event. To be successful, you’re looking for attendees to become partners in your work, not simply friends.

But even if you do all these things, the key to long-term special event success is to create an event that gives attendees a clear and compelling understanding of the impact you are having on the lives of the people you serve. They need to see how their gifts are changing lives, not funding an organization. You want them to leave the event with an overpowering desire to give more so even more lives will be changed.

Communicating with these donors after the event should give these attendees multiple opportunities to give often and at higher amounts so that more lives will be changed.

As a result, your special event will generate both short-term and long-term income so you can meet the needs of even more people.

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We look forward to helping you continue your work of being a part of what is right in the world!

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