The nonprofit fundraising season is in full gear. Until the fundraising break just before the winter holidays, large and small nonprofits will do their best to bring donors to their event-doors. From the cream-covered baked chicken dinner and silent auction, to kayak races and marathons, and this weekend’s 17th annual Gene Cerise Country Coast Classic Bike Ride, the competition for our generous dollars is on.
Marketing a nonprofit event is tricky. And almost every nonprofit is worthy of all the free publicity it can generate. But in reality, there is only so much space and time in print and electronic publications to promote events.
Nancy Mayerson, a Ventura County nonprofit marketing specialist and owner of Mayerson Marketing and Public Relations, suggests that nonprofits “put the party in your marketing.”
Mayerson sent me the following tips:
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▪ The life of the party takes on new meaning when putting special events in your marketing mix. Events are a powerful way to reach your target audience by engaging them in a memorable way to create a personal relationship with you.”
▪ Grand opening receptions, anniversary celebrations, professional development seminars and charity event sponsorships are just a few examples of events that serve an important role in the marketing plan.
▪ In addition to the opportunity to build a relationship with your targets, events provide multiple opportunities for reaching your audience with your message. Invitations, both printed and electronic, can be memorable and clever while carrying information about your event. Equally important, they should reflect your marketing messages in a manner appropriate for the occasion.
▪ Depending upon your business and your marketing objectives, consider designing your event to be newsworthy so you can receive media coverage. Include a guest speaker or honoree, and host a meet-and-greet before or after the event for your VIPs to interact with you and the speaker or honoree. Shoot for pre-event publicity as well as news coverage of the event, which should lead to post-event news coverage too.
▪ Some examples of how to make your event newsworthy include featuring a high-profile speaker or honoree, launching a revolutionary new product or, if the event is more along the lines of an anniversary celebration, share a poignant story about the company’s humble beginnings, how it’s made a positive difference in the lives of long-time employees or highlight your history of community engagement and philanthropy.
▪ If you’re at a loss for event content and lack the staff or budget for proper planning and execution, consider sponsoring an event being held by a nonprofit organization. This can be an extremely effective marketing approach that allows you to use your marketing and advertising budget in a way that not only gets your message to your target audience, but helps build a better community and supports a worthwhile cause.
▪ Many high-profile nonprofits hold high-visibility events for which they need sponsors. Find the cause that aligns with your company’s image and messaging, and that shares your target audience. Work closely with the organization on the event planning and scripting to create the visibility you need for your sponsorship.
▪ Exposure on invitations, programs, banners and publicity materials plus a role during the event can provide the bang for your buck that you need. What’s more is you’re helping a cause that shares your corporate values and serves the greater good.
Mayerson plans to move her operation to Atascadero following her husband’s retirement.
Meanwhile, one local who consistently puts the party (or thump) into local events is George Gray. Gray voluntarily hauls his sound systems and creates special musical discs for Cambria’s Pinedorado judges stand, the annual Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-off and Car Show, and the upcoming Fourth of July celebration hosted by the American Legion at Shamel Park.
Gray said it is a pleasure to support the community events and to work with other volunteers. He’s big on Cambria and Cambria’s bastion of volunteers.
“I wouldn’t do this as a volunteer if I didn’t enjoy it and love giving back to this town,” he said. “This place has one of the highest percentages of volunteers than most other communities.”
Party on, volunteers! You do make a difference.
Charmaine Coimbra’s monthly column is special to The Cambrian.