We’ve had some really great feedback and thoughts on a recent post highlighting the importance of caring for the little things to make your big fundraising events awesome.  Really excited to learn it has been helpful!  As a result I’ve been thinking more about the not so little things that are also critical to ensure we knock our guests socks off.

Arguably, one of the biggest things to absolutely get right at your fundraising dinner, gala, or extravaganza, is the Ask.  This is the part when you Ask for the dough.  Ask for the partnership.  Ask for folks to believe in your mission’s agency by investing financially.  It’s kind of the whole point.  I’ve been to a number of events and seen this done really well, other times, not so much.  So, while these may be no-brainers for some,  to increase the likelihood of folks responding well to our Ask, I’ll offer the following guidelines/reminders:

  1. Consider carefully who you will invite to do this.  A Board Member, major donor, individual whose life has been positively impacted by the work your agency is doing are all potentially good choices.  Keep in mind you are NOT looking for a keynote speaker.
  2. Keep it short.  Depending upon how you have framed the rest of the program, at this point, folks are ready to be asked.  It is not likely they need more information.
  3. Keep it clear.  Provide specific value offers.  Consider sharing your annual budget.  Let folks know what a gift of $10,000, $5,000, $1,000, and even smaller amounts can do – practically.
  4. Keep it compelling.  Building upon the emotional crest that has been built, and articulate in a spirited way the impact the gifts given will realize.
  5. Create a match.  If you have a generous donor willing to make a pre-negotiated match, share that with your folks.
  6. Provide clear instructions on how the response, giving, or pledge card works.  Take a few moments to walk through it as you do not want guests in the seats to have questions.
  7. Make sure that folks have time to fill out their pledge card.  Background music is great.  Don’t rush them.

Would love to hear other thoughts on how to create a world class Ask?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog.

The Power of One

by Jason Dick

Every board I’ve worked with has board members who are more involved and board members who are less involved. Some of your board members are doers and others are not. If you have a smaller board of 5 to 10 people, then you probably have a board that is almost full of doers. If you have a board of 25+, then you probably know which board members are doers, which ones are only there for the meetings, and which ones you are surprised if you ever see.

Every development person loves the doers on their board. I’m not talking about the doer that gets in the way and is always pushing their own agenda. I’m talking about the doer who wants to help out and is always the first person to volunteer. Finding a way to sustain that kind of engagement is important. You want your board members and volunteers to have a good experience; those that are doers you want to have an even better experience so they will keep helping. Do not overwhelm these people with a thousand different projects and a dozen different action items that is a guaranteed way to burn a volunteer out and keep them from volunteering again.

Give your doers one big task at a time to accomplish. If you must, give them two or three; but don’t give them any more tasks than that. When you give someone just one task you will find that the task gets done quicker and more comprehensively. The less tasks the higher likelihood they will be accomplished. Fewer tasks also mean you have an opportunity to thank and praise your volunteers more often for their essential work. This creates a cycle of good experiences where volunteers know you appreciate the work that they are doing and feel a since of pride that you can count on them to get the work done.

How is your Board doing?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog

Are you taking notes?

February 18, 2015

It’s always a win during in-person meetings when our supporters and prospects share about their families, work, interests, passions, and other colors that shape their story.  As development professionals, hopefully we have taken some time to craft and consider good questions to get folks talking when we have the opportunity to connect for coffee, a […]

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Showing Off Your Non-Profit: A Word About Tours

February 16, 2015

A donor tour is possibly one of the most exciting parts of fundraising. Tours give you the opportunity to show off your organization and talk to your donors face to face. They provide you the chance to share all your organization’s wonderful stories and provide a context for the work that you do. In a […]

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I really need some new material!

February 11, 2015

As Development professionals, we are story tellers.  We are deft and creative about sending messages to our supporters and prospects that generate a response.  Our hope is that the messages we send will be so compelling that those that hear and receive it will respond by giving financially to our cause.  This is a simplified […]

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Cold Calling or Networking

February 9, 2015

We are all looking for new donors and new partnerships. And how else do you find these relationships without networking or cold calling? Below are a few advantages to each. Networking can work extremely well if you have active volunteers or you have a lot of personal connections. It is always smart to let board […]

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Phone calls, and emails, and Facebook, oh my!

February 4, 2015

So, maybe not scary, but, the technological choices that we have to make in terms of how best to engage, followup, and seek to connect with supporters, prospects, and partners are becoming increasingly diversified.  With social media anchoring so many interactions we have with people, the penchant for more personal connection that the phone affords, […]

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With a BIG event, it’s all about the little things.

February 2, 2015

Galas.  Extravaganzas.  5Ks.  Auctions.  You insert the action here – A-thons.  Let’s face it, our signature events are a really big deal when it comes to strengthening relationships with our existing support base, as well as acquiring new giving relationships.  These events are key platforms to increase the likelihood of hitting our fiscal goals, and […]

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Help! This donor just won’t talk to me!

January 28, 2015

Ok.  You just had a great big unsolicited gift come in.  You’re not sure why, but super grateful and excited.  Could be a response to a splash in the media, friend of a friend, year end tax break, the list goes on.  You celebrate for a few minutes but then the work begins because as you […]

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Growing your Existing Donor Base

January 26, 2015

Everyone is always looking for ways to grow their donor base so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions and tips that I’ve used myself. Feel free to add some of your own ideas. The first step would be to figure out what you mean when you say “donor base.” Are we talking about monthly […]

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