How to Wow the Crowd at a Fundraising Event

By Ryan Grosso, Orr Associates, Inc.

It can be challenging to stand up and speak in front of a crowd. Knowing what is at stake for your organization ramps the pressure up even more. Here are some tips to help you prepare to speak at any fundraising event, whether large or small. Use these best practices to win over a crowd and make new friends for your organization!

First, Know Your Audience

Make sure to answer these vital questions

  • Whoare you addressing? What do they know about your organization? Are they current donors? Are they prospects? Tailor your remarks and your level of detail to the crowd.
  • What is your goal? Why is everyone gathered together? What is the goal of the event? Make sure to confirm your expectations and review your talking points with your organization’s leadership or the person responsible for the event, to ensure everyone is one the same page.

Second, Make Sure You’re Prepared

Think about how you will connect with your audience

  • Establish credibility and approachability. What is your story? Why is this cause important to you? Making it personal will enhance your audience’s sense of connection.
  • How can you connect to your audience emotionally? Think about how your experience with an issue/cause could be similar to someone else’s experience.

Develop your speech’s flow

  • Focus on 2-3 main concepts.Group your remarks into 2-3 overarching sections. This will help keep the audience focused and make it easy to follow along. For example: 1) My experience with this organization; 2) How the organization’s work has impacted me; 3) Why the audience’s involvement is important/meaningful.
  • Transitions are key. Flowing seamlessly between sections helps keep the audience engaged.
  • Include stories. Speak to your story or the story of someone in your life. Including personal references will draw the audience in and help them understand the importance of the cause.
  • Avoid common pitfalls. Avoid using overly complex or specific descriptions; stick to the highlights instead. Try and avoid using too many numbers. Facts and figures can be compelling but adding too many can cause the audience to lose attention. Lastly, less is more. Stick to your talking points, as tangents can confuse a crowd and disengage listeners.
  • The closing. Speak to why you choose to support this important cause. Communicate why your audience should act now.  

Third, Remember This While You Are Speaking

Commit to your remarks and engage with your audience

  • Speak from the heart. Don’t just read your notes. Make eye contact with your audience and speak passionately and with vigor. Stand tall and proud. Body language is key!
  • Let your passion flow. Don’t be afraid to show emotion and vulnerability; they help bring the subject to life!
  • Take a deep breath and have fun with it!Your audience will be relaxed and engaged if you are.

Following these tips will ensure your public speaking success and help you engage individuals in your organization’s mission. Now go out there and get them!


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