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4 Key Strategies to Create Modern Nonprofit Events

By March 6, 2023Events, Nonprofit Tips
eleo nonprofits nonprofit events millenials

Whether it’s your annual gala or yearly auction, strategies for getting supporters through the door at nonprofit events are changing. It’s important that small nonprofits understand the generational shift driving this change.

When it comes to nonprofit events, age matters. Ask yourself the following – What is the average age of your current nonprofit event attendees? What age are you targeting for these events? Are the activities at your event suitable and enticing for the targeted age group? The reality is that Baby Boomers are aging out of the event scene, and Millennials are ready to attend! For that reason, the time has come to modernize your small nonprofit events for the next generation of attendees.

Below we discuss the 4 best strategies for mastering modern nonprofit events.

#1 Create Shorter, More Casual Events

Gone are the days of planning a massive, evening long gala with fancy dresses. Millennials are the generation of comfort and efficiency. Of equal importance is the fact that many Millennials are building families and will have to pay for childcare for the duration of your event.

It’s time for your small nonprofit events to focus on being less time consuming and more casual. What might this look like? Host a paid entry happy hour or rent a space for a few hours of live music. This style of event allows supporters to come and go when they’re available and provides you the opportunity to include other activities for the donor to give once there.

#2 Offer Interactive Event Activities 

When brainstorming modern nonprofit event activities, it’s critical to remember two things – First, Millennials have little interest in schmoozing and networking on their night off. And second, they prefer interactive, experience-based events. This means Millennials want to hang with people they already know, while doing something engaging.

To satisfy this shift in event preferences, your small nonprofit should be thinking of entertainment options like – build your own bouquet tables, hands-on cooking classes, and instructional painting sessions.

#3 Offer Discounts to Current Donors

Many small nonprofits worry that discounts on event tickets cost them valuable upfront fundraising dollars. While this may have been valid in the past, it is no longer a cause for concern. What’s changed?

As mentioned, Millennials and Gen Zers tend to have their friend communities established. If they are planning a night out, they want to go with familiar faces. By offering entry ticket discounts to your current donors, it allows them to easily bring along their friends. This, in turn, dramatically increases the number of potential supporters introduced to your cause; plus, it organically boosts the number of people donating at the event.

Quick Tip – Avoid cheesy language and sales pitches. Offer something simple like a ‘Buy One, Get One,’ so a donor who purchases a ticket can bring a friend for free.

#4 Lower the Barrier to Entry

Continuing from our previous point, getting more Millennials in the door is key. However, sticker shock is very real for this generation! Millennials are much less likely to pay big bucks to simply attend an event. However, they are willing to spend more once immersed in the experience. So, how should your small nonprofit navigate this?

It’s time to lower your barrier to entry and shift your event fundraising projections. Instead of using entry tickets as your largest income stream, consider them a tool to get more millennials to attend. To do so, decrease the cost to enter, while simultaneously shifting your larger fundraising bucket to the in-person activities. Simply put: implement low-cost entry ticket and higher cost activities.


As Baby Boomers age out of event attendance and Millennials move in, the time has come to modernize your nonprofit events. Recognizing shifts in the industry allows your small nonprofit to think creatively and responsively. By cultivating casual, interactive events, you will gain supporters within this up-and-coming generation, to carry your nonprofit into the future.

Need help organizing your supporters by generation? Check out Eleo Donor Management [insert landing page of choice… maybe lists?] for custom donor lists, groupings, and more.