Prepare your donors to give large donations at your next fundraising event by communicating your cause and what to expect ahead of time.
Donors are unlikely to drop incredible amounts of money on a whim. If you want donations of $20,000, $50,000, or even higher, you need to prepare them to give. This process starts way ahead of your fundraising event so your donors and their guests have time to think about the impact their donation will have.
Use Your Elevator Pitch to Allow Donors to Connect Emotionally to Your Cause
Prepare your donors emotionally to give by making sure it is clear why you're all here in the first place. The best way to do this is to have an elevator pitch so you can sum up in 30 seconds why your you're raising money. You want your donors to understand what you do not only so they want to give to your cause, but so they can tell the guests they bring to your event why you are raising money.
Let's say you're raising money to plant baby trees in the Sahara. Your elevator pitch can be as simple as "We're going to repopulate the Sahara by planting baby trees." An elevator pitch tells donors who you're helping and how you're doing it. Use metrics to tell the story. If you have a goal to plant 1,000 trees, then tell them that. When folks know how you will use the money they give, they can become emotionally invested in your cause. On top of making money at your fundraiser, you will see donors and their guests becoming more invested and involved in your non-profit in the long term.
Let's look at another example. Say you're an organization that helps kids in transitionary care. They've just been plucked from their homes, and they have nothing, so you help them by buying backpacks for kids. You could tell your guests, "Hey, we buy backpacks for kids. Our event is raising money so we can give each kid that goes into foster care a backpack, so they have clothes of their own." Keep communicating why you're raising money.
Ronald McDonald House does this well; they send a message to all the event attendees, both the donors and their guests, to tell them a little bit about the non-profit and why they raise money. We heard this from a couple that attended one of the events as a guest, and they said that by the time the event rolled around, they were excited to be a part of the fundraising event. They ended up spending $10,000 on an auction item at the event, and they joined the committee the following year. Always keep your mission in front of your donors and guests so they understand the impact their donations will make. Here are some ideas you can use to do this:
Let People Know What to Expect When They Walk in the Door
It is important to create excitement around what will be happening at the event too. Talk about the entertainment that will be performing at the event. Tell your guests if you have booked a popular local band or a speed magician. We see non-profits who advertise mystery hosts, entertainment, or even mystery prizes. People can't get excited about something unless they know about it. If you have booked someone exciting, put the word out and get people interested. Start letting people know the details of the event from the start and build up to a crescendo as you get closer to the event date
This is even more important for the live auction, silent auction, and golden ticket prizes. Let's say that you have prizes like a Lisbon trip or a Tuscan villa trip; most people don't make on-the-spot decisions about a vacation. They need to take time and think about which destinations they would be interested in and speak to their partner or travel buddy. We hear people all the time at events saying, "I wish I knew this trip was going to be here; I just booked my trip to that destination last week."
Letting people know what they can bid on in advance gives them time to organize what they will bid on and how much they are willing to bid. We saw one guy who donated his private jet for a trip to a California winery and ended up organizing a group of 8 to pool together and bid on the trip. They ended up paying $60,000 for the trip because they had time to make arrangements and get their consortium together.
If you're using mobile bidding software, allow people to view the items ahead of the event. You could even let them bid ahead of the event or buy their golden ticket raffle tickets before the event.
Allowing Time for Donors to Think About the Impact of Their Donation
The key to getting large donations from donors is allowing them to see the impact of their donation and giving them time to consider. Let's say you're sending kids to camp, and it costs $1,000 to send 1 kid to camp. Giving your donors that information helps them to equate the money they raise with the number of kids who get to go to camp.
We saw a great example of this with an organization that was building a NICU, and they asked donors how many preemie warmers or other pieces of equipment they wanted to fund. So, the preemie warmers were about $15,000 each and they had donors giving $75,000 because they had time to think about how much they wanted to give, and they could see what their donation would fund. People don’t make donations of $75,000 on a whim - they need time to think about it and know where their money is going.
Talk to the people who are invested in your cause, your big donors, and the businesses you partner with before the event. These people are important to your non-profit, so call them personally and talk to them about what you were doing in easy-to-understand terms. Tell them how much it costs to plant a tree or send a kid to camp and ask them how many they want to sponsor. Give them time to think about how much they want to give ahead of the event.
You can even ask them to get involved in driving the Fund-a-Need by kicking things off with a large donation. These donors believe in what you do, and they want to raise money. They're happy to give more money and drive others to give more too. We once worked with a small non-profit who was running its first event and he met its biggest donor and asked her to start off the Need Drive. She started the bidding at $1,000 and drove the bidding process because whenever things slowed down, she'd speak up and say she was giving another $1,000 and ask who else wanted to join her.
Start Preparing Your Donors As Soon As You Send Out Invites
Preparing your donors to give starts long before the fundraising event. Don't wait until 3 weeks beforehand; start getting your event attendees excited and emotionally invested from the very start.
Jason and Trevor give more examples of ways you can prepare your donors to give in Episode 86 of our webinar for non-profits.
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At HGA, we're dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations Raise More Money through coaching, auction items, and auction software.