I have heard a lot of talk of folks who want a UNIQUE event.
“We want our event to stand out (so donors choose to come to our event).”
“We want our event to feel different (from everyone else in our community).”
“We don’t want to use the same vendors (for fear of losing the uniqueness of our event)”
But what makes an event unique? My answer is the STORYTELLING.
“But Artisan, are you sure it’s not the theme?” 100% absolutely it’s not the theme.
Your event is your chance to share your great work with dedicated supporters. The theme of your event probably isn’t what is bringing your supporters to your event, especially if it's something like “Dancing with the Stars” It’s your MISSION that brings your donors. If they are invested in the work you do, they want to hear the stories of how you drive that work forward each and every day. And ideally, you will have a theme that relates to your organization’s values. [In which case your unique theme WILL attract the right audience because it’s mission driven.]
Photo: Shots by Somi
Our client, Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity uses the theme Home for the Holidays Gala. It makes sense to their donor base because they build homes. Make sure your theme drives your mission forward.
“And Artisan, you're sure it’s not because we use the same auctioneer as that other group?” Yep!
Think of your favorite actor. It’s likely that they have been in several different genres of movies. Much like actors, benefit auctioneers are adaptable and can represent many different organizations' work. The only word of caution I would give you is to make sure your auctioneer is authentic about the work you do. There is such a thing as the right tool for the right job so make sure you have an ambassador on your stage representing your organization.
What’s more important here are the stories you are sharing with your audience. Engagement comes from connection to the work. If your work resonates with your donors they will in turn make a gift to support your work. And what is the best way to make connections? Storytelling.
Humans learn and retain more information when it comes in the form of a story. Statistics and facts are great, but they need to be weaved through a narrative that helps with retention. That said, sticking to one narrative will catapult fundraising. Why? Because it’s easiest for us to connect with one person's story. One. Because it’s hard to track multiple storylines unless you are watching a series. Without the story, we just don’t remember what we heard. And if we don’t remember, we can’t share it.
If you are really seeking a way to be unique in your event, focus on the work you do then share the impact you make through stories. Your donors will connect more closely with your work which will ultimately increase your net revenue, hopefully to record-breaking levels.