Recently, I had a client ask me who they should invite to a fundraising dinner. Here’s the situation they faced:
They had recently received several very large donations from some of their donors and they had a fundraising event coming up. The question was, “Should we invite our big donors to come to a fundraising dinner even though they just made a big donation?”
Great question. No one wants to offend a donor who just made a large gift by asking for another gift. We certainly don’t want to appear greedy, desperate or unappreciative.
But neither do we want to not invite one of our biggest donors to an important event! It’s easy to see the dilemma they faced and why this client struggled to decide what to do.
Here are two things to consider:
1. Is this a free event or an event that you need to buy a ticket to attend?
2. If you need to buy a ticket, how much does that ticket cost?
First, if the event is free, invite them! Leave it up to them if they want to make another donation or not! Donors to your cause want you to be successful. Their presence there (especially if they are known for their generosity) can encourage others to give.
If you are selling tickets to this event, also invite them! Fundraising dinners can be expensive to put on. The food alone might cost $50 per person, so it makes sense that someone who donated a large amount would certainly want to help cover the cost of their $100 ticket. I’ve never had dinner with a donor at a restaurant who has pledged $500 or more also expect me to also pick up the tab.
Finally, if you are selling “tables” to the event, most certainly invite them! Imagine with me that your donor just gave you $10,000 last month. This month you are promoting your event where you are selling tables (10 seats at each table) to your dinner for $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 or more.
I would invite your $10,000 donor to come to your dinner but I’d “gift” them a table. That means they can come for free and invite their friends to sit at the table with them (also for free.)
It’s the perfect win-win situation. You are gracious and thank your donor by gifting them a prominent table, while knowing that they will invite their friends to come, learn about your organization and they and their friends will likely make a donation.
There’s one last thing to consider: think of it from their point of view. Your donors participate in your mission by giving. Don’t deny them an opportunity to help, just as you wouldn’t deny a volunteer an opportunity to volunteer. Donors love to give, just like volunteers love to volunteer!