A budget for fundraising gala will vary by group (for instance, you might have access to a free venue; others might negotiate discounted printing), but when we look at the budgets of committees coast-to-coast, we see common expenses.
And it’s not uncommon to see costs shape up like the chart on the right.
So do you think that if you write the biggest check to the caterer or the venue or the band (pick a category), they are providing the greatest help to you in your mission?
Let’s consider some examples …
If the florist creates stunning centerpieces, will that help you raise money?
No. I’ve yet to see a guest stand up and donate $1000 because the centerpieces rocked.
What about the US Postal Service?
Will the mailman deliver your invitation in such a way that a new guest will decide to buy a ticket?
No. And having “extra cool programs” from a printer doesn’t gain you extra money, either.
Does a neat venue make you money?
Well …. sometimes. An unusual space might attract more guests, especially if it’s usually something “off-limits” to the public.
That said, the mission of the venue owner isn’t about helping you raise cash. His mission is to provide you a comfortable, safe venue. So don’t expect the venue’s owner to deliver a compelling speech that will inspire guests to donate.
What about a kick-ass band?
If you budget more money for a band and get someone REALLY good, will you raise more money?
If the entertainer’s name is Aerosmith, Billy Joel or something similar, you’ll sell more tickets and – yes – this could equate to more profit.
But if you’re spending a lot more to merely hire a local “better” band, save your money. A band’s focus is to entertain; not compel guests to give. You might have a more enjoyable listening experience, but that doesn’t mean you’ll raise more money.
Here’s the bottom line.
The ONLY vendor who shares your goal of raising money is the auctioneer.
To accomplish this goal, auctioneers use their personality, charisma and chant (it’s outside the scope of this post, but the “fast talk” makes you money).
They facilitate the event so it has momentum. They cajole and entertain.
And if you’re using a benefit auctioneer, you’ll also get additional ideas prior to the event that will improve your gala. The good ones will consult with you.
So when it comes to selecting vendors, where do you think your biggest decision lies?
Your biggest decision should be who to hire as your auctioneer. It’s the ONLY vendor sharing your mission.
If you’re going to screw up on hiring a vendor, don’t let it be the auctioneer. They’re the only vendor focused on fundraising.
They don’t care about making pretty invitations … they aren’t focused on serving the food at 7:30 PM … they aren’t trying to provide a danceable beat. They care about selling high.
Next week I’ll tell a personal story about how I learned the importance of vendor selection in my former corporate job.