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How Entertainers Can Make the Most out of Holiday Giving Events

It’s that time of year when celebrities, athletes, and entertainers make front page news for their charitable giving. Stars like Jay-Z, Steph Curry or Lady Gaga don’t exactly need help getting more press, but most want their events to do more than just capture the spotlight. They want to show that they’re making a real difference in the world. How?

Capture impact data. That means going beyond the numbers to get the stories behind your cause. Does your foundation help people in poverty? Think about telling that story not through dollars spent, but how many electric bills you helped pay to keep the lights on, or how many kids got a present during the holidays for the first time. Are you focused on educating youth? Consider having a student as a keynote speaker who you gave a scholarship to talk about the opportunities that have been opened up to them four years later. The key here is to show, don’t just tell.

Keep your audience engaged post-event. One-time ambassadors for your foundation, especially ones who are friends of celebrities, can make a real impact for your end of year event. But to build ambassadors out of event attendees - to have a sustained impact, you need sustained engagement. The first step is to think about a good method for collecting contact information - a full CRM like Blackbaud, DonorPerfect or Monday, an email-centric service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, or even just a manually entered list could work for small organizations. Point is, gather data about your event attendees ahead of time (and at the event), so you can use that information later to reach their networks and expand your own.

Use your celebrity, and good PR. Getting press attention might be a snap for a charity founded by an athlete or musician, but this is about getting the right kind of attention. Hire a PR strategist who specializes in getting earned media like feature stories and podcast interviews, where you can get beyond the “what” to really delve into the “why” and “how” of your foundation’s mission. And this is another good place to plug that impact data and those stories you should be collecting. Press coverage can go a lot further than paid advertisements that might work to get eyeballs on your event, but don’t keep people coming back for more or wanting to spread the word about your effect on the communities you serve. Public Relations builds trust. You simply cannot do for yourself what third-party validation can do. 

Unsurprisingly, many of these strategies are the same ones that the top-performing nonprofits, politicians, and businesses use to highlight their charitable efforts. You don't have to be an entertainer to take a lesson from these organizations for your next holiday giving event.

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