Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Do I Really HAVE to Follow Up on Event Fundraising?

In a word, "yes," you really do have to follow up and when you do, you'll reap some great rewards!  

Your letters have been sent complete with a great sponsorship opportunities page and you've got your script in hand to do those follow up calls.  Here are some thoughts on how to proceed.

1.  Think strategically about specific businesses to ask for your larger sponsorships and do that by phone.  You might consider doing that BEFORE the letters go out and then, as a part of your telephone conversation, let them know to expect the letter.

2.  Call EVERYONE on your list, EVERYONE and follow up.  Divide your list into manageable volunteer lists, provide them with a script, and ask your board of directors, parents, and/or other volunteers to make five to ten phone calls for you.  

3.  Keep a really good list (I personally prefer excel for project-based follow up) so that I know who said yes, who said no, who I need to call again, and when follow up such as picking up an auction item is needed.

4.  Delegate more than just the phone calls, delegate the follow up items, too, such as picking up those auction items.

I would add a note here to say that I truly believe that people are hesitant to ask someone for something and even more so when they have to do it by phone or in person.  The internet via Facebook and email are so much more "incognito," so to speak.  If you are making the calls or if you are managing volunteers making the calls, the strategy is the same.  Be the cheerleader and encourage your folks.  Five phone calls in a day.  You can do this!  I once heard an author say that she struggled to do her five required pages each day for a particular book so she put five candies across the top of her computer and as she finished a page, she enjoyed a candy.  Provide for yourself or your volunteers a nice, small, gesture to say that you appreciate the work.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Event Sponsorships Part III

Event Sponsorships Part III

Thanks for checking back again.  Let's jump right in and talk about the pathway to your overall event goal and then scripting for follow up on an outstanding sponsorship request letter.

So, contemplating and planning the pathway to your goal is vitally important. To say, "let's have a trivia night; it will be so much fun and we'll raise some money," is not good enough.  How much do you want/need to raise?  What expenses will be involved that may bring down the total amount raised from the event?  

Here is how it might look...we previously stated an assumed goal of $20,000 for this first event.

We also said that we, just for an example, sold the following sponsorships (from that fantastic letter, remember?)

One Gold Sponsorship at $5,000
One Silver Sponsorship at $2,500
Two Bronze Sponsorships at $1,000
Five Table Sponsors at $500

Those would total $12,000.

Now, let's think ticket sales.  An expected cost per ticket is most likely $25 per person and some offer a discount that would allow a couple to come for $40.  For simplicity, let's go with individual tickets at $25 per person.

We're going to have our event at a venue that will seat 250 easily so if we sold out, we would have $6,250 in ticket sales; however, didn't we just say yesterday that those who donated sponsorships would get a table as a part of their benefits?  We did and it's a great benefit for a lot of reasons.  

So, let's take out nine tables of 10 or 90 people so now we're at 160 available tickets to sell for a total of $4,000 in ticket sales.  There is a possibility that the ABC company which gets a table of ten for their sponsorship donation will decide to "donate" the table back.  In that case, you can sell those tickets or you can use them, wisely, to invite potential donors, etc. to your event free of charge.  

That's only $16,000 and we really wanted to reach our goal of $20,000, didn't we?  

Most trivia nights, golf outings, galas, etc., now incorporate the idea of a silent and/or live auction to increase the funds raised. 

Your auction needs to bring in $4,000 in order for you to make your goal.  You can include on your sponsorship letter and opportunity page mailing the opportunity to donate a gift item from their business. 

Auctions take on a life of their own and really require someone to specifically manage that piece.  With good  management, your $4,000 goal will be achieved.  More about that in another blog...

Now, you've sent those great letters and you're expecting boxes and checks to come rolling in, right?  Well, that's not EXACTLY how it works.  I remember someone once saying, "the devil is in the details," and this is a prime example.  

You absolutely have to follow up on every letter you send out whether it is for your annual appeal, a scholarship initiative, or an event, follow up is the most essential part of your business and will determine your success.

Here is the simplest of scripts and you will be amazed at how much you can gain from using it.

"Hi Mr./Ms. XXX, I am XXX with XXX school and I am calling to follow up on a letter we sent recently to request a donation for our upcoming  auction and trivia night."  Answer questions and provide needed information.  At some point in your conversation ask, "can we count on you to support our Trivia Night with a sponsorship?"  If they are not interested in a sponsorship, work your way down to a Gift In Kind auction item.  Be sure to include in your conversation their opportunities for recognition.

If your contact person is not there, ask for voice mail and leave a message with a person as the last option.

Most people would say that telephone follow up is their least favorite but yet most effective form of communication to getting the dollars in the door.  Don't think of this as cold calling because it really isn't.  This is following up on a letter that you sent out to see if their interest fits with your opportunity.

Next time we'll chat more about following up on your solicitations for events...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Event Sponsorships Part II

Event Sponsorships Part II

Thanks for checking talk about some specific examples of sponsorship levels and recongition opportunities for your potential donors.

Remember the trivia night event idea from yesterday?  Let's set a goal of $20,000 for our first time.  How are we going to achieve such a lofty goal our first time out with this event. 

Let's consider this...

Sponsorships can help you achieve goals, provide income to help you spread the word, and you are helping the sponsor to get their name out, too.

Try this as a possible Sponsorship Opportunities piece:

$5,000     Gold Sponsor
$2,500     Silver Sponsor
$1,000     Bronze Sponsor
$  500      Table Sponsor

But, think about what you can offer these sponsors at the various giving levels.

At $5,000, the exclusive Gold Sponsor would receive One table with premier seating for 10, Logo recognition on your website, logo recognition in the event program (250), recognition in your annual report (or similar publication listing all donors), logo recognition on table, verbal recognition by emcee during the event, logo recognition on slide during event, recognition via a press release distributed to X number of media outlets in your community.

At $2,500, a Silver sponsor would receive One table with premier seating for 10, Logo recognition on your website, recognition in the event program (250), recognition in your annual report (or similar publication listing all donors), logo recognition on table,  recognition on slide at event, recognition via a press release distributed to X number of media outlets in your community.

At $1,000, a Bronze sponsor sponsor would receive One table with seating for 10, recognition on your website, recognition in the event program (250), recognition in your annual report (or similar publication listing all donors), recognition on slide at event, recognition via a press release distributed to X number of media outlets in your community.

At $500, a Table Sponsor sponsor would receive One table with seating for 10, recognition in the event program (250), recognition in your annual report (or similar publication listing all donors), recognition on slide at event, recognition via a press release distributed to X number of media outlets in your community.

If you sold one Gold Sponsorship at $5,000, one Silver Sponsor at $2,500, two Bronze Sponsors at $1,000, and four Table Sponsors at $500, you would bring in $11,500 in revenue.

Add to your sponsorships, the cost of ticket sales and your auction piece and you will most likely reach that goal! 

Another thought is to allow one of your $1,000 sponsorships to perhaps be a gift-in-kind grocer who is willing to donate food and drink to the event. 

Tune in next time for Part Three where we'll break down the pathway to your event goal and discuss tips and tricks for getting in touch with your potential sponsors.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Event Sponsorships Planning

Event Sponsorships and Fundraising Efforts (PART ONE)

It has been suggested that your organization try an event to raise funds this year.  What to do?  Where do you start?  Here are some tips to help get your inaugural event off the ground with great success.

1.  Select your event and determine who would be most likely to be interested in attending...what audience would enjoy a golf tournament, a trivia night, a bowl-a-thon, a gala, etc.  The list of possible events is quite literally endless.

2.  Determine the financial goal of the event.  If you are hosting the first ever Trivia Night to benefit your child's school, you might set a goal of $15,000.  

3.  Find the location, determine total capacity crowd, set a reasonable price for individual tickets and then ponder sponsorship possibilities.

4.  Generally speaking, a place to start with sponsorship levels looks like this: "Gold Sponsor" $5,000; "Silver Sponsor" $2,500; "Bronze Sponsor" $1,000; Table Sponsor $500.  Individual tickets for this same event might be $25 per person for a total table cost of $200 to $250 depending on table size.

5.  Develop your sponsorship prospect list.  Who, corporately speaking, would be interested in sponsoring something with your intended audience?  If the event is for your child's school in your local community, your likely prospects would include local community businesses as well as businesses related to education and perhaps vendors to your school (those who sell their services to your school).

6.  Develop and send your first mailing with a personalized letter and a "sponsorship opportunities" page. Your "sponsorship opportunities" page also needs to include ways in which the company can and will be recognized for their gift.  Suggestions include:  a table of 10 with premier seating, logo recognition on website, printed publications, a placard in your school, etc.  Think outside the box for options that are free and inexpensive but will definitely give your funder bang for their buck.

7.  Be sure to do phone follow up a week to two weeks following your letter's drop date.  Get a "yes," a "no," or a "maybe," for each company to whom you mailed a solicitation letter.

8.  Depending on your event, you may want to also solicit auction items for a silent or live auction option to raise additional funds.  This is attractive to attendees of a trivia night, gala, and golf outing.

9.  You will be marketing your event as you progress toward your date so be sure to tout your fundraising success thus far.  For example, you might include in a press release announcing the event, "The Super School is hosting a Trivia Night sponsored by XYZ Corporation, ABC Company and others who have contributed to evening's events."  

10.  Be sure to follow up with your sponsors throughout the process and be sure to mix and mingle with them on the evening of the event so they can see how beneficial their gift the school as well as to their own business.

Coming in part two of this post will be a breakdown of sponsorship levels with recognition as well as scripting for follow up calls...check back!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Announcing...a new fundraising blog!

LLM Development Services is proud to announce our new blog!  Great news and a wonderful opportunity to share tools and tips to help you reach your fundraising goals. 

Recently, a client asked us to write their appeal letters to individuals, corporations, and foundations.  The proposal we provided to them included a script for volunteers to use when calling to follow up on the letter as well as a timeline for mailing, follow-up phone call, thank you letter (s), and an additional letter for non-responders. 

Additionally, we wrote a letter for both renewals as well as prospects and included updated giving levels.

Their results were fantastic!  Their goal for individual renewals alone was exceeded by 33%.  That's great to hear.  What was even better was hearing the following:

"We are thrilled!  We will definitely use your [LLM Development Services] services again!"

Woohoo!  This is exciting stuff! 

What is the first thing you can do to improve your fundraising bottom line?  Simply start...start researching, start asking, start evaluating, start, start, start...

The one thing that will hold you back is the fear of starting.  So, don't let one more day go by without doing something, anything, to move your business forward.  Tomorrow or even tonight before you go to bed, send one email, take a look at one website, and say that you did something rather than nothing to take a step in the forward direction!

Happy Fundraising!