Fundraising Events that Engage Alumni: 6 Best Practices

When it comes to fundraising, organizing events aligned with your campaign excites your donors and drives contributions. The best way to leverage fundraising events is by targeting a specific group of donors and tailoring the event to their interests and preferences. 

Your sorority or fraternity’s alumni is a great community to throw exclusive fundraising events for due to their personal connection to your chapter. That being said, your events need to be engaging for them to attend in the first place. No matter what event you choose to host, these best practices will help you launch a successful and exciting alumni giving event that they’ll never forget.

1. Use appropriate management software.

As one of your sorority or fraternity’s leaders, you understand that managing your fundraisers is crucial for your success. Using digital management tools, such as fraternity & sorority management software, will streamline the planning process and increase your bandwidth to make the event truly special. 

According to OmegaFi, effective fraternity & sorority management software should include event management features that allow you to spread the word about upcoming events to your alumni. Use your tools to message your active members to keep them in the loop about the event and add any updates to the calendar as they happen. Plus, digital platforms are mobile-friendly, allowing you to reach your alumni and active members with event info and registration pages anytime, anywhere.

2. Segment your outreach messages. 

Your alumni likely get inundated with messages every day via email, social media, and direct mail. Making your messages stand out from the crowd is essential for getting your alumni to read your messages, attend your events, and donate to your chapter.

Using a segmented outreach approach makes it easy to tailor your messages to your reader so they’re more likely to read them. Segment your communications to target different demographic groups within your alumni community, such as by graduating class, major, current industry, or preferred contact method. 

To segment your outreach, study your data and/or survey your alumni based on your chosen criteria. Then, craft different messages or format your message to align with the communication channel. 

3. Take their advice into consideration.

You don’t have to be a mind reader to figure out which event ideas your alumni will love. Allow your alumni to weigh in by sending a survey with several event possibilities and asking them to rank the options. To facilitate the process, use an online survey tool that will automatically calculate the results, such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Then, add the most popular choices to your calendar for the year.

But once your event is over, your outreach work isn’t done yet! Send out a post-event survey to your attendees to get their feedback. Ask them what went well, what could be improved, and if they would come to this event again in the future. Then, compare your responses to determine what you should keep and improve going forward. 

Asking your alumni for their feedback before and after events will make them feel heard and will provide a new perspective on your fundraising success that your team may have missed.

4. Choose engaging fundraising events.

One of the most important parts of the process is choosing your fundraising events. Consider pitching the following events on your alumni feedback survey:

  • Auction
  • Sports watch party
  • Gala
  • Benefit concert
  • Webinar or panel discussion
  • 5K walk/run-a-thon 
  • Branded merchandise sale

These are only a few of the numerous event ideas your chapter can mix and match. While it’s great to host tried and true events, don’t be afraid to be creative and host a unique event.

5. Offer digital event formats.

While fully in-person used to be the standard format for events, it isn’t your only option anymore. Fully online and hybrid events have skyrocketed in popularity due to their flexibility, affordability, and sharability. Digital event formats allow you to:

  • Invite alumni across the country. Though you all attended the same school, your alumni likely scattered far and wide after graduation. While only local alumni are likely to attend a fully in-person event, an online space allows you to include alumni who’d like to attend but live far away. 
  • Accommodate alumni with busy schedules. Give your alumni peace of mind by offering a more flexible option than attending in person. A remote option allows your alumni to listen in from wherever they are, whether they’re on their commute or just too comfy to leave the house.
  • Save money. After paying for the venue, entertainment, and catering, in-person events can get expensive. On the other hand, virtual event software generally comes with a one-time cost and some even offer a nonprofit discount. 

The best part is, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to host a remote event. The most widespread platforms are user-friendly and offer many tutorials for the software. Smaller, more niche platforms might even offer you your own customer service representative to consult with questions and concerns. 

6. Make an event website.

More likely than not, your alumni are going to go straight to your website to learn about your fundraising event. Simplify their time on your website by creating a page dedicated to your event. It’s easy to create a landing page in your CMS that has everything your attendees need to know, such as:

  • Start and end time
  • Age restrictions
  • Contact information
  • Event agenda
  • Menu
  • Venue

If you don’t have the bandwidth to create a new landing page for each event, you can put together a separate events page that hosts the details of all upcoming activities.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to plan and manage an alumni event, it’s time to collect donations. 

A surefire way to maximize your fundraising revenue from your event is to keep matching gifts in mind. According to Double the Donation, 4-7 billion dollars in matching gift revenue go unclaimed every year. Plus, your donors are more likely to donate if they know their gift will be matched. Be sure to use matching gift software with auto-submission capabilities to streamline the process further.

Ultimately, your alumni joined your chapter to make memories and bond with their brothers or sisters. Hosting a fundraising event appeals to this desire, as well as your need for donations. So, ensure your event is unique and unforgettable, and your alumni will become long-term supporters of your chapter.

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