One of the first questions I’m asked if a group is conducting it’s first fund a need (also called an appeal, mission moment, and a dozen other names), “Don’t you think that we’ll make less money in the live auction or the silent auction if we also conduct an appeal?”
No, I don’t.
Nor has that proven to be the case at any of the 50 auctions I conduct onsite annually.
Instead, my client just raises more money.
We raise the same or similar live auction revenue. We raise the same or similar silent auction revenue. And by adding in the appeal, we raise another $10,000 … or $50,000 … or $100,000.
Here’s are two reasons why.
1. Smaller gift givers can participate.
Not everyone will participate in your live auction. Most benefit auctioneers agree that only 10-20% of the crowd will be active in the live auction.
So what are all those OTHER guests doing? How are you going to let THEM participate?
Through the fund a need!
An appeal lets those guests participate in the action. They, too, can raise their hand.
(I’m frequently THANKED after I conduct a fund a need! “You know that thing you did when you asked for money,” the guest will tell me, “After I’d heard you speak, I wanted to give, too. But thought it would be too high for my budget. Thanks for going down to let me give.”
And before you say, “I bet the live auction givers don’t give again,” let me stop you. They often DO donate again. My second reason explains why they might …
2. The appeal gift is usually 100% tax deductible.
Live auction items are not usually 100% tax deductible.
But a donation to an appeal often is! For those guests who are sensitive or savvy on tax matters, it can make a big difference.
Now let me make a wedding-based analogy to further explain my point.
I’ve attended a few weddings during which the bride and groom have a money dance. For a song or two, a guest can dance with either the bride or groom for a fee.
Depending on the crowd, the guests might pay $5 to $100 for the privilege of busting a move with one of the newly-married individuals. Given that each of those guests has already given a wedding gift to the couple, anyone who contributes during the money dance is “gifting twice.”
Do they care?
I don’t think they do. I don’t think it affects the actions of any guests. Those that want to dance will dance, regardless of whether they already gave a gift to the couple.
Imagine the scene. The music is jamming, guests are dining on good food and strong drinks, and everyone is chatting. In the midst of this great time, it’s announced that there will be a money dance.
Joe and Helen, two of the guests, cheer and clap with the crowd: “Whoo hooo!” Joe is excited! He loves weddings and is happy for the couple. He jumps up to grab the bride for a dance.
Which scenario happens next?
1. Joe whisks the bride around the floor to a fast polka and slips her a $20.
2. On his way to grab the bride, Joe stops abruptly at the edge of the dance floor. “Whoa,” he thinks, “We already spent money on this couple. My wife bought bedsheets … I wrapped them earlier today. Those greedy kids. We already gave them a gift and they have the nerve to ask me for more.” Joe then thinks the better of the money dance and skulks back to his chair.
C’mon. I’ve never seen the second scenario happen.
The decision to make a cash gift donation occupies a different place in our psyche than the decision to bid in a silent or live auction.
When presented properly to the crowd (and there IS a proper way to present it … not every auctioneer has the authenticity to elicit the same donations!), appeals can only build your total auction revenue.