I’m not a gal who likes to fly by the seat of my pants at a gala. I prefer a high level of preparation so I can better adapt when something does go off script.
One place I’ve made spontaneous changes has been in the Fund a Need.
My preference is to set paddle raise gift levels in advance, but here’s one example where a spur of the moment change was warranted.
At the event, my initial ask was to be $25,000, working my way down to smaller donation levels:
Guests generously raised their hand to offer donations. As we moved through the levels, I found myself walking among the tables to personally acknowledge donors.
When I reached the $250 level, nearly 20 people raised their hand to give. I then started to introduce the $100 level — and that’s when the commotion began.
A few guests called my name and pointed to the other side of the room.
I turned to scan the room for bid numbers, wondering who I was missing. Were other guests wanting to donate? I didn’t see cards in the air.
It took me a moment to realize guests were pointing DOWN.
A young girl was winding her way around the tables. Not much taller than a seated adult, she was easy to miss.
“I’m Sylvia. I saved $144 from my lemonade stand,” she said, and thrust an envelope into my hand.
Sylvia was donating less than $250, but more than $100. She was presenting her gift at the most appropriate time in our Fund a Need activity — between the two stated levels of $250 and $100.
On the fly, I created a level.
I turned to the guests and said, “Sylvia is 11 years old. She’s donating $144 — the proceeds from her lemonade stand. Before we move to that $100 level, I wonder who might want to join Sylvia in donating $144 tonight.”
- 21 people gave $144.
- 2 people gave $100.
Safely assuming that those 21 people were planning on donating $100 yet increased their amount to match Sylvia’s, her unusual paddle raise level raised an additional $924 ($44 X 21).
For many reasons, it’s best to set your Fund a Need levels before starting the activity. Yet when opportunities present themselves, creating levels on the fly can be effective.