The Psychology Behind Events (When They Start Again)

* Editor’s note: The NPT received the session information from this speaker for this session.

Many nonprofit managers are frustrated by the struggle to create engaging and profitable fundraising events. These managers might try changing venues and revamping themes, but to find event success they should instead be focusing on how they can harness neuroscience and psychology to powerfully connect with guests to create meaningful moments and memorable experiences.

It is imperative to consider psychology and neuroscience during the initial event planning phases. “Most fundraisers aren’t aware that this will have an enormous positive impact on an event guest’s experience, as well as on the event’s ultimate profitability,” according to A.J. Steinberg, CFRE, principal of Queen Bee Fundraising in Calabasas, Calif. “Also, a meaningful experience at a fundraising event starts the process of relationship-building, which opens the door to post-event cultivation in order to turn those guests into donors.”

Steinberg’s slated session for AFPICON was “The Psychology Behind Successful Fundraising Events.”
Steinberg explained to session attendees that, whether they are aware of it or not, all live events and gatherings play into the basic human need for community and belonging. “People crave real connection, especially when it includes experiencing something meaningful with a crowd of like-minded folks,” she told The NonProfit Times. Whether packed in a crowd of avid music fans at a live concert or sitting shoulder-to-shoulder singing hymns at a neighborhood church, a live group setting can elevate even mundane experiences into powerful moments.

Nonprofit events have the added opportunity to engage emotional triggers such as the need to feel personally valued and the deep human desire to do good. “It is a shame when fundraisers direct the focus of the event to auctions and raffles,” said Steinberg. “Sure, those are entertaining for guests and can raise some money, but a live event’s focus should always be on the organization’s mission and messaging. People didn’t come to your event to buy stuff, they came to be inspired and to fall in love with your organization. People are looking for ways to add meaning in their lives, and it is your job as a nonprofit event producer to give them a reason to partner with your organization to do good in the world.”

The choices made when planning nonprofit events heavily impact guests’ psychological and emotional triggers. Understanding these triggers will help you create an event at which creates a community bond, boost guests’ self-esteem, and make them eagerly raise their paddles to generously support your organization and its mission.