There was a problem at one of my spring fundraising auctions.
The event was new, designed to take the place of a more traditional fundraising dinner. For many years the dinner reliably drew 400- 500 guests. The hope was that this new event would attract a similarly sized crowd.
At first the planner dropped the guest count estimate to 300. Five days prior to the auction, the count wasn’t yet 100.
It didn’t climb much higher than that.
(Not all events are stellar out of the gate, are they? It’s a matter of learning the lessons and improving.)
Given the reduced guest count, I knew I’d be working to get some respectable sales from the auction items, but I was also aware of an aggressive goal we had in the Fund a Need.
Our plan for the Paddle Raise portion of the event required us to secure 14 gifts at $500. It was a high goal that was only compounded with the reduced guest count.
At the gala, I asked for pledges. At the $500 level, we had 13 guests raise their bid card. We were just one person shy of our goal!
When it was clear that no one else could be inspired to donate, I gave $500.
(I don’t make it a practice to donate to all my clients, but it would have been heartbreaking to not hit the goal. And given the guest count and mobile bidding technology failure of the day, my heart was already bleeding for the auction planner.)
The nonprofit’s thank you letter and receipt arrived in my mail a few weeks later.
Under the “donations” section of the auction checkout receipt, it didn’t say “Fund a Need” or “Paddle Raise” or “Cash Donation.” Instead, it listed what my $500 donation had the capacity to accomplish — providing a child homework help with an iPad.
That’s smart. If the donor had forgotten or didn’t know what his $500 donation could do, he’s reminded again on the receipt.
(See the photo of my receipt.)
Another nice touch was that the accompanying thank you letter included a full page of color photographs, showing the children who were helped via these donations.
Here’s the bottom line: You can share your mission in many different ways, including something as mundane as the auction checkout receipt.
On the receipt, be specific in how someone’s donation will serve your nonprofit. Offer suggestions of how the donor’s gift will make an impact. Put a photo. Make even the receipt personal and unique to your cause.
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