Set Casual Tone for Donor Appreciation Events
Thanking your chapter’s donors is something we must do to ensure continued support from RMEF’s most ardent local supporters. Donor appreciation events do not need to be extravagantly planned evenings. Just as much can be accomplished with an informal gathering of your chapter’s best supporters—it’s a simple and effective way to let folks know they are appreciated.
Several chapters in western Montana and northern Idaho host a casual evening event for their donors and supporters. The invite list usually includes Legacy Donors, Habitat Partners, Sponsor Members, Life Members and other donors who have done a significant amount for RMEF.
These events usually take place on a weekday evening, three to five weeks prior to the chapter’s banquet. They are held somewhere the chapter can provide the food and beverages, such as a community center or park. Appetizers or an easy meal such as chili, pulled pork sandwiches or burgers, is served buffet-style and the cost is covered by the chapter or donated by multiple donors or volunteers.
Holding these events prior to the banquet oftentimes means an additional opportunity to display merchandise, so attendees can get a good look at items they’ll have a chance to bid on at banquets.
Following the social hour and meal, the regional director and chapter chairs give a short thank-you presentation. This is a great opportunity to show an RMEF mission accomplishment PowerPoint and/or video. The goal is to show attendees what mission-related work the Elk Foundation has done that was possible only because of their support.
“We can never thank our donors enough,” says Idaho State Chair Wayne Brood after recently hosting one of these events. “These appreciation events are an investment for RMEF and pay off tenfold. I encourage all chapters to host similar events as they are well worth the time and energy.”
Simple thank-you events also allow chapters and donors to gather on new ground, where asking for support isn’t part of the evening’s agenda.
“A casual appreciation event allows us to connect with our donors at a different level,” says Mike Zaragoza, the Montana state chair. “At these events we are not asking them for anything; we are there to thank them for what they’ve already done. It is important that we interact with our donors rather than only asking for them to give more.”
These events have been very successful and are critical to ensuring continued support from a chapter’s top donors. Oftentimes the folks who attend will renew their sponsor membership, buy a life membership, or leave a check with us at the end of the evening. By showing supporters we truly appreciate everything they do for RMEF, it’s more likely they will continue to invest their support with us in the future.
Regional Director, northern Idaho and western Montana