Conventions, annual conferences and galas are make-or-break deadlines on your calendar. These events provide a pivotal connection point between the services you provide and the members you serve. Each aspect of your event presents an opportunity to make a positive impression on your most important audience.
A memorable, impactful event doesn’t happen by accident. The amount of time and resources required to create an elevated event will vary depending on your goals. What remains consistent is your need to produce the kind of branded experience that delivers value for your members.
You need to incorporate enough time in your schedule to create the kind of branded event that boosts attendance, increases sponsorship, and secures a sustainable future for your organization. An event created with a cohesive design delivers an elevated experience that fosters engagement, loyalty, and trust among members and energizes them for the year ahead.
Rushed, disjointed events are as stressful to host as they are to attend. Along with missing the chance to nurture a vital connection with current and prospective members, there is also the very real risk of burning out your staff when working under too tight of a schedule.
Branded events require anywhere from three to six months to plan and produce. And that’s only after the procurement process is complete and the contract is signed. This means you should get started on your procurement process up to a month or two in advance of your desired project start date.
Allowing sufficient time to deliver the assets you need for an elevated event experience is crucial. To put it simply, a branded event takes time to create because so much goes into its development.
A successful event branding project incorporates the following elements:
Throughout your event’s branding process, you can’t forget to keep your internal stakeholders informed about its progress. Otherwise, you run the risk of disrupting your timeline as your board or executive leadership may demand last-minute changes.
When you’re working with the right partner, an advance site visit provides a crucial view into your event’s possibilities. Are there areas of the venue you can utilize to create a more engaging experience for your members? Even if your organization has used the same space before, a creative partner adds a fresh perspective to recognize new potential for your event’s branding.
You need more than a kitschy theme for your signage and programs to deliver a branded event that makes an impression on your members. Too often, organizations leave elements such as colors and themes up to arbitrary preferences or what approaches have been used in the past.
Your event should be designed in a way that’s consistent with your organization’s needs. You can’t just pull your event’s visual aesthetic out of a hat. You and your internal team can explore your options by brainstorming and concepting the framework for a branded event experience.
Your organization’s event can’t use a one-size-fits-all solution. The deliverables required for your annual fundraising gala won’t be the same for a three-day conference. As you and your agency collaborator develop the strategy for your event, you’ll gain a clearer view of its assets.
The right agency will also help guide your investment by figuring out the most impactful deliverables to benefit your brand. The deliverables specific to your branded event may incorporate the following:
At the beginning of a project your agency will develop a custom plan and timeline based on your needs and availability.
The following common factors can potentially increase (or decrease) the time needed to ensure your event delivers an elevated, branded experience:
Creating an elevated event for your organization shares the same DNA as developing a new website or any other project. Except the stakes are higher when it comes to your final deadlines. When your venue is booked and your members have paid for their travel and accommodations, you have no options. Your event kicks off whether all its branded elements are in place or not.
You can protect your schedule by following the following 5 tips:
Of course, without gathering all the details, your organization can’t really know the time required to transform your event into an elevated branded experience that will better serve your goals, and your members. If you’re looking to get started, we should talk about the next steps.
Major fundraising campaigns for special initiatives are too important to treat as a rush job. They deserve the same care as any of your organization’s marketing projects. By dedicating the right amount of time and strategic focus to a capital campaign, your organization, and its fundraising have much stronger chances of reaching your goals.
Often, these initiatives are integral to your organization’s ongoing success and, in some cases, survival. However, before you approach a single prospective donor, you have to dedicate the right resources to creating a plan.
Your plan needs to address the following 3 questions to be effective:
Prior to starting any work on a capital campaign, you need to set the right foundation. Your audience has to understand where their money is going and why your organization needs their support. Then, you can focus on creating a specific request for a donation.
From the beginning, you need to identify the goals for your campaign and the specific audience you’re targeting for help. Once those details are established, you can define the messaging and tactics that will deliver the results you need.
For example, an organization of farmers was working on an advocacy campaign. Their work involved a wealth of details that drew a connection between agriculture and the food supply of local salmon.
Legislators aren’t a technical audience, and the disjointed nature of their day-to-day work limits their attention span. Rather than attempting to communicate every detail of the issue to these lawmakers, the organization worked with Position to create a simple illustrative leave behind visually communicating their point.
Defining what you’re trying to say and then crafting your message in a compelling way is crucial to any fundraising initiative. With a critical fundraising goal approaching, your nonprofit or member-driven organization may be best served by bringing in an outside marketing perspective. This can ensure the story of your campaign is told in a unique and compelling way.
The right assets will tell your campaign’s story in a way that’s unique and memorable. Each asset serves as a way for your organization to build a case for giving at every step of the way.
Your capital campaign should help the audience imagine the results of their involvement and investment. Architectural renderings are the cornerstone of any capital campaign for a new building, but how do you take them to the next level? Adding your prospective sponsor or donor’s name/logo to the renderings helps make their investment tangible. Including the renderings in an immersive animated video, takes it to the next level. Weaving storytelling and renderings into a game-changing tool.
The right assets form the foundation of a donation conversation. Capital Public Radio effectively used this animated video in their fundraising campaign for new headquarters and performance facilities.
For a video asset, your organization can cut multiple versions for several purposes, such as creating a shorter clip for an email campaign, social media or paid ads. Then, you can use a longer, more detailed video to accompany fundraising meetings.
After asking for a donation, you can incorporate other assets that will work passively on your organization’s behalf. Inspirational microsites or leave-behind brochures are just two ways for your organization to continue the conversation.
When you’re working with the right agency partner, your choices of deliverables don’t simply come down to generating a suite of well-designed deliverables. Ultimately, the goal is to figure out how to maximize your efforts and make your fundraising more effective.
Whether your organization is planning a capital campaign to support new facilities, political advocacy, or another mission-specific goal, the initiatives are often outside your marketing budget. Consequently, you may view the expenses associated with its promotion as a cost that needs to be minimized. Instead, you should view your fundraising marketing as an investment in your organization’s future.
The right level of investment for your capital campaign depends on what your organization is trying to achieve. Ultimately, you should invest in a marketing strategy that’s consistent with how much you need to raise. As discussed in this popular TED Talk by Dan Pallotta, “Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding nonprofits for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).”
If your organization is looking to raise a significant sum of money with a capital campaign, your marketing budget isn’t a cost — it’s an investment in your goal.
Investing in your campaign is important, but effective fundraising initiatives aren’t defined by the flashiest designs or fancy brochures. Success comes down to clearly conveying your organization’s story to the right audience in a compelling way.
Regardless of what fundraising initiative may be in your organization’s future, each campaign should have its own budget. That way, you’ll be in the best position to generate the impact needed to achieve your goals. Thinking strategically to uncover how to generate the greatest impact from your organization’s efforts is the most important investment you can make. If this sounds like the kind of work you need to deliver success for your organization’s next campaign, we should talk.
Not long ago, it didn’t take much to stabilize or grow your association’s membership numbers. The benefits of joining were obvious. Membership dues provided unique networking opportunities, advocacy efforts, annual conferences, and professional education. Plus, people would join because others did — their parents, industry leaders, or coworkers.
Today is a whole different ball game.
10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age in America every single day until 2030. That means many of your devoted members are leaving vacant seats. You can no longer assume your current members will renew, much less that new members will join. “Dad did, so I will” is no longer good enough. Networking on LinkedIn is easy and free, and advocacy and specialized education abound online. It’s all too easy for potential members to think that they don’t need your association. And rightly so — many associations can no longer prove their worth.
Syncing up with the attitudes, behaviors, desires, and values of your association’s next generation isn’t optional. It’s the only way to stay in the game. Here’s how.
Your retiring members can recall the days of navigating to a beach vacation with a paper map. Next generation members are guided to the beach with Siri’s help.
These scenarios illustrate the difference between those who learned technology at some point in adulthood and those who are “digital natives” (who grew up with technology). Your association needs to master the language of digital natives — they’re your future.
In order to communicate effectively with digital natives, you must bear in mind their tendency to:
Digital natives are also highly selective. If you want their attention, you have to earn it. Thanks to complex algorithms, they’re used to being served up what they’re interested in. And that attention you earn? You may only have it for seconds.
Instagram averages 500 million daily active users. Your association should care deeply about that number as it represents, in part, a global obsession with aesthetics. Whether it be a coffee grinder, sneakers, or a new event landing page, your next generation of members demands it looks good. “Functional” is assumed, and style is no longer optional.
The next generation will draw conclusions about you by how your website looks and navigates. Your website should hold up to their scrutiny, so make sure you consider:
Organizations that will survive and thrive in the next decade need a cohesive — and attractive — online presence. Your association can be no exception.
The next generation needs a compelling reason to join your association. Tangible “benefits” like industry resources, education, and networking are not convincing anymore. This is true even if membership in your association is automatic, free, or obligatory.
Your association needs to provide something exceptional: a sense of belonging and a chance to make a difference. The next generation of members is moved to participate when they feel they matter. And they will take action when they feel it has a measurable impact on something they care about. Essentially, your association needs to tug on their heart strings.
Appealing to the heart is every bit as important as appealing to their sense of aesthetics — maybe more so. Translate your association’s mission into a unique story that proves your authenticity and purpose. And be aware: every aspect of your website adds (or potentially subtracts) from your story.
When your association is walking your talk, your members have something they can be proud to be part of. So tap into the tools at your disposal — like members’ stories that share the impact your association has made on the industry.
Now is the best time to disrupt your association’s status quo. You can’t afford to waste any more time as more and more members retire or bypass renewal. Welcome change. Insist on innovation. And put in the work to prove your value to your future members.