I always recommend that nonprofits do a full Fund-A-Need at their event. It’s the absolute best way to raise the most money in the least amount of time. However, a full Fund-A-Need can take some time. More time than some nonprofits want to allocate to it.
A full Fund-A-Need with between six and eight giving levels, in a full room of motivated donors can take up to 25 minutes to complete. But, that 25 minutes can potentially generate up to $500k (depending on the size of the room, giving capacity of the donors, nonprofit engagement, etc).
It really is worth your time.
What happens though, if your nonprofit has already front-loaded your fundraising? If you’ve already approached your major donors individually and they’ve made large donations or are sponsoring the event in some capacity?
In cases like this, while I still recommend a full Fund-A-Need, you can make the choice to take a faster approach.
Let’s talk about how you can do a Fund-A-Need in ten minutes or less?
Technology is hands-down the fastest way to run a Fund-A-Need. You can be done with the entire Fund-A-Need in three minutes.
The main downside to this approach is that when people pull out their phone or tablet at an event, there’s really no way to know what they are doing. Sure, they say they’re making a donation, but how do you know they aren’t checking their email or texting their friends?
Bidding technology also undercuts the communal nature of the Fund-A-Need. What’s designed as a communal moment of giving to a shared cause becomes a moment of solitary screen time.
You also won’t get big gifts in a text-to-give situation. People give money to people, not to screens. I’ve written before about the invisible ingredients of a Fund-A-Need, having a charity auctioneer who knows how to manipulate those ingredients will always make your nonprofit more money.
A Three-Level Fund-A-Need
Restrict your Fund-A-Need to just three giving levels. Set your levels at $1,000, $500, and $5, or something similar.
This approach has the benefit of momentum, energy, and participation. You’ll get a ton of participation because the giving levels during this type of Fund-A-Need tend to be lower, but you won’t make as much money. However, if all your major donors have already made a donation, then it really doesn’t matter.
This approach takes about ten minutes, but I don’t recommend it unless all your major donors have already donated at a high level.
A Paddle Pick Up
This is another modified Fund-A-Need that is super speedy. Set five giving levels for a larger range of giving opportunities. You’ll need volunteers to go around the room with boxes, clearly labelled with each giving level.
Your auctioneer announces a giving level and then pauses so that everyone who wants to give at that level can put their paddle in the air. The room cheers and says thank you, then those people drop their paddles into the corresponding bin.
What I love about this approach is that it’s very fast, but it does kill the energy and participation levels. No one really feels appreciated. There’s also not as much pressure to give because things are moving so fast.
This Fund-A-Need can be done in about eight minutes.
This is a Fund-A-Need that I created for a client of mine who had a very specific request. They wanted to do a Fund-A-Need that would feel equal for every donor at every level. I call this method the Centerpiece Fund-A-Need.
For this one, get a large bucket or container that you can fill with dirt, sand, gravel, glass pebbles, etc. Then collect a bunch of small dowels or sticks and top them with an image that connects to your nonprofit. On this image there should be space for your donors to write their names and donation amounts.
When you do the Fund-A-Need you only make one ask. You ask everyone to write their donation on their mini-paddle and come up and plant their paddle in the container.
The great thing about this approach is that you can do it at any point in the evening. You can even ask multiple times. The display of mini-paddles gives the room a visual manifestation of their giving. There are no set levels with this approach which also opens it up to everyone, no matter their giving capacity. It’s very low pressure and allows everyone to feel good about participating.
A faster Fund-A-Need is possible, but your nonprofit will have to make a trade off. You’ll very likely raise less money than you would with a full Fund-A-Need. If you are looking to save time on your next Fund-A-Need, consider approaching all of your major donors ahead of the event and securing their donations ahead of time to mitigate the drop in Fund-A-Need donations.