One of the things that never fails to surprise me at least a little bit is when someone comes up to me at a fundraising event where I have stood on the stage in front of them and asked for money and thanks me for how I handled the appeal.
I mean who would ever think that people would thank you for asking them for money? But when you stop to think it through it actually makes sense.
So many people have spent long evenings at fundraising events, often poorly run. They have experience. (Be sure and look at our videos and materials on how to do a great fundraising event.) Even at well-produced events, it’s common for the person who does the appeal, or “makes the ask”, to just be confusing and vague.
Most often it’s because the person doing the presentation is uncomfortable and not sure how to go about it, then they stumble along and everyone in the room gets uncomfortable. It really does not lead to great results!
So here are a few things to remember when it’s time to do the appeal at a fundraising event.
First of all just come to terms with the fact that a fundraising event has one actual purpose, to raise money. Everyone there knows that the purpose of the event is to raise money (unless you didn’t really do your planning and promotion right). So make it easy for them to just give money and maybe they will actually appreciate it! Here is what I like to do:
If everyone in the room knows the answers to those three questions they are pretty much ready to write a check.
Remember you have to make sure they know why they are going to give. We talk about this all of the time on DonorFarm because it’s foundational to pretty much everything else related to nurturing donor relationships. Here are the three main things everyone has to understand:
- What is the problem you are working to address?
- What are you doing to address it effectively?
- How is my giving tonight going to help you do it better, faster, or more of it?
- If everyone in the room knows the answers to those three questions they are pretty much ready to write a check.
Have some mechanism for them to make a donation. I like to use a simple giving card. It has a place for their contact info, a two sentence summary of what’s going to be done with their donation, and some suggested giving amounts so they know the ballpark for the size of their donation. It should have a way to give by credit card, maybe a way to say they can get their employer to match their donation or a way to let you know they want to give a gift of appreciated stock or something else that requires further interaction.
Keep it simple and walk them through it verbally. It’s not that they can’t figure it out, but just simply and smoothly walking them through the card gives them time to process the idea of making a good donation and it will increase the amount given. Resist the temptation to just say “Here is a giving card, fill it out and turn it in whenever you like.” That’s easier, but you won’t raise much money.
Make sure they know what to do with the card at the end of the evening. We almost never suggest they take it home and think about it. It’s far better the ask them to turn it in before they leave. And not just drop it in a basket or something, but have them hand it to one of the people who work for the organization, or to you, the person who did the appeal. That way they have confidence that you acknowledge their donation and are taking personal care of it.