Hate Networking? Try These Fun, Provoking Questions

Hate Networking? Try These Fun, Provoking Questions

Networking events…most fundraisers either love them or hate them.

We’ve all heard the basic tips, like don’t try to break into a big group and to seek out the loners off to the side. But then, what do we ask about? We ask about work! (It’s what everybody just finished doing, after all). But, even if you love your job, you probably don’t want to talk about work at this point in the day.

So what should you talk about? In a bit, I’ll share two great networking questions that I use a lot, and will point your conversations in the right direction.

But first, let’s take a step back. What’s our goal at these events? It’s not to get donations. It’s not to talk about business. Our goal, really, is to build connections with people. To find common ground and start a new relationships that we can deepen later. Maybe it’ll lead to donations or other connections down the line, but that’s not our primary goal at the event.

So if it (work) is not our primary goal, why are we talking about it?! Instead, let’s talk about HUMAN things – interests or hobbies that allow us to build common ground. Our favorite sports teams. Our kids and families. The good stuff!

To start these kinds of conversations, my favorite question is: “What do you like to do when you’re not at work or events like this?” Bingo – instantly they start talking about their hobbies or their family or something important to them. Then you can find common ground and have a conversation about that.

My second favorite question, if it’s somebody a little more fun or we just have some good initial conversation, is “What are you nerding out to these days?” The word “nerd” itself kind of creates a chuckle, and fun. And then they just get into what they’re interested in.

So those are my questions. Use those, or come up with your own. There’s lots of great lists of other networking questions online, but the key is not not talk about work at networking events. Talk about interests. Talk about stuff that’s fun. You’ll be memorable and you’ll build stronger connections.

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 …

GO TO THE SAMPLES

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

the best items seen in 2018

Here’s a great annual 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 2018 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.  Give it a download today.

The 6 Best Charity Live Auction Money Makers

The 6 Best Charity Live Auction Money Makers

Tim Keller,  of the H.K. Keller Fundraising Auction Team, joins @fundraiserchad to share the 6 best live auction money makers… 

#1 Unique Experiences

The first category is experiences that are unique to the organization. We work with a theater that’s able to sell a trip to New York to be there for the audition.  The theater fans, they love it, and spend big money to be able to sit there with the producer. That’s a unique experience that the organization is able to provide. Unique experiences are the number one seller in a live auction.

#2 Food & Wine

Second is food and wine. Right now, food and wine is very, very big. That could include trips and experiences. We have found that providing a trip for groups of people, for two, three or four couples have been big sellers with food and wine experiences.

#3 Travel

The third is travel. People love to buy experiences, so when we can create a travel experience for them, something that’s a little unique, a little different than just something they can buy, it sells for big money.

#4 Entertainment & Sports

The fourth item is entertainment and sports. Anytime we can get people backstage, behind the scenes, into the locker room, they are willing to pay big money for that.

#5 Pampering

The fifth item is pampering. This could include shopping sprees, spa trips, anything that people can do to relax and have fun together.  Again, we’re back to experiences.

#6 Stuff

Sixth and lowest on the list is stuff.  The people coming to your events already have all the stuff they need. They don’t need your stuff.

One of the things that we do to help organizations find the right things for their auction is to conduct a brainstorming session, and it starts with this question, “Who do you know that knows someone?.” Because there’s people within your board, people within your team that have connections to amazing things, not just all over the country, but all over the world.  And all it takes is a simple ask and you have a fantastic auction item.

Don’t Sweat Your Stewardship Events, Think Simple & Unique

Don’t Sweat Your Stewardship Events, Think Simple & Unique

Today’s focus is on donor receptions.  You need to say thank you to your donors.  And one of the best ways to do that is to invite them to something, like for a tour or to an event.

But a lot of fundraisers get too complicated with this.  My advice is to go simple.  Something like bagels in the morning in your conference room with the executive director is perfect.  It’s that simple invitation to come out your facility hear an update and be appreciated that donors are after — they don’t need a fancy reception with a big dinner.  A lot of them would rather have you spend those dollars on the mission that them.  So think simple and mission-based.

What’s my favorite way my favorite way to do a donor reception?  My favorite way is to invite your donors to your parking lot on a summer Friday afternoon for a hot dog or a burger or some barbecue. You put your executive director in an apron and a chef’s hat, have them flip burgers and just talk to the donors and say thank you as they come through the line.   It’s cheap and easy.  You throw your grill in your truck and you pick up some burgers and rolls over lunch.  It’s easy but it’s greatly appreciated and it’s different.  Everything is better in fundraising if it’s different.  If you can stand out from the crowd, it’s so much better.  So take that into consideration fundraisers, how can you be different and simple with your donor receptions?