However, focusing on the activities that make up the event is not the most important thing. For any fundraising event to be successful, the focus must be on the emotions you want to create in the room.
The first thing I ask my clients after they go through their list of activities is, “How do you want your guests to feel at the event and after they leave?”
Before long another list is coming at me, this time made up of words like: inspired, hopeful, excited, curious, enthusiastic, and engaged.
Great! These are all wonderful feelings to evoke at your event.
Then I ask the most important question, “How do we let these words be our guide to creating an event that fosters these feelings in your guests?”
The problem with focusing on activities and not emotions is that you end up with an event that feels cookie cutter. Rather than your event leaving a lasting impression on your guests, they end up feeling like they’ve attended the same event a hundred times over. That’s not what we want.
A fundraising event is a party, sure. It is fun, but it also has to take people on an emotional rollercoaster ride so that when they exit the car they are ready to make a donation on the exit platform.
I can’t tell you want emotions you want to evoke at your event, the answer is different for everyone. If you get stuck coming up with a list of emotions, here are some questions to answer:
- What emotions will make your guests feel inspired to give?
- Have you communicated these intended emotions with your speakers?
- How can you sustain these feelings throughout the entire evening?
The next time you plan a fundraising event, try coming at it through a lens of emotions and feelings, rather than auctions and speeches. This can mean making bold choices for your program. Maybe you get everyone’s attention at the beginning of the event by turning the lights completely off and starting with a bit of theater on stage. Think about how to use your event space and your program to foster the emotional atmosphere that leads to giving. Don’t be afraid to do things differently and think outside the box.