Best Practice vs. Common Practice
Best practices are best practices – period and there are good reasons to use them. Though not commonly practiced, when implemented into your fundraising revenue enhancers, best practices will net you more money with less effort, while elevating your guests’ experience. Are you using them in your fundraising endeavors? Below are the common sins we witness and how best to remedy them.
Error: Putting Baby in the Corner
Strategically place all revenue streams front and center. Refrain from lining the perimeter of the walls with them. Do not place them in separate rooms from each other or in dark corners. Intentionally place them near popular destinations, like the bar or food tables – where we know your guests are headed. Design your layout so guests have no choice but to interact with revenue enhancers and games. Make them impossible to avoid!
Error: Lack of Adequate Signage
People won’t buy if they don’t know what’s for sale, what the prize is or what it costs to enter. Nor will they buy if they don’t know where to. Use large aerial signage everywhere to lead your donors to the sale. Answer everything they’ll want to know so they’re ready to make an in-the-moment purchase – benefiting YOUR bottom line!
Error: Lack of and/or Ineffective Sales People
Sales people make or break the effectiveness and success of any revenue stream. Choose the right people for the task. Your ideal salesperson will be outgoing, gregarious, friendly, ready to approach anyone and everyone, dressed to kill and EASILY IDENTIFIABLE in the crowd. Prior sales experience is a huge bonus!
Provide enough salespeople for your guest count – we typically recommend at least 1:75 guests. Make them stand out visually in the crowd – one of the main pain points we hear is that donors are unable to identify who the salespeople are or where they are in the room. Avoid this, as it decreases sales significantly! There are many ways to make them stand out – place big colorful balloons on them or their clipboards, give them big top hats to wear or flashing flair – anything that’ll help folks pick them out of the crowd. Keep in mind, whatever their “flair” is, it needs to be taller than the crowd or it won’t be visible from afar.
Finally, it may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your salespeople know what they’re selling, what the prize is or other salient details about the revenue stream they’re promoting.
Error: No Revenue Streams Offered
Again, no-brainer, right? But remember, you’re fundraising! Provide ample opportunity for folks to spend money, at varying price points and interest levels. Learn more about the Big Five types of spenders at fundraising events and provide enough points of entry to cater to each of them. Philanthropists are going to be moved by great storytelling and your special appeal. Get competitive bidders involved with a live auction or challenge match. Not sure what that is? Reach out! Do you have a lot of shoppers in your crowd? Set up your silent auction like a retail display. Appeal to the gamblers in the room with a wide variety of games of chance. And to get your volunteers and staff involved, include revenue streams with lesser price points for inclusivity.
Error: Failure to Observe State Laws
We’re all here to maximize earnings. But do so lawfully, or it may cost you – both financially (through fines) and reputationally. Plus, if you run afoul of the law, you may not be able to obtain legal licensure in the future – it’s simply not worth the risk! There are very specific state and local laws regarding games of chance, raffles, and liquor sales – this includes wine. If in question, consult with your legal counsel.
Error: Lackluster Prizes that don’t Appeal to your Demographic
Don’t dissuade guests from participating by offering lame prizes that aren’t appropriate for the price point you’re charging. For example, if you’re selling a $100 Golden Ticket, offer something amazing – like the choice of one of the live auction packages. Are you selling a $50 raffle ticket? Offer something moderately valued – a weekend away paired with a lovely dinner plus a fabulous show. Did you get an iPad donation? A $25 raffle ticket would be appropriate for that price point. It’s not likely your guests will fork over $100 for a chance to win an iPad.
Ditch garage sale prizes, most anything used or re-gifted and price points under $25 for most offerings altogether as this psychologically sets your donors up to hunt for a deal. Deals are not for fundraisers. Sweat your prize offerings and be certain to offer prizes your donors want, have expressed interest in or have previously bid high on. And get ready for your next event by polling your donors!
Error: Too Many Revenue Streams
While planning fundraising events, keep in mind:
Revenue Streams = Appetizer
Live Program = Main Course
Entertainment = Dessert
Offering too many games, raffles and other revenue enhancers before the live program leads to donor fatigue – where guests become tuckered out prior to the live event because they’ve been asked to give too much during the cocktail hour. Think of the cocktail hour as the appetizer to the main course (live auction + special appeal). The special appeal and live auction typically earn 70-80% of the night’s revenue, so don’t exhaust your poor donors before they even sit down for the main event!
Error: Too Many Competing Price Points
Using the same price point repeatedly targets the same donor (and budget) over and over – a recipe for the aforementioned donor fatigue. It is also not an inclusive model from which to fundraise from. If you offer two revenue streams at a $100 price point, or two revenue streams at a $25 price point, for example, sales decrease for BOTH as they’ll now compete with each other. Streamline your offerings and thereby your back end registration processes by facilitating one revenue stream per price point – which will help you involve the highest number of people and keep your offerings more inclusive while earning top dollar and easing check-out burdens.
Error: Poor Quality or NO Professional Sound in Revenue Areas
“What did they say?” Chances are you’ve heard this or perhaps even said it yourself during the cocktail hour of an event. Unfortunately, this one is very, VERY common. Hire the best AV company for fundraising as an investment in sound pays you back in more money earned and happier donors (this IS the goal!). Before the doors open, test the sound system – both from the stage and from the revenue stream areas – basically anywhere donors will be. Accept nothing less than crystal clear sound. Audible and clear announcements are imperative for two reasons – they beef up sales and they improve your guests’ overall experience.
Error: Poor Timing
Your run-of-show – the sequence of events that occur on event night – needs to be intentionally crafted to best support the specific activities you’re offering, items you’re selling and big picture revenue strategy. This includes (but is not limited to) check-in, the cocktail hour (90 minutes max!), dinner, live program, etc. We can help you maximize giving with a carefully considered run-of-show. We can also help you choose the best date and time for your event. Reach out!
Error: Dim Lights and No Color
LET THERE BE LIGHT! Please, this isn’t the place for mood lighting or no lighting at all. Donors are drawn to it, after all. Light up your revenue stream areas and watch your sales soar! Use color intentionally to set the mood and create your intended vibe. Ditch those pesky black table cloths that suck the life from your sale, look drab and do not display your wares well in favor of COLOR everywhere. Infuse more visual life into all sales areas!
Error: Failure to Record ALL Sales on Bid Numbers
Avoid using sister tickets for raffles or drawings. This practice requires too much of your donors – they’re forced to work to keep track of their tickets and which number corresponds to what. That’s not fun or relaxing for them. Furthermore, it adds to program length – NEVER a good thing – as your auctioneer has to read all those crazy long numbers from the stage. BOR-ing! Instead, assign all donors a bid number and bill ALL charges – those for live auction items, appeal gifts and revenue streams – on the donor’s bid number. Forget the idea of sister tickets, cash or any other form of payment at fundraisers to avoid clogging up checkout and confusing your guests. Keep it simple. Streamlining every possible detail is good for both you and your guests – and that, friends, is the ultimate goal!
Let us help you exceed your fundraising goals. Contact us today. Let’s make some magic together!