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12 Ways to Attract Major Donors to Your Fundraising Event

31st March 2016
Charity Events

Fundraising events are a big investment so it’s vital to ensure they deliver the best possible return for your good cause. And whilst every donor is important, high-value donors are especially important if you want to raise awareness of your event and the work you do and ultimately ensure you meet those all-important financial targets. Because of this, third sector and not-for-profit foundations face increasing pressure to organise spectacular fundraising events that not only attract high-value donors, but also help forge lasting relationships with them. 

No matter how exciting your fundraising event maybe, getting high value donors to attend can still be a challenge for many foundations. We want to help. At Senate House, we’ve played host to hundreds of fundraising events over the years and picked up lots of valuable tips and advice for attracting those major donors, advice we want to share with you now. So read on and discover how best to find and approach high-value donors in order to ensure they tick the ‘attending’ box on the invite.

How To Find Major Donors

Use your data

Use your database of contacts to establish who you already have on your major donor list that you would like to attend the event. Your data is also a great place to research potential new high-value donors. For example, you may find someone who has made a particularly generous donation to your organisation recently or raised an exceptional amount through a Just Giving page with a number of high-donations.

Make it a group effort

Many major donors are already known to charities so don’t just look at databases, talk to staff, trustees and service users. Gather as much anecdotal information about your major donors and potential major donors as you can whilst doing this, it well be useful for you later.

Research, research, research

Look past the Sunday Times Rich List and get really creative with your research. Start locally – there may be other businesses, organisations or a prominent figure close by with potential contacts. Look for people with a track record of giving, an interest in the charity’s work or a personal connection to it.

Get to know and understand them

Before contacting them and while you’re in your research stages try and find out the following about each of your potential major donors:

  • Their motivations for giving
  • Preferred method of contact
  • Preferred method of giving
  • Volunteering interests

How To Approach Major Donors


Consider who you want any communication or invitations to come from. It may be that some of the major donors on your list already have established relationships with people within your organisation. If this is the case, any communication about the event or invites should come from them. If you are approaching potential major donors, it is generally more effective if communication comes from front-line staff, senior leadership or your CEO, rather than a fundraiser. Bear in mind that the ‘right’ person may very well be different for each of your major donors so you may want to set up an appeal board that includes people of influence who can approach your major donors.

Make it personal

Rather than sending out blanket messaging you want to develop carefully-tailored and more personal approaches for each of your potential major donors. This means you avoid overwhelming them with information and home in on the issues that would really interest them (we told you that extra research would come in handy!).

Tell a story

Bringing the cause to life through your story-telling will grab the attention of high-value donors. With the right narrative, you can inspire them to attend as people pay attention when they are made to feel something about a cause or event. Give the donors someone to identify with, showing who is affected by your cause. If you can tell the story of the positive difference your event will make, you can give donors clear motivation to become part of the story.

Be honest about your targets

Make it very clear to your potential guests what it is you’re trying to achieve with the money raised from the event and break your target down to highlight how donors and your non-profit can work together to support the protagonist of your story. It is extremely important to make sure they know their money will make a difference.

Offer exclusivity

Offering them the VIP treatment at your event is a nice way to show you value their attendance. Major donors should be made to feel appreciated.

Do not over solicit

It can be extremely off-putting to be over-burdened with communications you do not want. Try and gauge the situation with each major donor when approaching them - if they are responsive and positive continue getting to know them and definitely invite them to your event. If they have stopped answering your calls, you know you need to take a backseat and give them time to consider.

Treat them with respect

It’s important to be nice. Remember, you’re not just approaching these donors to invite them to your event, you are also trying to establish a friendship and long-lasting relationship with them.

Follow up

Once you’ve sent out your invitations follow up with a call. This not only acts as a reminder, it is also the kind of added personal touch that may convince them to attend!

Now it’s over to you, good luck in finding those all-important major donors and raising money for your good cause! 

Fundraising Events At Senate House

We have a number of stunning Art Deco event rooms perfect for hosting all kinds of fundraising events from a full-blown out charity dinner dance to an intimate banquet. Our unique 1930s rooms include Beveridge Hall, MacMillan Hall and Chancellor’s Hall, all of which are sure to wow your guests.

At Senate House we strive to offer our patrons all of the glamour of the 1930s with 21st century technology and our dedicated events team are always on hand to take your query. If you are interested in hosting your next fundraising event in this unique and historic building, get in touch with us today.

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