Friday, March 6, 2020

How to attract large Financial Sponsors

When explaining the “Reality of Charity Fundraising”, I try to use an image that most can imagine.  One of the most frequent questions I get from our clients is this:  “How do we get major Financial Sponsors?” 

As with most things involved in charity fundraising, we first have to get around sediment and understand reality since there are many “Charity Myths.”  The charity myth involved here is that major financial sponsors do so because they love the charity’s mission.  That’s partially true because some may love your charity or it’s mission but the vast majority are attracted by what I am about to explain here.

To begin explaining, I like to provide something “Visual” which most people are familiar with.  Imagine a ball of small fishing out in the ocean.  You may have seen one on TV, when the school of fish feel like they are going to be attacked by predators, they begin to swim in a tight ball.  That “Tight Ball” of fish represents the guests at your event.

The ball attracts large, predatory fish such as barracuda’s, Tuna, Dolphin and then Sharks which feed on them all.  The predatory fish ranging in all sizes from smallest to largest (sharks) all feed on the ball.  They quickly dart through it with their mouths open gobbling up as many as they can.  These “Predator Fish” represent Financial Sponsors of all sizes ($1,000.00 Sponsors , $2,500.00 Sponsors, $5,000.00 and finally the $10,000.00 plus Sponsor – The GREAT WHITE Shark). 

With your guest’s numbers being high, the sponsors are attracted to them in hopes to advertise to them.  Remember, all your guests are in one place at one time, what better way to advertise to a businesses target market.  Like ball of fish being fed on by the larger fish, the one thing that will and does attract larger financial sponsors is simply “Advertisement capabilities.” 

Ask yourself this – does it matter that the Financial Sponsor loves your charity if they are writing you a check for $5,000.00 check?  I would hope you would say absolutely not.  The donated $5,000.00 can be used to fulfill your charities mission.

As a real life example, I told one of our many clients that potential major financial sponsors will not care about where their money is going to or what it will be used for.  He later said and I quote "George, when you told me that I felt so angry I wanted to punch you in the nose.  But after we landed over $100,000.00 in sponsorships, do you know how many asked me where the money was going?  Not one.  You are right and I would have never believed it."  This same client one evening received a $5,000.00 sponsor and posted a their logo on Facebook announcing it.  The very next morning, the sponsors competition called asking about what they gave to our client and in response, said "Come over and pick up a check for $5,000.00" all based on competition and advertisement.

Just this morning, I was speaking with Tony Lebron, our client from the New York Law Enforcement Assistance Program.  Tony said he is living proof that it works.  He posted a photo of him picking up a Sponsor's check on Facebook and in the comments, another person asked to sponsor too.  It just works!!!  Tony is living proof.    

So with that in mind, prior to beginning to seek large financial Sponsors, you must prepare a “Sponsorship Package” which includes advertisement/marketing of the sponsor.  The higher they sponsor, the more advertisement/ marketing they receive.  Think of the many different ways you can provide marketing of the Sponsor both outside of your event and inside then put it together in package at different levels.

If you would like to learn more about how to attract major financial sponsors or how to build sponsorship packages, contact us at, we would love to help you.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The #1 WORST Enemy of a Charity Fundraising Committee

The worst enemy of a charity planning a fundraiser is “Negativity.”  Negativity has a tendency to spread like a disease if not cured quickly.

There are many causes for negativity in a fundraising committee, however this is what I have seen on many occasions:

#1 – Control – A member of your committee or team may want to be in charge. 

#2 – Destruction – A member of your committee may not like the person in charge and they will do whatever they can to ensure that the event is not a success.  They do this in hopes that the person in charge will fail and look awful, further making them look better.

#3 – Persistent Negativity – Some people are always negative and live a pessimistic life.

#4 – Hidden Agenda – A member of your committee may have been in charge or a friend of theirs was in charge in the past but was replaced by someone new.  If the new person in charge is successful, their failure or their friend’s failure will be revealed even more.  They will also want to see that person removed so that they or their friend can return to that role.

There are many reasons for negativity, however the best prescription for negativity is:

#1 – Recruiting – Look for positive, energetic people who want the event to be a success.

#2 – Tone – Set the tone with the committee right from the beginning. 

#3 – Prevention – If someone on your committee is constantly negative, remove them immediately before it spreads to the other members.

You will waste more energy and time trying to either change their behavior or simply dealing with them in order to keep them happy.  Remember, if they are negative, they will not do anything to help you and your charity be a success.  They will cause arguments and make life miserable for both you and your committee.

Look for people who will support your efforts, not people who will detract from it.  Building a strong team/committee is the most important aspect and the foundation of a successful fundraiser.  Do not just recruit everyone, carefully select an All Star Team.

If you would like to learn more helpful tips on how to plan a highly successful fundraising event from the beginning, check out our website at

Sunday, February 2, 2020

CHARITIES BEWARE !!! Here are several simple tips to protect yourself from charity scams.

Why am I writing this blog today?  Yesterday my friend and client Patrick Cullinan send me several links to a charity who was hosting an event.  While looking both at the video of the autographed auction items displayed and then further investigating the provider of the items, it was clearly obvious that the autographed items were 100% counterfeit autographs.  Patrick is very familiar with the autograph industry and after showing him the obvious clues, he said and I quote “Now I see why you are so irritated with the charity fundraising counterfeiters out there who scam charities.”  How could I tell they were counterfeit (aka Fake)?
When I see charities across the United States being scammed or stolen from, it irritates me to the highest degree mainly due to my background after spending (20) years as a Maryland State Trooper.  However, I must say, after spending (12) years trying to educate charities on the “Reality of the Authentic Autograph World”, charities absolutely must educate themselves before they partner with an charity autograph provider.

Ask yourself this question – Would you or your charity like to be featured on your local or national news about being scammed or stolen from by a Charity Fundraising autograph counterfeiter?  Would you like your guest to take the item to an authenticator and after finding out the autographs are FAKE, they demand their money back?  If you don’t mind this, stop reading.  But if you do care, read on and share this to all of your friends.

Here are some easy tips for the uneducated eye to use:

#1 – “Who Authenticated the items” - Are the autographed items authenticated by an “Authentic Authenticator” or accepted autograph authenticator?  (FACT:  There are only a hand full of accepted authenticators in the world.  These authenticators are – JSA James Spence Authentication (   PSA/DNA ( Beckett (

#2 – “Availability” – Are the items available in the real world and if they are not, why not?  The autograph industry is available to anyone, in fact, when someone is conducting an autograph signing, the entire autograph memorabilia industry is notified.  Also, how easy is it to get in contact with Musicians or Celebrities?  Most “A” Celebrities and Musicians (mainly the iconic or well know musicians) must be “chased.”  What does “chased” mean?  Someone must find out where they are or going to be and go there and wait till they come outside then ask for their autograph.  Iconic Musicians such as the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffet, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Eric Clapton etc. live all around the world.  It is nearly impossible to get them all at once – then to get them to sign a large amount of autographs.

#3 – “Price” – Plain and Simple, authentic autographs are EXPENSIVE.  As an example, a well known Charity Fundraising autograph provider provides Rolling Stones full band signed items to charities for under $3,000.00.  However, I know of only several authentic band signed Rolling Stones autographed items which are proven to be 100% authentic that are slightly under $10,000.00 and a guitar, well that’s nearly $17,000.00.  These items are authentic.  Bruce Springsteen rarely autographs anything, when you find an autographed item from him and it’s authentic, it’s going to be very expensive.

#4 – “Certificate of Authenticity” – I hear this from many different charities “Well it has a Certificate of Authenticity”, which means absolutely nothing!!!  Anyone can make their own Certificate of Authenticity.  Think about it, if the autograph is fake, won’t the Certificate of Authenticity be fake as well?  They must realize that the Thief or Charity Fundraising counterfeiter is going to provide a Certificate of Authenticity just to make the item or items appear legitimate.  Again, going back to #1, it’s all about WHO AUTHENTICATED the autograph.

#5 – “All that Glitters isn’t gold” – Charities get caught up in the “Glitz & Glamour” and don’t look passed it.  Like a large mouth bass who are routinely caught by a shiny object flowing through the water, charities see an “autographed Cowboy Hat” or a “Band Signed Guitar” and think “Wow, that’s really cool” and just move forward.  Do you want to be the charity who is responsible for selling a counterfeit item to your supporters?  One provider is actually showing on their website a Robert Plant & Jimmy Page autographed photo which is as real as the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus rolled into one.  These items just simply DO NOT EXIST.

#6 – “Proof Positive” – This is really easy?  Before accepting anything for your Live or Silent Auctions, ask them who authenticated the items.  But then, there is a well known term in the auction industry called “Provenance.”  The definition of this is “Provenance - This term refers to the history of ownership of the item being sold. An interesting or unusual provenance can add to the value of a piece, such as when an item was previously owned by a famous (or notorious) person, a popular celebrity, or an important historical figure. Proof of provenance is critically important. Hearsay, or family legend does not meet the criteria for provenance.”  The provider should know where it was autographed, when it was autographed and if they are REAL authentic autograph item provider, they will have either a photo or a video showing it being autographed.  Anyone real will have this to verify that they are not thieves or counterfeiters.

Charities, please for your own protection – learn what an authentic item looks like and the simple methods any layman can use to ensure the items are real.  Remember, the #1 way to protect yourself and your charity is – Who authenticated it?

Just ask these simple questions?

Are the autographed items authenticated by JSA, PSA/DNA or Beckett?  If they say no – RUN

     What are the prices of these fantastic items?  If they aren’t very expensive – RUN

     What date and where were the items autographed?  If they don’t know – RUN

     Do you have exact proof such as a photo or video of the items being autographed?  If they don’t – RUN!!!

If you follow this simple advice, your guests will be protected and so will your charity.

Whether you get items from BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or someone else, first and foremost, we want you to be protected 100% of the time.  If you have questions or concerns about your items or if you would like to learn more about the “Reality of the Autograph World” – call us at 443.206.6121 or email us through our website at – we would love to help you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Philosophy and the “Art of the Ask”: How to increase financial donations

The old days of placing an envelope on the table at your charity fundraising event or passing around a basket, called “Passing the Hat” are long gone.  In fact, if you did that today, you would find 98% of the envelopes empty.

So how do you get people to donate money and more importantly, large sums of money?  This is a two-pronged strategy and approach.  But first we must understand that society today has changed to a “What will you do for me?” mentality.

In order to get more sponsors and to entice more people to donate, we first must understand this:

#1 - Companies will donate or invest in exchange for advertisement.  The more advertisement they receive, the more they will donate or sponsor.

#2 – Donors, that is people who will or could make large donations, they too want something for their donations.  What do these people want you ask?  To be noticed or have their few seconds in the spotlight.

Understanding the philosophy above is half the battle or the way to uncover the “Secret” to get more sponsors and entice more people to donate.  Here is the other half – the “Art of the Ask.”

Before I tell you or describe the “Art of the Ask”, you have to recall the “Old Ways” of getting financial donations.  Sending out hundreds of mailers or by getting on the phone and cold calling a long list of possible supporters.  Then getting into a lengthy conversation with them about why you need their hard-earned money which inevitably ends up as a “Telemarketer” approach.

Recently, I saw that a friend who is very affluent attended a charity fundraiser.  Knowing he is wealthy, I asked him how much he donated to the cause, he responded was “Nothing.”  When I asked why, he said “Because no one asked us to donate.”  He further went on to say that after looking at everything they had to offer in the silent and live auction, nothing appealed to him so he didn’t bid on anything either.

The fact that no one asked to donate is a simplistic and ironic with the argument being “He should have donated on his own without being asked.”  Today, everyone wants to be appreciated and to be thanked.  When you place yourself at a higher importance than your donors, that is a sure sign you are simply out of touch.

“The Art of the Ask” – Wouldn’t you agree that this is a “What are you going to do for me” society?  Absolutely it is.  Both donors and sponsors need to know there is value in their donations.  What does value mean?  Simply put – what do they get for their donation.  That’s not a question, it’s a statement.  We have already addressed why sponsors donate funds, however we briefly touched on why people donate.

Before you burn me at the stake…yes absolutely, people donate to help the mission of your charity, you’re right.  However, from my 25 years of experience raising 100’s of millions of dollars for charities – we now know and understand the power of simply asking them for a donation.  You cannot, let me say that again…you can not just expect it, you have to work for it.

To answer your question “What should we do?” or “How do we do it?”  First you must hire a professional.  Having “Bob the Weatherman” or “Sam the local politician” who does a great job acting like an auctioneer simply won’t cut it.  If you’re getting surgery, would you ask the same people to cut into your skin?  Absolutely not.  Isn’t raising the maximum amount of funds the goal of the fundraiser? You need a professional to get this done.

Whether you hire us, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising, or you hire one of the many professional charity auctioneers across the United States, make sure you have a professional do this.  That in and of itself is the most important aspect here and the reason is, they understand the mechanics of how to ask, when to ask and how to do it successfully.

People at your fundraising event will absolutely donate – BUT – they want to be asked and they want to be placed in the spotlight when they do.  It’s called “Pea Cocking” or “Show Boating.”  You may not like that or agree, but it's reality.  They want others to see them donating and love her applause when they do.  Plus, they may want to donate to impress someone else in the crowd.  As an example, one of your board members is someone of importance in your community.  Another guest in the crowd wants to do business with them so they will make a healthy donation simply to attract the attention of your board member.

This “Ask” is also referred to as the “Fund a Need” or “Paddle Raise.”  You would be amazed at how incredibly successful this is.  We have raised as much as 1.8 million dollars at one event simply by asking.  But if you do not know what to do or how to do it, consult the advice of a professional.

The “Art of the Ask” is an art because it has to appeal to your guests and not be a “Beg” instead of an “Ask.”  Your guests can’t feel like you are putting them on the spot, they won’t react.

If we can help you understand and successfully accomplish the “Art of the Ask”, contact us at  BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is the Premier charity fundraising company in North America in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  What does a charity fundraising “One Stop Shop” mean?  We have everything you could possibly need and want all in one location, staffed by the nation’s foremost experts in charity fundraising.  Give us a call, we would love to help you.  You can reach us at 443.206.6121.  Call anytime, we are here to help you.