Attendee Retention Tips for Any Nonprofit Event


In our strive to provide our clients the best, we’re proud to announce a new addition to the Neon One Certified Software ecosystem – Gesture. This auction and event platform is amazing at providing a red carpet experience for both your attendees and staff. We’re excited to have them connect to NeonCRM as well as share their expertise on attendees retention today.

You’ve done it. After all the hard work, you’ve finally finished your big event. The plates are being cleared off the tables. The auction items are being packed up to be handed to your guests. Time to sit back and relax, right?

Not if you’re a true fundraiser. The event you’ve just thrown should be just the beginning of your stewardship of all the attendees and sponsors you’ve just wined and dined. The real key in managing an event is retention. In this post, we’re going to cover a few strategies around retaining your attendees once the event is over.

Why is attendee retention important?

Nationwide we are seeing donor retention rates plummet. According to the recent Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) report, for every 100 donors gained a nonprofit lost 96 donors through attrition. For the past several years, donor retention has been dropping below 50% on average. This means nonprofits are spending more money to keep less donors.

And these statistics are for overall giving. Keep in mind that the cost per acquisition on events is much higher than other forms of giving, such as online donations or annual fund appeals. It is absolutely vital that you keep event attendees happy and coming back year after year. Let’s dive into three strategies to assist in your attendee retention.

Pay attention to them

During your event, your staff should be taking note of which donors are really enjoying themselves and those that might not be having the best time. Make sure to assign different staff to particularly important donors that have attended, such as corporate sponsors or table captains. Prioritize speaking to them and asking how their lives are. Make the connection matter. Make it about them, not the money that you’re hoping to get out of them that night.

Once the event is done, collect notes on sets of donors that your staff has taken during the event. Segment these into giving levels and start working from the top down. Ensure that each of the follow-up notes that you’re writing to them (handwritten, please) is specific to the interaction that you had at the event with them. Writing from the heart is key to winning a donor’s attention for years to come.

Keep them in the loop

Were you aware that 53% of donors cite poor communication as a reason why they no longer support an organization? We learned this from the recent retention focused #GivingTuesday webinar with fellow Neon One partner Double the Donation and this fact should shake up how you manage your post-event communications.

While we covered personalized communication above, your organization also needs to keep the conversation going throughout the year. Following up with information that is important to your attendee about your programming is vital. For instance, if there was a paddle raise at your event, did you specifically cite a program that the money would benefit? If so, then create a follow-up communication about how that program fared thanks to the paddle raise revenue. This will create a full circle connection between the donor’s experience and the purpose of the event.

Get data savvy

How often do you look at your donor database and realize you don’t have an attendance log? You know that you saw that person there but it isn’t reflected in your database in a way that is actionable.

Donor data isn’t enough when it comes to understanding motivation. This is why having information on attendance alongside other demographic and traditional donor data is vital to getting the full picture. Did you also put those notes from our first suggestion in the donor’s record?

We’ve built direct synchronization between NeonCRM and our auction platform. So there is no need to manually import or export spreadsheets. However, it is still important, regardless of the auction or donor management platform, to try to get as much data in one place as possible.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to retaining and stewarding your attendees for years to come.

Gesture Neon CRM Integration

  • Bob Schmidt

    All the NeonCRM users I mentor build relationships and raise funds via auctions so it’s great to know they can now consider software that will sync directly with their database!

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