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Nonprofit Pop-Up Events Add a Little Spark to Donor Relationships

surprise pop-up events

“Life’s most delicious moments never happen on schedule.”

That’s the opening statement of an article by Elizabeth Wellington in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Elizabeth discussed how to get back the spontaneity that has been lost to COVID-19.

Although society is slowly emerging from the pandemic and restrictions are loosening, most people are proceeding cautiously. You can’t just flip a switch and resume your regularly scheduled programming as if the pandemic didn’t happen.

As a result, impromptu meetings, outings, and moments are still missing. Moments that are memorable for their randomness have largely disappeared. Life is more planned and scheduled than it has ever been.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little spontaneity back into your life and the lives of your donors.

Donors expect your nonprofit’s emails and social media posts. They expect to receive letters and postcards in the mailbox. They know when your big events are.

What they could really use right now is a dose of the unexpected – something that breaks them out of their routine and puts a smile on their face!

Let’s take a lesson from the teachers and principals across the country.  During the pandemic, they drove by students’ homes and honked their horns to wish them a happy birthday or dropped off treats and goodie bags with school swag. This was a memorable highlight for some students and their parents!

We’re encouraging small nonprofits to engage donors in a fun way with pop-up events – planned by your nonprofit but unexpected and fun for your donors! While these can be virtual events, look for ways to hold a safe pop-up event in person and give people the live interaction they’ve been missing.

Here are just a few examples of possible nonprofit pop-up events.

  • Pop-up balloons, cards, and small gifts left on the mailboxes of major donors, for no other reason but to say “thank you.”
  • Pop-up birthday wishes, with everyone on your list encouraged to send birthday cards by a certain date to someone who could use the positivity.
  • Pop-up truck stop where you bring a truck to a public park or parking lot for an afternoon and fill it with as many donations (food, toys, coats, pet food, etc.).
  • Pop-up email fundraiser, with a single email used to promote a one-day fundraiser in partnership with a donor or business sponsor that will match all gifts up until a specific deadline.
  • Pop-up children’s character meet-and-greet, with the children of all parents who donate receiving a free photo with a popular character.
  • Pop-up virtual Zoom birthday party held the same day for all the live birthday parties that were missed.
  • Pop-up Ice Cream Social with an Ice Cream Truck ready to give out free ice cream sponsored by donors or the organization.

If your small nonprofit pop-up event is a fundraiser or collection, see if you can provide a gift to every donor, even if it’s just a small promotional item or candy, to show your appreciation. You can also provide personalized thank you gifts based on the information stored in your donor management software.

Share photos and videos on social media while the event is happening or immediately following the event while it’s still fresh in the minds of all who participated! Finally, let people know to keep an eye out for more of your nonprofit’s pop-up events in the future.

The most important part of a pop-up event is to make it a fun surprise! Create the spontaneity that people so desperately need while building stronger relationships with your donors. Give them the one thing they haven’t been able to enjoy for more than a year – something unexpected!