Jun 8, 2020

Setting Up the Year for Fundraising Success

Happy creative businesspeople brainstorming in office, placing sticky notes with ideas on glass

The following is a transcript of our Q&A conversation from Episode 8 of our Pivot Success Series.  You can view the full webinar, and other webinars in the series, on our Pivot Success page.

In this episode, we discuss setting up the fundraising year for success!

Can you describe what a sign-up party is?

Susannah: A sign-up party would be an instant buy item where people are able to go in and sign up for a certain activity. So what that might look like would be from a school perspective that might look like, you know hang out with second grade teacher and you set the max capacity to 15 individuals who can purchase that individual item and then they hang out and do a pizza party or whatever it is. It could also be a virtual thing. Some other examples of that I’ve seen from like a museum where you can join in and go on a tour of a certain exhibit, so it’s something that you are purchasing on an item to join into an activity.


Has anyone been able to hold a chance auction in person that would be tickets dropped in bowls to take a chance, I would like to see if there’s a way to do that virtually?

Patrick: I’ll double check. I mean there’s a few ideas that come top of mind. I think the one thing that can’t be replicated in that realm is like especially with the summer coming up, I know a lot of times people do like a golf ball drop. I think different things like that where “okay if you can’t get people together could you still have a golf ball drop and film it live” so I’ll take a look at the question to make sure I don’t misinterpret it and we can certainly follow up but I think there is definitely a lot of ways to get creative and do it and I think that is a nice thing with so many mediums today where you can live stream or bring people into it. It might be you know a little bit laborious on the organization because you might have to put in everybody’s thing and write their names as opposing to them writing their name on it. So I think it might be a little bit administrative burden to kind of facilitate it, but definitely a lot of different ways that can be done for sure.


What fundraising games or raffles have you seen work best virtually? 

Lisa: For us it’s certainly the kid’s lottery or kids’ raffle. So just the fact that the time it took for parents to or getting children to write on stubs of raffle tickets to be able to put them in, we were finding that people would only buy 20 or so tickets because by then they’re over writing names down and to move that online really meant that it was very easy for them to select hundreds at a time. I mean we saw families making $200 purchases of you know, we’ll have ten of those, five of those, fifteen of those, instead of just the 20 tickets. So that really exploded for us.

Susannah: I think the most popular one that we’re seeing right now is a 50/50 raffle. What that means is people buy into it, usually about $25 ticket. Could be less, could be more, and at the end of it you pick a random winner off of that and that winner receives 50% of the proceeds from that raffle. So, your organization gets 50% of what’s on that. It’s very easy, very low weight, that’s one. Another one is  wine polls are definitely still doable and you can sell wine through an instant item and you can do that live stream by pairing this person gets this bottle or you can do it very simply by just going down the list and assigning people to certain bottles. Those are two that are very popular right now. 

Patrick: It was fun to see, I know 2 episodes ago we had the Las Vegas cold nights and an NHL team foundation and they kind of did a player’s favorite things which was very similar to what Lisa’s team did with the room basket. So, I think the nice thing is it kind of allows items in packaging where you allow peoples personalities to come through or we saw an organization who probably forced all of their board members if we would give them the truth serum to do something similar and kind of bring people in and humanize it. So I think that’s one and the other is I think we have an example that we can put in the chat in just a second here of an organization and it’s a trend were seeing a lot where they’re having almost like a registration raffle as a way to encourage people to visit the site, to look at items, different things like this. We actually had a  client in Colorado where I was the random raffle winner and we returned the item back to him because they just looked at all the users in their system, picked one and his way of thanking people for participating auctioned off some things. If you have some items that “oh hey what do I do with it?” or different ways you want to try kind of like a clickbait for lack of a better phrase of enticing people. I think that’s a great example where I want to get you on the site because I know once you’re here you’re going to participate and you’ll be involved so I think even a participation, you know a trophy type thing where you’re just recognizing those who came similar to I think with the Google home example is a great one of kind of adding that in the fact that it generates some more excitement. I think kind of those creative kind of quirky kind of things seem to be thriving for sure.


Does anyone else struggle between with the fundraising or development office and the year-round fundraisers by the schools PTO or PTA? Are you hearing any feedback from you community where they are asked to donate from multiple organizations within the community?

Lisa: Yes that is a challenge for sure in our area that all of the schools in the area, all want to get donations from local businesses and so aside from the current challenge that we got, usually we have to jump on silent auction donations very early, so we are working for nine months of the year ahead of the silent auction collecting items because absolutely businesses do max out and they run out of charitable giving opportunities. So it is a big challenge, the one thing we’ve tried to do internally is not ask the same business to donate more than once to us a year so for example our community sponsorship where we invite business to become our annual sponsor. The slide where we had $600 for a gold sponsorship where you get a banner on our fence of our school etc. Various other benefits to it. If they’ve done that, we don’t then also ask them to donate for stuff that we might want to give out as a freebie for donating for Annual giving or silent auction or etc. Between us we’re in the school, we are very conscious that we don’t want to keep asking the same businesses for a donation more than once a year for ourselves because of all the schools asking for those things as well. 


If the data says donation campaigns are working. What are easy ways for us to do those things right now? 

Patrick: I think Susannah had mentioned it. I know in our platform you just hit a button that says create campaign and you kind of go. But I think the first thing I’d encourage is make sure to tell the biggest thing I think generates returns for people is to make sure to tell the impact story so your contribution of $25 is going to allow us to do X, Y and Z. So, I think making sure that its there. If you have examples of school for example, if the funds are going to scholarships or financial aid. If you can get someone who is benefited from those services to send in a video and putting that on there and then if you have a list of constituents and donors put any into the system so you can easily send them a text message as we kind of alluded to before of you know meet them where they are. So telling them the impact story in trying to tie that to a human element best as possible and then I think taking advantage of data you have at your disposal so you can easily spread the message through that. And then obviously leveraging social media tools and other things like that in making it very easy to see and almost making it impossible to miss are definitely some of the things that I recommend for sure. 


What are some live auction alternatives that fundraisers are trying and our folks having them in real time? 

Susannah: There are a lot of alternatives whether that is a virtual sign up party type of atmosphere or different types of items, physical items. Not so much sports games, not so much limited travel. That is the only few things to stay away from. We are able to do semi live auctions so the way that we would do it in this system is we would them as silent auction items and we would open up one item at a time and we could do it 5 minutes each item, we could do it 10 minutes each item or the most popular area right now is creating a separate category called ‘two premier items’ and having those only available for a specific time frame and doing extra communications around those items. It is possible to still do a live auction if you have an interactive platform like zoom or something where you can interact with people as well so definitely still happening.


What are other naming rights auctions you have seen?

Patrick: I mean animals come to show we have seen organizations who are in like environmental wildlife protection where they’re going to name a section of an arboretum or a ski hill or different things like that. As well as local institutions who may not be necessarily a wing but you know the Maureen entranceway or different things like that so I think its almost take a walk around your building and are there simple things and then we also have one who and I know as a family who participated in this of an organization then they were in the process of constructing a new building so decided hey what if maximizes the revenue we kind of had a quick walk-up and people made a contribution and we’d put their name so it’d be kind of more memorialized throughout time. So I think all sorts of creative things and I think my favorite creative one is they auctioned off the rights to be the emcee for their next in person event. And I know personally is someone who would love to be a hype guy on stage one day in life if things break out the right way, I know that is something that would be fun so I think also give something to look forward to and you just doing it in a light hearted and creative way and something that is authentic to the organization and their supporters.


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Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County