Nonprofit Kit For Dummies, 6th Edition
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When it’s time to host a special event for your nonprofit, make your invitation something your potential guests will open and remember. If it’s a physical invitation, addressing the envelope by hand and using stamps rather than metered postage makes it look more personal, and an intriguing phrase or logo on the outside may lead to its being opened.

What do recipients see first when they open your invitation? Most invitations are made up of an outer folded piece, a reply card, and a reply envelope. Want some more attention? What if a compelling photograph slips out of the envelope? Or a small black cat, spider, or bat sticker falls out of your Halloween invitation?

Even if you choose to include all of these bells and whistles, make clarity a priority. Make sure the reader of your invitation can easily see who’s extending the invitation, what the event is, where and when it’s being held, how much it costs, and how to respond to the invitation. If people have to search for these basics, the invitation will land in the recycling bin.

People look forward to your event more if other people they know are going to be there. Make sure the names of the people on your event committee are clearly and prominently presented. Also list top sponsors (cash and in-kind) on the invitation so invitees can see what businesses are involved in the event. These tips are equally true for the electronic version of your invitation: Make it easy for your invitees to make reservations and send contributions.

Print the address, phone number, and/or website to which your guest should respond somewhere on the reply card, even though it’s also printed on the reply envelope. Sometimes the pieces of an invitation become separated. You want your guests to readily know where to send their replies (and money!).

For informal and low-cost events, you may want to send only an e-invitation, using a service such as EventBrite or Paperless Post, which will distribute your invitation, collect reservations, send reminders to your guests, and urge them to invite others through social media. If you have good email lists of your donors and contacts, this approach can save you postage costs and reduce paper waste.

A few disadvantages are that it can be challenging to include full credit to sponsors, and some people still find electronic invitations to be informal, making your event seem less important to recipients.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Beverly A. Browning, MPA, is a grant-writing course developer who has been consulting in the areas of grant writing, contract bid responses, and organizational development for more than 40 years. She has assisted clients throughout the United States in receiving awards of more than $430 million. Learn more at Stan Hutton is a senior program officer at the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation.

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