Who’s Asking For Donations?
This seems to be the last week for most fundraising events. The events that are coming up are more celebratory given this special time of year. It’s a good time to focus on stewardship and planning for 2019.
Last night, the event I attended in NYC was coming to a close with the anticipated group “solicitation.” The awards were handed out, and the speaker shared her struggles and spoke about how the organization transformed her life. I don’t know how this gentleman was selected to do this solicitation, but he started at $25,000 and one person raised their hand. Great start, I thought. Then he looked around the room after no one else raised their hand and started at the next level. It seems as if there was no time for anyone else to make a commitment. He then said, “Ok, let’s now start at $10,000.” I thought to myself, “What happened to $20k and $15k?” I am often reminded about how money is continually left on the table at these types of events.
My preference is to have the event and follow up afterward individually with the key people who were in the room. This will maximize the gift. I’ve been to many events where major donors give significantly lower than their capacity. This closes the door for a major gift solicitation in the near term. At a recent event, a potential donor in a similar format raised his paddle and made a nice gift. He could have made a gift of 100 times that amount if he were asked privately (and he has for other organizations).
My point is to think about the real benefit of asking for donations in groups. Are you better served by telling the story at a great event with follow up visits afterward? My experience has been that doing this yields greater results. At a recent conference a major nonprofit who collaborated with a credit card company on data showed that the ideal time to follow up is 14 weeks after the event. How long does it take you to follow up?
“How can you expect a man who’s warm
to understand one who’s cold?”
Written by: Paul D’Alessandro
Founder and Chairman