Thursday, January 21, 2021

Rethinking Your Fundraising Events in 2021: A Crash Course


COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives – including how we fundraise. Tried and true methods of raising money and reaching donors have to be reimagined for this new, virtual world. Nonetheless, your mission remains the same (and important as ever).

The good news? You can reach your donors and your fundraising goals with virtual fundraising events.

 

Maybe your nonprofit hasn’t tapped into the power of virtual fundraising events. Or maybe you have but you’re looking for fresh, innovative ideas. Either way, we’re here to help!

 

Successful virtual fundraising events come in many shapes and sizes – and their flexibility enables nonprofits to customize and launch virtual events that fit their unique needs. You know your donor base best, so use this guide to find the virtual mold that fits your mission and community best. And then let the virtual fundraising begin!

 

We’ll cover the key steps to rethinking your fundraising events in 2021: 

 

  1. Understand the range of virtual fundraising events

  2. Update your event goals

  3. Review your nonprofit’s toolkit

  4. Make sure your audience is on board



  1. Understand the range of virtual fundraising events

With the advancement and growing popularity of fundraising technology and virtual tools, the stage is set for a boom in virtual fundraising events in 2021! The key is to make your virtual events stand out to your unique audience and find ways to engage them from start to finish. To help, we’ve gathered our favorite online fundraising ideas.


Virtual Auctions

Taking your nonprofit’s charity auction virtual has a few major benefits. These virtual events are highly flexible, engaging for audiences, and typically less resource-intensive to plan than in-person auctions.

 

You’ll need the perfect range of auction items, mobile bidding and/or live streaming software, and a plan for spreading the word to donors. Bonus points if you combine your virtual auction with additional live-streamed events or peer-to-peer fundraising elements!

Virtual Galas

Adapt your annual gala to take place virtually! Virtual galas and other live celebrations bring supporters together for an interactive program that highlights your mission and asks for support.

 

Use live-streaming software and virtual fundraising tools to plan and host your gala. Schedule a complete program of ceremonies, speakers, videos, entertainment, live appeals, and mission moments to keep attendees engaged. Incorporating a virtual auction is never a bad idea, either!

Virtual Peer-to-Peer Event

Hosting a virtual run, walk, ride or other on-the-ground event is a powerful way to bring people together, remind your supporters that they make a difference, and educate and inspire people about your mission. And it’s an effective way to raise dollars for your cause!

  

Taking your peer-to-peer fundraising virtual allows you to engage participants and supporters online, in fun, new and creative ways that motivate, and if executed correctly, can drive more fundraising.

Virtual Livestream and Fundraising Appeal

Virtual events and live stream programs are here to stay! The power of multi-media allows nonprofits to build connections with remote donors and humanize your mission, no matter where your supporters are.

 

Storytelling is essential here. As you tell your attendees about your mission, make your story their story. A high-quality event will communicate the most important messages at the right time throughout the event – ultimately, driving more fundraising activity and proceeds to fuel your mission. 



  1. Update your event goals

In order to host a successful campaign, you’ll first need to determine what success means to your

organization. It’s important to qualify and quantify exactly what you want to gain from your

virtual fundraising event, as that goal informs your planning strategy.

 

It’s important to note that goal setting may look different in 2021 depending on your limitations and

broader engagement or fundraising strategies – and that’s okay! It’s important to start early in the

planning process to keep any event team focused and on track.

 

To find the right monetary goal, you’ll need to look to your larger fundraising strategy and figure out

where an event could tie in. Whether it’s your first event of the year or your last, see where you are

to your annual goals and what progress still remains. That will guide your fundraising goals for your

online fundraising campaign!

 

In addition to raising money, you might also use a fundraising event to facilitate other goals, such as:

 

  • Acquiring new donors.

  • Promoting your cause or gaining publicity.

  • Stewarding existing donors.

  • Engaging prospective major donors.

  • Growing reach through Ambassador fundraisers.

  • Increasing average donations per supporter.

 

No matter what your goals are, make sure that you have a way to quantify them. If you don’t have a

metric for success going in, you can’t measure how well you did or improve your strategies going

forward. It’s all about progress!



  1. Review your nonprofit’s toolkit

Now that you know what you’d like your event to accomplish, you’ll need to review your nonprofit

toolkit to ensure you have the right technology to get the job done.

 

An increase in technological advancements has made it possible for nonprofit organizations of all

shapes and sizes to do more with virtual fundraising events. To reach the new world of donors who

increasingly give online, nonprofits must have a virtual event fundraising strategy that encourages

supporters to donate anytime and anywhere.

 

No matter your size or mission, keep these key features in mind as you’re looking for a virtual

fundraising solution:

 

  • Ease-of-use for you and your donors

  • Mobile optimized for any device

  • Ability for donors to cover transaction fees

  • Thermometers, giving timelines, and social donor walls

  • Option for free-standing microsites and embedded forms

  • Ability to spur competitive giving, matches, and fundraising challenges

  • Customizable giving levels form questions

  • Secure SSL/PCI compliant payment processing

 

OneCause is the top fundraising software that allows you to amplify your mission with online

fundraising. They are driven to improve the giving experience. Donors are looking for a connection;

and OneCause’s technology empowers organizations to put their mission at the forefront and make

giving mobile, social, and fun.



  1. Make sure your audience is on board

It should come as no surprise that as you move your fundraising online, you’ll need to bring your

marketing efforts online as well. After choosing your virtual fundraising strategy, setting your

fundraising goals, and ensuring you have the right tools to get the job done, the next step is to get

your audience on board! Digital marketing can help.

 

Digital marketing has become a reliable marketing technique for businesses of varying size and

industry. It encourages brand awareness, expands your organization’s reach, and allows you to more

effectively track your results. Social media, video, and email marketing are just a few inexpensive

ways to resonate with potential donors.


- Social media: Every follower on your nonprofit’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram

page represents an opportunity to grow your network of potential donors. Be sure to plan out

social posts on a daily basis to grow your community and build excitement around your campaign.


- Video: While video may seem daunting to some nonprofits, never fear. Sure – quality matters.

It reflects your brand! But you can create high quality video by simply using your smartphone. What

matters the most is your story. Stories that will be the most successful are those that emotionally

ignite your donors to act.


- Email Marketing: Email marketing is a cost and time-effective tool. This is an excellent way to

deliver a lot of information, reach a lot of interested people at once, and connect with your supporters

in an engaging way. You can segment your audience into different lists and grow donor retention by

creating campaigns and call-to-actions specific to those audiences.

 

Once you get the word out about your event, be sure that your audience knows how your upcoming

virtual events will differ from traditional in-person events that you’ve had in the past. You will need to

take steps to ensure your audience is ready to make the jump to virtual engagement – before, during,

and after.


- Before: Be sure to provide explanations of any new tools you’re using or processes you’re

following in all of your event marketing materials.


- During: Have staff on hand for troubleshooting during events, answering any questions, and being a

go-to resource for guests.


- After: Conduct surveys after your virtual event. Most importantly though – keep refining your process!

 




Don’t underestimate the support of your donors. Even with the impact of COVID-19, they are still looking

for ways to engage with your mission – virtual fundraising events are the perfect tool to help.

 

Virtual fundraising events will be an important part of nonprofits’ strategies for the foreseeable

future. Whether as full replacements for in-person events or as modern, hybrid engagement

opportunities, virtual tactics give organizations flexibility and a means to keep on fundraising. And they

give donors the ability to join in from anywhere!

 

With the right technology and strategies on your side, your nonprofit can begin building out an exciting

calendar of virtual events to grow your fundraising in 2021 and beyond. Whether you’re new to virtual

fundraising events or have executed them in the past but are looking for new ideas, we’re here to help.


First, understand the range of virtual fundraising events. Then update your goals, be sure you have the

right tools to support your goals, and get your audience engaged.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“Certificates of Authenticity” ARE MEANINGLESS for Charity Fundraisers!

 

Too many charities across the country believe this myth “Well, it has a Certificate of Authenticity so we know it’s real.” 

Now that I have your attention, let me both educate you and hopefully save you time, energy, money and your charities reputation.

First – can you imagine finding out that you sold counterfeit autographed items at your charities fundraiser?  The damage would be horrendous. 

A Certificate of Authenticity is absolutely, unequivocally meaningless!!!  Anybody could create a certificate of Authenticity that looks really impressive, using big words that are meant to impress you such as “Forensic Authenticator” – what does that mean?

If you look up what the term “Forensic” means, it says:  “Relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime.”  So basically, a “Forensic Authenticator is a fancy way of saying they use scientific methods to authenticate autographed items.”  So why not just say “Autograph Authenticator”? 

Don’t be fooled – a fancy card with a bunch of technical sounding terms means absolutely NOTHING!!!  Plus when someone really checks the autograph for authenticity and they take it too someone who is a reputable authenticator, the card is meaningless. 


Don’t you think if the autograph is fake or counterfeit, the awesome “Certificate of Authenticity” that came with it is counterfeit too? 

They commonly use fancy seals and graphically designed cards along with big terms.  They will also put a sticker on the item with a number.  All of this is an attempt to make you feel comfortable. 

But again, the Certificate of Authenticity is absolutely 100% MEANINGLESS.  Why do I say that?

Think about this – anyone can say they are a Doctor correct?  But when you look, they have a diploma from “Johnny’s Doctor School” in Cuba.  Would you let them treat you?  Oh no way. 

What matter is – WHO THE AUTHENTICATOR IS !!!  Are they reputable?  Are they accepted by Ebay or other outlets.  Do they have a long outstanding reputation. 

Here is another issue – Does that company authenticate more than just one autograph companies items?

Do your homework.  Check out the company you are getting autographed items from and then, ask “Who authenticated the autograph?”  If they “Self Authenticate” – RUN.  If they use a company who is relatively unknown – RUN.  If no other company in the world carries the same autographed items, RUN. 

Here is the most important – If the autographs are not authenticated by JSA, PSA/DNA, Beckett or Radtke – RUN. 

DON’T BE FOOLED – A Certificate of Authenticity is MEANINGLESS – Who authenticated the autograph is worth it’s weight in gold or just simply toilet paper.

 

If you would like to learn more about how to tell if an autograph is real or counterfeit, or you would like to ensure that you have 100% authentic autographed auction items, contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com, we would love to help you and your charity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Fundraising "MAGIC BULLET" Scam

 

As with everything in life, people are always looking for a “Magic Bullet” that will get them where they want to go quick or faster.  The “Get Rich Quick” schemes scam millions of people into attending seminars selling just about everything.  Diet fads come and go along with new “In Home” workout gear that will get rid of your belly and give you 6 pack abs nearly overnight. 

People looking for a “Magic Bullet” often fall prey to those selling them. 

In the charity and non-profit world, I see this all the time.  Between software that allegedly will make your life easier, to counterfeit autographed items from Musicians and Celebrities that no one else in the world has and also to direct mail campaigns. 

Then there are charities who ignore the “tried and true methods” of fundraising because they are convinced that those are wore out.  They often spend an enormous amount of work and lose hundreds of thousands of hours wasting their time to profit very little. 

Just like “Get Rich Quick” schemes never pay off, neither do the fundraising fads that
will make you more money and your life easier. 

The real charity fundraising “Magic Bullet” is hard work, determination and more importantly – TIME!!!  No one, not even me, can show up to a first-time fundraising event and somehow make your charity millions.  Charities and Non-Profits will often compare themselves to well established, centuries old charities who have been in existence for a very long time.  They will believe that if done correctly, they will fundraise the same amount as those non-profits do – WON’T HAPPEN!!!  Then when they do not raise a very large amount of money, will drop anything they are currently doing and begin again with some other plan.  When along they should know they have to stand in the fundraising trenches and build on what they have. 

Yet another method is, they will easily fall for a company promising that a direct mail campaign will raise them millions.  Then the hammer hits, the direct mail company wants an enormous fee and then wants you to provide the names for them to mail too. 

Recently, I sat through a sales pitch by a fundraising software company with one of my clients.  Because I’ve been around the block about 1,000 times in 12 years, their “Magic Bullet” tactics stood out like a sore thumb.  With my client being the President of a 2 year old charity, he had no experience and they knew it.  They showed him an “Example” of their software along with “Examples” of Sponsors such as Coca Cola, Google, McDonald’s etc.  They showed insanely successful auctions raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.  He fell for it hook, line and sinker and bit hard.  I could hear the salesperson slobbering over the phone at the monster commission she was about to get.  But then, there was me, a fundraising wolf in sheep's clothing standing beside him.

But what they failed to tell him, which I did was simply this.  We will call him “Bob” – I said “Bob, you know all that incredible stuff there shown in this presentation?”  He said “Yes and we want them too.”  I said “Well Bob, those are only examples and not real at all.  This company is using those brands and logo’s just to dress it up.  In fact Bob, you have to look at this software like going to a restaurant for dinner and you have to buy your own food, cook it and then the restaurant sells you the plate.  You or we have to do all the work.  This software is just that, an empty slate.”  “Oh” in a down voice he said “So they don’t give us these people at all?”  I said “No not at all, in fact, they don’t help us advertise it or get anyone to bid – OR – provide all those beautiful auction items – we must do everything.”  Well, that ended quickly with the salesperson wondering who in creation I was.

In closing, the charity or non-profit fundraising “Magic Bullet” is simply “hard work, determination and time.”  Plus educating you and your charity on the current fundraising trends that seem to change day to day.  Don’t fall for “Magic Bullets”…the only thing that will make you rich takes years of dedication and commitment.

Just put in the work.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  BW is known all over the country for expert guidance and assistance in the planning and management of highly profitable fundraising events as well as a leading provider of auction items for both Silent and Live Auctions.  Contact BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising today at www.BWUnlimited.com. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The “Secret” to successfully utilizing consignment items for your next Virtual or Live Event


With the new era of charities changing their fundraising strategies from live gala’s to virtual events, their fun
draising strategies must evolve as well.  With small businesses taking the brunt of the financial crisis, it now has become much harder for these businesses to donate items. 

However, there are businesses or individuals who never get asked to donate anything simply because they have nothing to give.  These businesses are the professionals in your areas such as Real Estate Agents, Accountants, Doctors, Consultants etc.  They are never approached and asked unlike the local jewelry store.

We must acknowledge that a charity’s supporters are local people, attending or being a part of a local fundraiser (whether it is live or virtual) with items donated by local businesses. 

During a virtual fundraising event, charities have items which have mass appeal while also drawing bids from many bidders across the country.  They key to this is simply “Consigned Auction Items” such as 100% authentic autographed items, charity travel packages, d├ęcor and jewelry. 

A year ago, we started teaching charities across North America about the “Secret” to utilizing consignment items and to remove the associated stigma in reference to the use of donated items versus consignment items.  The “Secret” is having the consigned items sponsored.  The word quickly spread throughout the industry and other companies began addressing this too.  It’s a “Win Win” strategy.

Here are the reasons they are much more successful than donated items and the “Secret” to making them incredibly successful:

#1 – High profile items bring much more attention than “Run of the Mill” donated items.  Many more people will be drawn to your Silent or Live Auction because of these high-profile items.

#2 – 90% of supporters can not sponsor at high levels such as $1,000.00 and above.  However, they can sponsor for much lower levels which equals to the cost to non profit of the consigned items.

#3 – If an item or items are sponsored and they are consigned, the sponsorship payment is given directly to your charity.  We recommend starting the bid or setting the “Reserve Bid” at 20% above the cost to nonprofit.  If the item receives a bid and no matter how high it goes, the charity profits 100% since the item is sponsored.  However, in reverse, if the same sponsored item or items are sponsored and they do not receive bids, the item either is removed from the online auction or if it is a live event, they are returned to the provider and your charity keeps the sponsorship funds. 

#4 – Remember that many businesses sponsor for advertising or marketing which you provide by listing their name and business in the listing.

After you choose the items which you would like to utilize, simply create a catalog to show to potential sponsors.  This will open up an entirely new fundraising stream and attract many more sponsors while you are able to provide high profile, eye catching items in your next fundraising live or silent auction.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American charity fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  For more information about our auction items or how we can help you exceed your fundraising goals, contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com.

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Donated items vs. Consigned Items: Myth or Fact

As with anything, there are myths that are passed down from year to year, from person to person that inadvertently can turn into a “Tall Tale.”  But in the charity world, these myths are like walking through the woods and following a wrong path toward the edge of a cliff.  However, even though there may be people along the way telling them to turn around, they believe the path they are on is the right way regardless of the facts.

What myth am I referring too?  The myth that donated items are far better than utilizing consignment items.  I too believed that a very long time ago until I opened my eyes and saw the reality based solidly on the facts.

I began my fundraising career as a volunteer assisting several outdoor charities which send out catalogs of items to their respective chapters around the world.  These catalogs are full of incredible items which in the end, the chapter has to pay for.  Uneducated, I thought that if I could get items fully donated, that would raise much much more money because, inevitably, we had to pay for those items.  Boy was I wrong. 

Now understand, I was the “King of Donations.”  Now, looking back, I realize that the hundreds of donated items I was able to get, truly didn’t have any theme nor were they exciting.  When we used the donations, they would do horrible up against or compared to the items which we had to pay for.  I was a volunteer and thinking “How could this be true?”  But the fact is, the charities knew it and understood they needed high quality items for people to bid on. 

If you don’t believe me, go to the website that charities report directly to in order to be rated – www.CharityNavigator.com and see for yourself how successful the above is for them.  These charities were the first and only to adopt a program which their fundraising chapters were to “BUY” items to auction.  Here are their numbers:


Ducks Unlimited - Net Revenue:  $233,638,780.00

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation - Net Revenue:  $84,644,739.00

National Wild Turkey Federation - Net Revenue:  $23,122,179.00

 

I met personally met with one of the largest charities which the world is very familiar with (who shall remain nameless) and their Director of Development said “George, we don’t want our chapters getting donations because it’s nothing but junk.”  Now, if they understand this fact, why doesn’t the rest of the charity world grasp it?  The answer is:  Education.  Furthermore, there are people who work in the charity industry (not the charities themselves) who fight against using consignment items.

If you notice, I’ve said “Consignment Items” unlike the charities above who force their chapters to buy items, our items are “Consigned” which means if the charity does not profit, the items DO NOT SELL. 

I’m going to tell you the reality of donated items but you have to be open enough to read and understand this.  Here are the facts:

#1 – Charities rarely look back to see or analyze what the donated items sold for.  If they did, they would be shocked.

#2 – Charities routinely use the same donated items year after year with the audience for that or those items dropping each year.  As an example, each year someone may donate the use of their vacation home.  However, many of the guests know they can go directly to that person and get it cheaper or Free.  Even if it’s auctioned off year after year, the audience for it drops drastically.

#3 – Charities do not comprehend the fact that IF the item does not sell high or sell at all, how that will hurt the donating businesses reputation.  I have seen this for myself, an item that was worth $1,200.00 sold for $40.00.  The donor was so upset, he stood up and yelled that it would have been better for him to write a check.

#4 – Across North America, donated items are only selling for 1/8th to 1/4 of their retail value in any Silent or Live Auction.

#5 – Donated Items come from local businesses, donating to local people attending a local event – if the guests of that event wanted the item or items, they would go them themselves.

#6 – Common donated items at charity events are Gift Certificates and Gift Baskets

which is also commonly advertised by fundraising companies as a means to say “Look, I’m trying to help you by giving you ideas” however, the truth is – everyone is looking for a deal.  No one EVER buys themselves a gift certificate to a restaurant, it doesn’t make sense.  Why would you buy a $50.00 Gift Certificate for yourself when you can just go there anytime and spend $50.00 on a meal.  In regard to Gift Baskets, these are overwhelmingly the most common item at events.  However, if you either truly answer this question or ask others this, you will be dismayed at the answer:  How many gift baskets did you give away to your family or friends for the holidays?  The answer is always NONE.  So why do charities continue to think these items will be profitable?  Someone would never give you full value of a Gift Certificate – it goes against human nature.  No one wants gift baskets and that’s why they are given away for gifts.

#7 – Businesses can not donate really profitable items which they sell in their stores, they must be able to continue to keep their business open.  They commonly will donate something that isn’t selling in order to at least get a write off or because someone is standing there, from their community asking.

#8 – Charities are misguided when they think they are the only people to ask that business for a donation.  Unfortunately, that week alone, they were asked 20 times.  Ask them for yourself about this?

#9 – EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR A DEAL.  People spend with their wallets and NOT with their hearts – this is fact.

When using consigned items, such as the ones that we provide, you must understand “HOW” to use them and why they are successful. 

When charities are asked if they would like to use our consignment items, we commonly hear the same excuses such as “Our guests don’t have that kind of money” which is the single most phrase we hear.  However, the reality is, how would you know what your guests can afford if you are only offering them items such as a $50.00 gift certificate or John’s Vacation Home?  You have no idea how they will spend their money.  They want great items and will always bid high in order to win them.

Here are the facts for consignment items:

#1 – You must start the “Reserve” or “Starting Bid” at least 20% above the Cost to Non Profit. 

#2 – Prior to your event, you and your charity should get the consignment items sponsored.  More people can afford to sponsor items at a lesser price than Sponsorships ranging in the thousands.  By getting the items sponsored, you are guaranteed to make 100% of the selling price.  If the item does not sell, the item is simply returned and your charity keeps the sponsorship money. 

#3 – Guests are looking for exciting items and Vacation Packages to bid on, not local arts & crafts.

#4 – Charity events in a local community compete against each other.  Depending on the event, which one do you think more people would like to attend?  The one that has a silent auction filled with Gift Baskets and Gift certificates or the one filled with one of kind items and vacation packages? 

#5 – You are guaranteed to profit.

#6 – Guests routinely bid low on donated items but bid high on consignment items – what does this prove?  That they indeed have the money to spend but they will only spend higher amounts on items which are worth it.  Plus if you use donated items in the silent auction, having consigned items mixed in will raise the bid amounts on the donated items.

In summary, by continuing to do what you and your charity has always done, step out of the box and try new things and new approaches.  We strongly suggest you follow the lead of some of the most successful charities in the country and use high quality items which you can get from us, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising, for your next Live and Silent Auction.

If we can help you or answer questions about this or other myths, contact us at info@bwunlimited.com.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is the nations leading charity fundraising company in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  BWUCF offers a wide array of auction items and is known as the only trusted provider in the charity industry for truly 100% authentic autographed items.  BWUCF also offers a full suite of event planning and staffing.  For more information, check out our website at www.BWUnlimited.com.