September 4, 2015

Make New Friends: Connecting with Event Guests

A room set for a galaAt your special event, you have tables full of people. After the event, you hope to stay in contact and, especially, develop a relationship with them. Since a sponsor brings them and sometimes even a sponsor doesn’t know who will show up, it is difficult to get guest contact information. Groups collect names at registration tables. Others do a drawing to collect business cards. Both of these involve asking (begging) guests for information. Instead, what if you guests voluntarily gave you their contact information?

You can do this by making them donors. Now, I’m not suggesting your reach into your pocket and give a gift on their behalf. The table sponsors already have made them donors. You just need to inform the guest and ask for their help on how to direct the gift.

For simplicity sake, let’s say that tables at your event cost $8,000 plus the actual cost of the meal. Each has eight seats, making each seat worth $1,000. At each place setting you place a simple opt-in card that states that their friend (the sponsors), whom you name, has made a gift of $1,000 on their behalf. Ask the guest to use the card to indicate how they would like you to direct the gift. Include three or four check boxes with options, such as children, teen, or general needs. Provide a place for them to write their name and contact information. After the event collect the cards. Send your “new donors” thank you notes. Provide them all the benefits you offer your $1,000 donors.

Of course, you’ll want to clear the use of opt-in cards with your sponsors before the event. Most sponsors will see that the cards provide recognition for the sponsor and honor the guests and hold the potential to enhance the relationships between the sponsor and his or her guests.

Opt-in cards open the way for you to create new relationship with interested guests. Guests who aren’t interested ignore the cards. Interested guests give contact information and what interests them about your work. After all, you don’t really want to just know guests contact info, you want to know more about them and how their interests interact with yours.

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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