For those unfamiliar, a Fund-A-Need (also called a special appeal or paddle raise) is the point in the evening when your charity auctioneer gets up on stage and asks your guests to make a donation to your cause, without receiving anything in return.
Fund-A-Needs are amazing for several reasons, but the most important is that they cost your nonprofit very little in terms of money and manpower. Your nonprofit doesn’t put any time into sourcing auction items and experiences. There are no bid sheets to process. Your charity auctioneer simply gets up on stage and makes the case for your guests to give to your nonprofit because it is a worthy cause that they have an emotional connection to.
Fund-A-Needs are basically free money.
And we all love free.
If your nonprofit hasn’t made Fund-A-Needs a part of your major events, why the heck not? Talk to your charity auctioneer about including a Fund-A-Need as part of your next event.
If your nonprofit already does a Fund-A-Need, here are two ways you can increase your Fund-A-Need revenue:
- Get everyone in the room to give, even the ones that normally don’t.
- Get everyone to increase their gifts.
Getting everyone in the room to give relies heavily on the charity auctioneer’s ability to pull on the emotional connection between the donors and the nonprofit and move people to give.
Work with your auctioneer to tell stories that play to people’s emotions and their connection to your nonprofit. Have your auctioneer ask everyone to dig a little deeper than they normally would, even if deeper means $10.
Make your final giving level “Donor’s Choice” as a way to encourage every person in attendance to make a donation even if it falls below what is typically your lowest giving level.
Consider changing up the guest list after a couple of years. If the same guests do not make a gift during the Fund-A-Need year after year, stop inviting them to your event. Use that invitation for someone more able to give.
Getting everyone to increase their gifts is a bit trickier, but ultimately can pay off in a big way.
Before your next Fund-A-Need, ask one of your top donors to increase their gift at the highest giving level of the Fund-A-Need. Treat this ask as you would any other solicitation. It shouldn’t come out of nowhere and it should be made in person.
Nonprofits will often approach a major donor, who would have made a donation at the event anyway, about increasing their donation prior to the event taking place. These donors are referred to as donor plants.
This practice is an open secret in the fundraising world, and there’s no shame in taking advantage of it to boost your fundraising revenue.
Fund-A-Needs run on enthusiasm. A successful charity auctioneer takes the emotional connection that your team has built between your donors and your nonprofit and uses it to foster an atmosphere of motivated giving. Starting on a high with a large donation from a generous supporter gets the Fund-A-Need started on the right foot. Using a donor plant to achieve this effect only makes sense.
As your auctioneer proceeds down through the giving levels, this increased generosity is going to trickle down. Your other guests are going to feel inspired to increase their gifts as well, and you will raise more money.
Have your charity auctioneer encourage people at every level to dig a little deeper than they normally would, calling attention to the increased donation of your top donor and the amazing energy in the room.
Including a Fund-A-Need as part of your fundraising event is the best way to encourage those who cannot, or do not wish to, participate in the traditional auction parts of the evening to make a straight donation to your cause. Once you’ve got the basics of a great Fund-A-Need down, work on improving your revenue by encouraging everyone to give, even if it’s only a few dollars, and by working with a major donor to increase the opening donation of the appeal.
Looking for more information on Fund-A-Need Auctions? Download my free ebook: 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Fund-A-Need Ever.