FundraisingVolunteer management

Warm-Weather Nonprofit Event Success: Real-World Examples 

8 Mins read

Summer is here and fundraising does not stop for nonprofits, but what does a successful nonprofit event look like? A recent Giveffect webinar (see the full webinar: took a deep dive into the topic and examined some actual examples of success for some warm-weather events that often get overlooked in the annual calendar. 

Let’s review what the webinar found and recap many of the successful nonprofit events that have been held and the reasons behind that success. Here are several of the topics we will address today:

  1. Why events are important 
  2. Planning an event
  3. Neighbors Day 2022 (Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area)
  4. Houston Veteran Cemetery Clean-Up Project (Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation)
  5. Garden Party 2022 (Little Light House)
  6. 7th Annual Gelatin Plunge (Children’s Cancer Center)
  7. Showrunner Sessions (Writers Guild Foundation)
  8. The Giveffect Difference

First, let’s discuss why events are important. 

Successful nonprofit events, of course, bring money and attention to nonprofit organizations, and both are critical. While this is a crude summary, it does represent the core realities of what events need to create. 

Fundraising is a critical part of many nonprofit events’ success. The funds give a nonprofit the power and leverage to be able to deliver the work that is important to the nonprofit’s community. But it’s about more than the money, the mission is also critical. The focus of the ideas and how you spend the money is just as critical. And events can be a driving force to bring attention to your mission. A new participant may not be familiar with your nonprofit, but they may learn about your core mission and values at the event. 

But how do you create that atmosphere to engage new participants and share your mission?

Planning an event

The first step in planning is to understand what you want out of a successful nonprofit event. Find your overarching core goals for your event. These are often “hard goals” like meeting fundraising/volunteer numbers and reaching attendee numbers. These are generally the large goals that can be measured that everyone understands will lead to event success. 

But there are also soft goals, like:

  • Believe in the cause/mission of the organization and event
  • Network (professionally a chance to make connections with like-minded people)
  • Community building (a chance to make personal connections with those in their local community)

And now let’s look at those hard and soft goals and how nonprofit organizations effectively used strategies to find event success. 

Neighbors Day 2022 (Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area)

The Neighbors Day 2022 event held by Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area was a huge successful nonprofit event, even after taking two years off for the pandemic. The event asks volunteers to help elderly and homebound folks in the community with their spring yard work, and thus the main goal is an increased number of volunteers. 

Since 2017, when Habitat for Humanity La Crosse took over the event, it has doubled the number of participants. And in 2022 they had 492 volunteer sign ups arranged into 49 teams! 

A major part of the nonprofit’s strategy was to use connections with community partners and in-kind donations to get tv/radio/newspaper advertising and lunches for their volunteers. This attention helped people know that the event was going on, which gave a boost to volunteer sign ups.

In Giveffect, they ran a report of previous volunteers for this event and using contact groups, where contacts affiliated with local churches were grouped together,  they ran an aggressive email outreach campaign. And it worked!

This grouping feature makes it extremely easy to reach out to any group in your nonprofit, and create new groups for any cause you may have. Let’s take a closer look at the system and how it works in the video above.

And Jenny Sanders, of Habitat for Humanity La Crosse area, discusses the advantages of Giveffect and the ability to create teams and keep track of volunteers easily. 

Giveffect makes it easy to track the number of teams by every event and campaign that you have and makes it easy to send emails to participants or team captains. You can focus your communication and make it as broad or specific as you need easily. 

Another fantastic feature in Giveffect is that you can also use customizable forms to learn more about your clients or volunteers. For example, in this Neighbors Day event, those who needed yard work or support could sign up for it using Giveffect forms to share exactly what they needed during the event. 

Overall, they worked on over 180 yards and it was a massive event success for Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area! 

Houston Veteran Cemetery Clean-Up Project (Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation)

Another successful nonprofit event that we want to take a look at is the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Houston Veteran Cemetery Clean-Up Project. This, like Neighbors Day, is a volunteer cleanup event, but instead of private yards, this is for local veteran cemeteries. 

This event was a massive success and had 218 volunteers sign up! But this event used the event page for a second purpose, getting needed cleaning supplies. They listed the supplies in their “About” section of the campaign page, and in doing so, were able to supplement the campaign with in-kind donations from partners. Some partners even contacted them directly to donate supplies!

Thanks to the donations of supplies, they were able to purchase lunch for their volunteers! Hear more from Bree Wily, associate director in the video above.

Let’s take a closer look at the in-kind donations and direct sponsorships from partners a little more. You can reach out directly in Giveffect to possible sponsorships and in-kind donations and track the sponsorships and how they are going. You can even thank them easily right inside the campaign. 

This event also was a great opportunity for networking for those in the industry to come together for a great cause. And it’s always a good idea to make sure that you give time and space to those possible networking activities. 

Now let’s look at some fundraising successful nonprofit events. 

Garden Party 2021 (Little Light House)

The Little Light House nonprofit held its annual Garden Party and it had massive success, raising an astounding $504,000! This was supplemented by using auctions (raising nearly $13,000) and ticket sales (adding barely $9,000 to the total).

Sponsorships were again critical in raising funds for this successful nonprofit event. They created a sponsorship book that was mailed directly to previous sponsors and used Giveffect contact groups to gather a list and track their largest donors. Giveffect makes it easy then to contact these donors (individual or organizations) and you can either simply use the sponsorship link created in Campaign Settings that is sent exclusively to certain donors, or also include the button on your campaign page.

You can hear more about the sponsorships and how they were used and hear from Bri Dodson, database manager in the video above.

And events like this have so many moving parts, from registration to auctions, to sponsorships and more. And Giveffect is one central source to store and organize all of that information. This allows everyone at the organization to see what current levels are, and how far they are from their goals at all times. 

Little Light House also had a virtual part of the event, and they helped those attending virtually feel connected to the event by sending them a small box of goodies delivered in the mail that included information about the event and more. 

And to take a brief look at another Garden Party in 2022 from Little Light House of Central Mississippi, they had a slightly different idea. They also had sponsorships, but they held a raffle. And these ‘raffle tickets’ were sold as products and they all sold out and raised an additional $28,000!

These Garden Parties show the importance of the event web page, and how it can organize all the parts of your nonprofit event, and how Giveffect can help keep you organized about every element and group involved in the CRM. 

7th Annual Gelatin Plunge (Children’s Cancer Center)

Another successful nonprofit event is the Children’s Cancer Center 7th Annual Gelatin Plunge and it was a huge success!  The event exceeded the fundraising goal of $85,000 by nearly $3,000!

Fundraising was the main focus for this event and to participate in the “plunge” certain rules were laid out: 

Individuals must raise $500

Teams of 2+ must raise $300 per person

Corporate teams include 4 plungers and the team must raise a minimum of $2,000

Establishing and communicating these clear goals was critical to the success of the event with 38 teams helping them exceed that goal. 

In Givefect, the fundraising platform helped keep all the teams and fundraisers organized and allowed for easy updates via email to make sure every team member was on the same page. 

In review, the two fundraising events that we have examined used a variety of tools to complete complex events. And Giveffect was critical in keeping everything organized and easily accessible for communication purposes. 

Large-scale events are the most complex, but also give more opportunities to raise more funds for your nonprofit. Giveffect provides the tools to create additional pathways of revenue including sponsorships, products, auctions, tickets, and three different styles of fundraising campaigns (simple, participant, and team).

And Giveffect is one hub to centralize all your access, so you do not have to switch tools and create and export and organize lists. Everything for each aspect of the event is in one place. 

Showrunner Sessions (Writers Guild Foundation)

The final successful nonprofit event is the Showrunner Sessions with the Writers Guild Foundation. This event is a little different as it was done virtually, but that comes with its own unique challenges. But it’s become all the more important in a post-pandemic world to have that flexibility. 

The April event featured some of the creators, producers, and writers of the tv show Yellowjackets (Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Jonathan Lisco and Julie Plec). They discussed the journey of bringing the pilot to Showtime and the creative process during the first season.

This community-building event is a monthly series that’s hosted by the foundation, but it is quite popular. The April session had over 600 people RSVP for the event! 

“The event was part of our regular series of events that we host several times a month,” Enid Portuguez, director of communications & events at the foundation said. “The goals of our virtual events are always to educate writers, connect them with each other, and build community.”

And Giveffect makes tracking these large number of registrations a breeze. Also, you can easily integrate Zoom by adding the Zoom event link into a Registration fee tier (even if the event is free).

With over 600 attendees you can then also stay engaged with them leading up to and after the event, all done very quickly and easily using Giveffect’s powerful communication features (emails, SMS).

The Giveffect Difference

Overall, Giveffect makes it easy for nonprofits to manage large-scale events or small-scale events, of all kinds. From fundraiser, to volunteer, to community building, Giveffect makes it easy to track every element of your goals, hard or soft, and stay in communication with everyone involved. 

Key event tools that can create a successful nonprofit event in Giveffect:

Communication: Email campaigns (broad and event specific), contact groups

Campaigns: Remember you can create a variety of campaigns: fundraising, volunteer, and RSVP. But these campaigns can be used in tandem with each other to meet your larger event goals.

Forms/Web Forms:  As part of your post-event follow-up you can create your own surveys in Giveffect using Web Forms.

Tracking donation data: Giveffect makes it simple for folks to donate online, but you also have the ability to add offline donations, including in-kind donations and the ability to show the monetized value of those in-kind donations.

Giveffect’s superpower is having all of these myriad tools together in one place to be used together to create, host, and study your amazing events!

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