I love doing Fund-A-Needs, it’s one of my favorite aspects of my job. I want to share the feeling I get during a fantastic Fund-A-Need with you by giving you the advice you need to make your next Fund-A-Need a success.
So, without further ado: How can you create this feeling at your next Fund-A-Need?
The right people must be in the room. This means people with a connection to your nonprofit and with the capacity to care and the capacity to give. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen fundraiser invitations posted on the wall at Starbucks. You can’t just invite people randomly and expect them to donate. Ticket sales are not a revenue stream, they are a break-even stream. You need to invite the right people.
The invitations and programs must be mission-focused. Everything about the evening should link back to your nonprofit in an obvious way. This often means saying no to some of the people who want to speak at your event. A good Fund-A-Need, a successful Fund-A-Need relies on everything being as mission-focused as possible.
Your fundraisers focus on fundraising. That’s all they focus on and they are good at it. They make sure fundraising comes first, every single time. Ahead of dessert, ahead of speeches, ahead of honorees. I know you have attended an event where they put speeches before the Fund-A-Need. Good fundraisers do not put speeches first. Fundraise first, speak later.
Your fundraisers works with your speaker before the event. The Fund-A-Need speech or video has to make an emotional connection with your guests, it needs to move them to dig deeper and give to your organization. This aspect of the event should not be left to chance. Successful Fund-A-Needs have a fundraiser who carefully selects the speaker, works with them to write the speech, and rehearses with them before the event. Many nonprofits don’t even look at this speech until the day of. Don’t be like those nonprofits.
You have a pre-committed gift at the highest Fund-A-Need level. Having a pre-committed gift helps the event get off to a strong start. This gift is arranged before the event, with a donor who would have given to your nonprofit anyway. This ask is always done in person.
Committee and board members are 100% behind the fundraising mission. They support the development staff completely. The believe in the event and are ready to make donations at the event themselves. Members of the leadership team should always set an example of giving. Board members should participate at the event because many people don’t understand that board members have a yearly gift commitment and so they are seldom seen donating. They should be seen donating. It does not need to be much, but it does need to be something. This is all about social queues and appearances.
The development staff communicates consistently with donors throughout the year. This really can’t be overstated enough, as anyone who reads my posts regularly knows. Show appreciation for your donors all year long and they are more likely to show up for you during the Fund-A-Need.
The Fund-A-Need is facilitated by someone who knows how to fundraise. This doesn’t need to be a professional charity auctioneer, though if you are interested, I am available. But this does need to be someone who knows how to fundraise. Don’t accept the donated services of the cattle auctioneer down the street. That’s a different skill set. You need someone who knows how to fundraise.
The success of the Fund-A-Need relies on your event being as mission-focused as possible. Take every opportunity to tie things back to your nonprofit and the work you do in the community. And make sure you have the right people involved in planning and running the event. Your board and committee members should understand their responsibilities. The Fund-A-Need must be facilitated by someone who knows how to fundraise effectively. Put in the work and get the right people involved, and your Fund-A-Need will be a success.