The Accidental Fundraiser

Special Events-Under Promise and Over Deliver

The opening of the new gambling casino in St. Louis last week crapped out. My husband and I weren’t invited, but many of my friends who are married to big shots were. My husband would rather be invited to an autopsy than the opening of a gambling casino. (Being a physician, this is also more likely). Anyway, the invitation promised big things. The uber expensive invite indicated that there would be visible grandeur and perhaps fireworks.
Just getting to the black tie event was a problem. No one thought to have spent time or money on signage. Once you arrived, getting a drink was damned near impossible. And food? Well, one of my friends found the sushi table and planted herself there. Another friend said that she couldn’t even see the food. Guests were given coupons to shop at the stores, but they weren’t open.
But the real talk of the town is that with all the hype, they dragged the grumpy, hungry and still sober guest outside in the cold to witness the magnificent lighting of of the building named Luminarire and it didn’t work. A few bulbs flickered, but then nothing.
The valet parking took one of my friends an hour. Another friend’s husband stayed to gamble. She took the car and left. He won $27. When he asked the valet to get him a cab, no one knew how to do it. He finally got one using his cell phone. The cab was only $25. At least he was working in the black! The next day, he realized he had forgotten his driver’s license which he had left as collateral for chips or some such thing. The phone number for the casino was unlisted. The mailbox the the PR firm was filled. The meeting planner is no doubt in rehab.
One of my clients is having the mayors from a number of municipalities in for a meeting in two weeks. The trick to events is to under-promise and over deliver. I’ve suggested to indicate that there will be sandwiches, then have goody bags. Their mission is healthy living. Fill reusable bags donated from a local grocery store with a pedometer, snacks etc. If you tell them, as Luminarie did, to expect the event of the century, and then fail, you will wind up in the blog of someone who didn’t even get an invite!
Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, glad to be on the B list


December 22, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

18: Making your Web site a destination

In this episode, Carol talks about how your organization can become a content provider, and uses the example of this site that gives all sorts of information about Hepatitis B. This shows how an organization can become an online  destination and a source of useful and important content, above and beyond a mere brochure of the company’s operations. Download the podcast here (5:45). 

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Podcasts | Leave a comment

17: What is an email auto-responder?

In this episode, David explains the importance of email lists and autoresponders, and how they can help organizations connect with their audiences and supply important kinds of content. Download the podcast here (5:45). 

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Podcasts | Leave a comment

16: Why non-profits need Websites

In this episode, Carol talks about why every non-profit organization needs a Website, and cites some very compelling statistics about the importance of courting online donors. Download the podcast here (5:45). 

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Podcasts | Leave a comment

15: Using professional speaking skills

In this episode, Carol talks about how brushing up on your professional speaking skills can help motivate donors and make them feel more connected to a particular non profit’s cause.Download the podcast here (5:00). 

December 21, 2007 Posted by | Podcasts | Leave a comment

Amuse Em Use Em or Lose Em, The Board and Fundraising

I recently did a board retreat with a dynamic foundation board. The development director was tearing her hair out trying to get trustees to show up. The folks who did show were amazing. They were CEO’s, dedicated community volunteers, people of wealth and affluence and influence. I was wowed. The “A Team was in the building. The problem: They were being asked to work on a golf tournament. Period. Not only that, if you deducted staff time, they were making  about $11.00. It was a classic example of a race horse being asked to pull a beer truck. The power balance to the mission was off kilter.

What would get the whole team together? A massive goal that matched the talent pool. One of the members had just funded a building for a hospital that will bear his and his wife’s names. He alone could have written the check for the golf tournament gross amount and everyone else could have gone to jazzersize or watch reruns of the West Wing.

If they don’t get these folks excited, use their talents they will for sure lose these dynamos. The questions: Does your fundraising goal match your board? Too staggeringly high and they will feel overwhelmed. Too low and they will disengage.
You can bring this up with the board as a whole, or ask them individually. The questions are:
1. Is our fundraising goal going to meet our organization’s needs to drive our mission?
2l Do we have the right people in the room to achieve this?
3. Are we using you, our board member, effectively?

Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP, wanting to spread all this talent

December 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

14: How to throw a great party

David talks to Carol about his sister’s “Think Pink” party to benefit breast cancer research. The party involves her daughter’s friends and is designed to attract lots of kids and still raise plenty of money. Listen to the podcast now (2:30). 

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

13: How to do end of the year appeals

Carol talks to David about how to customize your end-of-year fundraising appeals, and how to make them more productive.Listen to the podcast now (4:20)

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

12: How to give the best tours of your facility

In this week, Carol talks to David about how one of her clients was able to customize her tour script and do a better job soliciting donations.Listen to the podcast now (4:35)

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

11: How to dine for dollars

This episode Carol and David talk about one way to solicit funds by taking your friends out to lunch and introducing them to the right people. Listen to the podcast now (4:10) 

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment