I have found that one great way to get the word out about your event and increase attendance is to partner with another organization. Joint events will introduce your organization to a new group of people and reduce your cost and preparation time.
Finding Partner Organizations
Finding the right partner is easier than you think. Look for organizations that compliment your mission or would benefit from getting to know your members. When I worked for a minority chamber I would often partner with other minority organizations or groups looking to connect more with the minority community. Often groups looking to connect with minority members would become sponsors or members once they connected with our organization.
There are probably many great organizations in your community that you’ve never heard of. Search on Google or ask board members, employees and volunteers to tell you about other organizations they like. Then build a list of possible partners. Once the list is built, start contacting them to discuss event partnership opportunities. Usually I loathe cold calling, but in this case I found most organizations to be very receptive.
Offer to Create the Online Event Registration
Offer to create the event and take RSVPs so that more people are driven to the event. Using MembershipWorks, you can obtain the HTML snippet to embed the event’s registration form directly on your partner organization’s website, making it easy for event guests to register. When they see how easy it is to embed your event they may even offer to include more of your events on their website in the future.
Create an event confirmation email that includes a short introduction to both organizations. After the event send a follow-up email thanking attendees and giving them the contact information for both organizations. Provide links for them to join you or your partner’s email list as well.
Divvy up the Cost and Preparation
Decide ahead of time who will be researching locations, planning the menu, creating flyers and all of the other event planning tasks. By dividing up the list you cut your work in half. Make sure to decide on a budget and ticket cost for the event ahead of time as each group may have very different event customs. Also be sure to discuss how you will be splitting the bills. Some organizations I have partnered with are happy to split all costs down the middle, others prefer to split costs depending on the number of members from each group that attend.
Work the Room
On the day of the event make sure that all of your board members and committee members have name tags that point them out as such. Ask them to not only talk to the members they already know but to meet members from the partnering organization.
It’s human nature to gravitate towards groups of people you already know at an event. But if your members aren’t mingling with the other group’s members you will be missing out on one of your best forms of advertising. When your members say they have benefitted from being a member of your organization it carries more weight than if you tell someone they will benefit from joining your organization.
Once the event is done make sure you keep the momentum going with the follow-up. Talk to your members and see what they thought of the joint event. Have a meeting or phone call with board and committee members to learn about who they met. Make sure they follow-up with any potential new members in a timely manner. Provide a draft email that they could use to make the task of following up with potential members easier.