Pivoting Events for the New Reality [free resource round up]

Pivoting Events for the New Reality [free resource round up]

This is a Free Resource Round Up featuring some of the fundraising event resources we have at Productive Fundraising. When writing this it is late spring of 2020 — a crazy time for events as we’re in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has completely thrown fundraising events through a loop. Everybody’s had to deal with these decisions: Do I cancel? Do I postpone? Or do I take it virtual? Well, good news. There are tons of great resources out there to help with these decisions. Here are a few resources to get you started in case you are still grappling with these decisions:

But what I want to focus on is the bigger picture with fundraising events. What happens after this year? Are these changes we’re going to make this year permanent changes? Or is this just a one time thing? Can we use this as an opportunity to maybe re-evaluate some of those events? Could we get rid of some of those events that we do because we’ve just always done it this way. Do you find that you get the same people attending your events who would probably contribute to your organization, whether you did the event or not? I truly believe that the primary purpose of a fundraising event is not necessarily to raise money as much as it is to introduce new people to your organization. So what can we do to keep things fresh and exciting and bring in those new people?

Yes, we still want to make money. But let’s not use our events as another tactic to get funds from folks who would possibly contribute another far easier way. So take a chance to evaluate your current events, which ones are doing that? Which ones match your mission? Is there a reason you should be doing a golf tournament? Are you an athletic organization, something sports related? Is there a mission tie to it? What about your gala? Are there these tedious events that take tons of staff time and really don’t make that much money? Is there something you could do more mission-related to show people what you do and inspire them and really use that event to tell your story? Is it a unique event that really gets people excited?

These are some of the ways I evaluate fundraising events and my friends, Jim Anderson and Alice Ferris at GoalBusters Consulting created this great evaluation sheet. It’s one of my favorite resources that I keep in my library. It’s simply called Evaluation Sheet For New Fundraising Ideas. But my trick with this tool is to put everything on there. Put your current ideas and plans on there but then also put potential new ideas on there too! In our current reality you could put the potential virtual ideas on there and evaluate it against what you’re currently doing. This tool can help you see the potential impact of your ideas – and what I want you to do is not just see it through this year, but look at this as a lasting change. Be thinking ‘how can I make my job easier and let us raise more money at the same time?’ I think it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to do that.

So, here’s my bottom line with events: No more than two major fundraising events per year. And ideally just one. Just do one big thing, go big! Get it done with, then you have more time to spend one-on-one with donors and more time on stewardship. Events take us out of that mode where we’re building those individual donor relationships. Nearly 80% of all fundraising dollars come from individual relationships and I think that’s going to shift even more in our current reality.

So you’re ready to plan a new event, what’s that first step? Most people jump right into the what, how, why, where, all those logistics questions with an event plan. I don’t like to do that first.

I like to start with the budget because if the budget doesn’t make sense, then I don’t want to put all the effort into thinking through all those logistics. So just take the big picture view of the budget. What’s that look like? What could ticket prices be? What kind of sponsorship revenue could be had? On the expense side, big picture, what are we going to do with virtual? We’re going to have to do a tech crew, make it big, increase that production value. Virtual events need to be more like TV shows. You need to do something more engaging on those virtual events. So you’re going to need to spend some money. So work out that budget. Virtual events seem to be cheaper than regular ones, but they’re not free. You need to invest in that production quality and make it something people actually want to see and attend. So do that budget first … here’s our Event Budget Template.

Then if you have something viable, develop a preliminary event plan (here’s our Event Planning Template) that you could possibly run through the food chain and see if we can get everybody on board and go in this direction.

So those are some of the event resources we have here. I encourage you to check those out, they’re in the links. I encourage you to use use this time when maybe we can’t do those live events to re-imagine the ones you’ve had in the past. Think about how they can be adjusted for the future and what do you really want that to look like? You have the chance to reinvent your job right now. What will it look like two years from now when all of this is over and we can go back to fundraising the way we want to fundraise. But let’s not fundraise the way we’ve had to fundraise because we’ve always done it this way. Use this time, fundraisers.

Your Key to Year Over Year Fundraising Event Growth

Your Key to Year Over Year Fundraising Event Growth

If you’re in the middle of planning a big fundraising event, you’re probably already dreaming of that day where you can put it to rest. A lot of times I see nonprofits do the event and then send out the thank you notes and they’re done. They don’t think about it anymore until about three or four months before it comes around again on the annual calendar. I encourage you to spend a little bit more time on that event right afterwards and save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Plus, you’ll be more likely to take that event to the next level the following year.

How do you do that? An event recap. Not a giant report, but a one page overview of the event. It contains a little bit of background information about the event (in case somebody has to recreate it next year) and then some comparison data. It answers questions like: What’s the purpose of this event? How did this year compare to the year before? Which way are we trending?

The final two components are what helps to take the event to the next level in future years. You need to answer: What went really well this year? and What do we need to work on for next year? If we document that, then when it’s time to get started the following year, we can pick up right where we left off and not have to recreate our previous work. So I encourage you to spend an hour or two to do an event recap, put in your files, then forget about the event. Go take a rest, go take a spa day, go take a hike, get some “me time” and really recover. Give yourself that self-care that we need after these big gigantic fundraising events and rest assured that next year’s event is already on the path to success.

How to Make Things Easier for Your Event Sponsors

How to Make Things Easier for Your Event Sponsors

I know that a lot of us always go back to the same event sponsors. We go back to the same deep wells of generosity. Why? Because it’s easy! They’ve already shown that they’re good and faithful supporters, and we want to renew those contributions. Hopefully we are trying to get new players in the game, but we have a tendency to go back to the same places.

Donor fatigue is real. This is especially true with the big companies that are most likely to be our lead event sponsors. At these companies there is usually just one or two people who’re responsible to meet with all of the charity officials. So, what are we going to do? How are we going to make their life easier?

We need to be become one of their favorites. We need to build the relationship and give them exactly what they need. Don’t be the appointment that inspires thoughts like “Oh, they’re coming in again. What are they going to want this time?” Instead let’s make sure you’re met with excitement. And you do that by making it easy for them.

I recommend you meet with your corporate sponsors just once a year, and at that meeting you outline your plans for the entire year. So, in a way, you present them with a menu of giving opportunities. You outline exactly what your major events are, what you need, and how they can help. This menu has all of the sponsorship options for each of your events listed. Maybe they want a table here, a foursome there, whatever the case may be let them do it all at once. Make it EASY. They can do it all in one payment or they can spread out their payments throughout the year.

Besides an easy and pleasant meeting, what else do our major sponsors want? What are we giving them in return? You should come up with some year round recognition opportunities for them. They don’t just want one day or night of recognition, they want to be able to show that they are a corporate supporter of X, Y, Z non profit. They really want that ongoing engagement and ongoing branding. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but the ongoing throughout-the-year rather than just one night recognition is really powerful with them. So consider that when you’re creating the recognition opportunities on your sponsorship menu.

You know, why don’t you just ask your corporate sponsors if they might like this approach? Right now. Pull up your email and ask your top five sponsors: “We’re thinking about going to a once a year event sponsorship request where we would outline all the opportunities for the year and just meet with you one time. What do you think about that?” I guarantee you you are going to get two or three responses right away that say “Oh, that sounds incredible. I have so many meetings I have to do. We love you guys, but if we could streamline things that would be wonderful.” Guess what? That’s a great way to show some #donorlove. It really shows that you care about what your donors think and you’re trying to make their lives easier. That makes this a true win-win.

Check out our free resource — a Sponsorship Menu Template. It’s a pretty simple item, but it gives you a sense of how to get started and maybe streamline your efforts to create one of your own!


Donor Relations Guru: A Treasure Trove of Event Collateral Samples

We don’t all have access to a high level graphic designer who can guide our choices in event collateral. Yet we all know that an eye for vibrant colors and thoughtful layout can make a difference in engaging donors and sponsors. But there are so many items to consider! Donor relations collateral can include your program branding, signage, impact reports, event photo books, campaign case statements, and more. We all want to make the boring look more interesting, but how?

Lynne Wester, the Donor Relations Guru, and her team just completed their annual Event Collateral Swap. 

They’ve amassed an amazing collection of nearly 1,200 pages of samples from nonprofits in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. They hope you’ll use these FREE samples for benchmarking and to inspire new ideas for your organization’s events. Including Invitations and Save-the-Dates, Programs and Menus, Email Communications, Sponsorship Samples, Signage, Photos and Decor, Videos and Websites, and Miscellaneous ideas. You’ll find page after page to get the creative thoughts of you and your team flowing. The event collateral files are downloadable and have comments giving specific details on the work shown.

So, check out this treasure trove today …


Evaluation Sheet for New Fundraising Ideas [free download]

Do you have more ideas than you know what to do with?

Or does your board of directors have more ideas for you than you can possibly act on? Are they all for new fundraising events? (don’t get me started on this … that’s another post)

How do you evaluate fundraising ideas and decide which ones to pursue?

My friends Alice Ferris and Jim Anderson at GoalBusters Consulting have simplified this process with their great “Evaluation Sheet for New Fundraising Ideas.” This tool lets you evaluate new fundraising ideas along the following criteria:

  • Potential revenue
  • Effort
  • Likely success
  • Uniqueness
  • Mission match (my favorite one)

You end up with a simple score for each idea and can quickly see which idea makes the most sense to pursue.

My bonus tip is to score your current fundraising ideas at the same time. This works really well if you have a committee that is change averse … once they see the numbers they are typically more open to a discussion.

Give it a download today and put it to work in your shop.

Download It Here

How to Raise More Money at Your Fundraising Event

Would like to raise $5,050 more at your organization’s next event?

Are you tired of running all over town picking up donated gift cards for your silent auction which don’t even sell for face value?

Then try a wishboard at your next event and raise more money with less effort.

So, what’s a wishboard?

A wishboard is a stand alone donation board. It consists of 100 spaces where event attendees can make a donation to the organization in any amount from $1 to $100. Once a board is filled the organization has raised $5,050 in contributions.

Typically, wishboard supporters will also support other event fundraising opportunities (e.g. silent and live auction). The wishboard amounts are small. Because of this, wishboard support is often given in addition to other contributions.

Wishboards are an easy way to get more revenue from your event with minimal effort from staff and volunteers.

Here’s a sample of what one looks like …

How does it work?

Adding a wishboard to your next event is quite simple. Here are the steps …

1) Select a specific project or program for which to fundraise (this works far better than unrestricted operating support as it’s something your organization is “wishing for” but does not currently have the funds to purchase);

2) Have a wishboard designed (we can help with this);

3) Decide how the board will be displayed/featured;

4) Assign staff or volunteers to the wishboard at the event and make sure they are trained on what to say (“Would you like to sponsor a few spots on our wishboard? It’s funding ______________.”);

5) Make the purchase process as seamless as possible (Are you using names or bidder numbers? Can they pay instantly via credit card?);

6) Capture contact information so you can follow up after the event to say thank you and keep in touch with them.

How do I make it happen?

You now know everything you need to know in order to add a wishboard to your next event.

Your designer and printer can easily create a wishboard for you.

But to make it even easier, we offer custom wishboards shipped to your door in 3 weeks for just $150 plus tax. If you fill the board that’s $4,900 for your organization after the expense of the board.

5 Steps to Smarter Fundraising

5 Steps to Smarter Fundraising

Are you confused about where to start with fundraising? Are you overwhelmed with all of the options out there? Are you ready to focus and see better results?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use every possible fundraising technique. In fact, you will do better if you don’t. But where should you focus your effort?

Download this FREE GUIDE by @fundraiserchad: “Five Steps to Smarter Fundraising” for the answer.

Auction Item Wishlist Template

Do you ask your board or event committee to bring in silent auction items but nothing happens? Is it like pulling teeth to get them to even round up gift cards from their favorite stores? You need to paint a picture for them and tell them what you actually want. Create some ideal auction packages and pass out the list. Then they can say “Oh yeah, I know the owner of that store. I can probably get that.” Otherwise they might not think of it.

What’s the tool here?  An auction item wishlist template.  Give @fundraiserchad‘s free template a download, tweak it for your organization, and make your event committees more productive!

Guide to the Best Charity Auction Items

Guide to the Best Charity Auction Items

Here’s a another great FREE resource for you.  Every year pro auctioneer and charity auction expert Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions puts out a guide to the best auction items that she saw the previous year. 

She just released her 2019 list and it is chock full of great ideas for your next auction.  Sure, the standard stuff is in there (wine, trips, etc.) but there are always a few innovative items that can inspire you to create something truly unique for your next auction.