Special Events Are on the Rise in 2022

Special events are on the rise

Special Events Are on the Rise in 2022

More nonprofits are adopting special events in the coming year to build emotional connections with donors, and develop lasting relationships.

Whether they’re focused on fundraising or on stewardship, special events can create intimate, memorable experiences that bring donors closer to the cause. Showcasing the work your nonprofit does can really drive home the impact of the mission, the programs and services you provide. These events are often smaller and easier to coordinate than a large annual gala. They enable nonprofits to hold them more frequently at a lower cost.

Greater Giving’s upcoming report on The State of Nonprofit Fundraising found that only 20% of organizations surveyed said special events were critical fundraising activities last year.  Nonprofits continue to face stiff competition for limited fundraising dollars. In response, they’re looking for more cost-effective ways to engage with donors and earn their loyalty.

Sign up here to be the first to see the full report for even more fundraising insights!

In the coming year, 48% of nonprofits report they are increasing their focus on special events in 2022! Over 23% of organizations see special events as critical revenue sources in the coming year. Another 13% believe will become a very important part of their fundraising portfolio.

The State of Nonprofit Fundraising 2022 Report

Why the focus on special events?

Special events provide a platform for donors to interact directly with staff, clients, and programs. Doing this fosters a deeper, more personal connection with the cause. The intimate setting allows donors to feel more included in your nonprofit’s progress, while fewer attendees makes them cost-effective and more conducive to health and safety restrictions.
Special events can be tailored to share any nonprofit’s story in an engaging way. Engagement opportunities ensure that donors feel inspired by—and motivated to support!—your organization’s essential work. Nonprofits reported in The State of Nonprofit Fundraising 2022 that one of the biggest challenges they faced was maintaining donor engagement.

What are some ideas for special events my nonprofit could hold? 

The best news is that there are no hard and fast rules for special events. Your team can create whatever type of event suits your capacity and tells the story of why your organization’s work matters!


With spring and summer on the horizon, special events taking place outdoors can be a great opportunity to gather with supporters safely and build those close connections.

But to give you some inspiration for your own special donor event, we’d like to share stories of some Greater Giving clients. These organizations successfully used special events to inspire donors, develop the community, and raise awareness about their cause.

The V Foundation

As a nonprofit funding groundbreaking cancer research, the V Foundation hosts an annual symposium for medical researchers to share and discuss recent advances in the fight against cancer.

This accomplishment-focused symposium allows donors to see the impact of their donations. Seeing these powerful results motivates them to continue supporting the cause. It also opens doors for new donors in the community to learn about their life-saving work! Read the full client story here for more details about the Symposium, and how the V Foundation managed to include guests virtually.

TIP: One of the biggest challenges nonprofits face in 2022 are ongoing restrictions on in-person gatherings, which can get in the way of hosting a truly moving experience for donors. But many organizations have discovered they can still hold these engaging special events virtually!

The Woodland Park Zoo

A nonprofit zoo focused on creating connections between people and wildlife. The Woodland Park Zoo includes a special event as part of their annual gala to bring potential donors closer to the cause.

Animals and their handlers are greeted by guests, emphasizing the zoo’s mission of saving wildlife and inspiring everyone to make conservation a priority. They also host special events like “WildLanterns”  throughout the year. At this event guests can view lantern sculptures depicting wild landscapes and large animals from around the world!

Read about their event , and find their events calendar here.

Youth Music Project

The Youth Music Project provides outstanding rock, pop, and country music education for youth. Their services positively transform lives through the power of music. Most of their students don’t pay any tuition. This means fundraising an essential component of their ability to enrich young lives through music.

To bolster revenue outside of their annual gala, they used Greater Giving’s software to raise money through a Holiday Happy Hour! They also included special event components into their virtual gala with celebrity guest performances, and a virtual tour of the facilities. Read about their successes here


Bring your donors directly into your world. Giving tours of your facilities (whether virtually or in-person), livestreaming the work you do in the community, or featuring beneficiaries and success stories gives donors a “backstage pass” to your mission.

What can nonprofits learn from these events?

    • Special events can be a part of your fundraising strategy, or not! They can help generate revenue while also sharing the value of the work your nonprofit does.

Customize your organization’s event to showcase your programs and success stories. Don’t forget to highlight all of the work still left to do (with donor support)!

Including donors in the journey that your nonprofit and its clients have taken can inspire giving for future initiatives.

Think about ways that your specific supporters and donors want to be engaged. You can even send out a survey to see what type of event they’d enjoy! Everybody likes to feel like they’ve had an impact on a decision. More donors are likely to participate in events that meet their interests.

By planning a few special events in the coming year, your organization can save time and money while deepening connections with donors. Use unique ideas like hosting a guest speaker on a livestream, or providing a tour of your facilities in person.

Gain more insights from The State of Nonprofit Fundraising 2022 report! Download here.

Thinking of hosting, or already planned a special event for 2022? Do you have questions about what a special event could look like? 

Reach out to us with your stories and questions drop us a line below. For assistance with making your Greater Giving software work for your unique event contact technical support!

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