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How To Host a Successful Nonprofit Salon That Engages Your Biggest Supporters



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Most of us are familiar with the basics of nonprofit events, but what about salons?  

After all, they’re an ideal way to engage with your supporters and raise awareness about your cause or organization.  

So, what are they?

What is a Nonprofit Salon?

Salons are informal gatherings of people who share a common interest or affiliation. These events are typically held in more intimate settings, such as a private home, coffee shop, or small community space.  

The purpose of a salon is to encourage discussion amongst attendees. They can be valuable opportunities for nonprofits to engage and build relationships with supporters.  

By bringing together individuals who share a common interest or concern, a salon can create a sense of community and shared purpose. Unlike larger fundraising events, salons offer a more intimate setting that encourages participants to engage in open and honest dialogue. This can create a sense of trust and understanding between supporters and the nonprofit organization.

How to Host a Nonprofit Salon

Salons can be a cost-effective alternative to larger fundraising events, and they can be great opportunities to personally engage high-wealth donors.

Here are six steps to help you plan and execute a successful salon:

  1. Define the purpose of the salon. Identify the topic or issue you want to discuss, and define the goals and objectives for the event.
  1. Identify your target audience. Determine who you want to invite to the salon, and create donor avatars of potential attendees.
  1. Select an appropriate venue. Choose a location that's comfortable, welcoming, and conducive to conversation.
  1. Invite a guest speaker or panel of experts. Consider inviting a guest speaker or panel of experts to kick off the conversation.
  1. Create an engaging and meaningful experience. Provide food and drinks to encourage conversation and create a relaxed atmosphere. Incorporate activities or discussion prompts to encourage participants to share their thoughts and ideas.
  1. Curate your guest list. Create a compelling event description and design an attractive but casual invitation. Reach out personally to each of your invited guests, and check in closer to the date, as well.

After the event, follow up. Thank your guests for participating, and gather feedback on how to improve future salon events.

The Five People You Want at Your Nonprofit Salon

While the specifics of your guest list will depend on your organization’s unique needs, there are five kinds of people you should consider targeting for your nonprofit salon:

  1. Thought leaders in your field: Inviting influential people in your field, such as industry experts or prominent activists, can help to elevate the conversation and provide valuable insights and perspectives. This can also be a draw for attendees.
  1. Current donors and supporters: Inviting your existing supporters and donors can help to deepen your relationship with them and foster a sense of community around your cause. They can act as in-person testimonials at your event!
  1. Prospective donors and supporters: Inviting individuals who are interested in your cause or organization but have not yet made a donation or gotten involved can help to broaden your reach and build new relationships. Salons are often a good way to personally involve current and potential major donors.
  1. Volunteers and advocates: Inviting volunteers and advocates can help engage them in a deeper conversation about your work and recognize their contributions to your organization. They can also advocate on your organization’s behalf during the salon.
  1. Members of your community: Inviting members of the community who are affected by the issues you work on can help to create a sense of shared purpose and highlight the impact of your work. It can also provide you with valuable information about any gaps that still need to be filled in your community.

Preparing for a Nonprofit Salon

Because a nonprofit salon is a more intimate setting than your average fundraising event, nonprofit leaders must prepare themselves differently, as well.

Here are seven things you can do to make sure you’re as personally prepared as possible for a nonprofit salon:

Be Clear on the Salon’s Purpose and Objectives

Understand the goals of the salon and how they align with your organization's mission and values. This will help you frame the conversation and guide attendees toward any intended outcomes.

Know Your Audience

Understand who you’ll be engaging with at the salon and what their interests are. This will help you tailor your approach and create a meaningful experience for attendees.

Prepare Talking Points or Discussion Prompts

As a member of leadership, you may be leading the conversation at the salon. Prepare some talking points or questions that will help guide the discussion and engage your guests.

Be an Active Listener

Remember that the salon is not just about presenting information, but also about creating a space for dialogue and exchange of ideas. Be an active listener and engage with attendees in a meaningful way.

Familiarize Yourself With Guest Speakers or Panelists

If you’ve invited guest speakers or a panel of experts, familiarize yourself with their backgrounds and perspectives. This will help you to introduce people effectively and guide the conversation.

Be Prepared To Answer Questions About Your Organization

Attendees may have questions about your organization or the work you do. Be prepared to answer these questions in a clear and concise manner.

By personally preparing in these ways, you can play an effective role in hosting a successful salon event that engages with supporters, builds relationships, and raises awareness.

Cost-Effective Event Alternatives

Nonprofit salons offer excellent opportunities to build relationships with supporters, create a sense of community, and raise awareness of the work an organization does.  

Salons can be cost-effective alternatives to larger fundraising events. And they provide a more intimate setting for honest and meaningful conversations that more fully engage your donors and supporters!

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