Saturday, July 7, 2018

Tickets will NOT be Sold at the Door

There are 100’s if not 1,000’s of mistakes charities can make which spell disaster but the most major mistake a charity can make when planning their fundraising event is to either allow people to pay at the door or to actually tell your supporters & possible guests that they can pay at the door.  Just don’t do it and here is why.

Eight years ago, while helping with a Therapeutic Program in South Carolina, I fully instructed our client on how to sell correctly and successfully sell tickets including not allowing people to say they will purchase them at the door.  Our client, let’s call her Sarah, had rented a large plantation house which also included the menu with an open bar.  During the planning process, I routinely checked in with “Sarah” and she would report that on each occasion, her guest numbers were increasing astronomically finally selling out completely.  I was very proud to hear how successful Sarah and her committee were packing the plantation.  However, here is where the story goes sideways and overturns.  About a week away, as we were preparing to go to South Carolina, Sarah called telling me that the Plantation was looking for final payment which is very routine and she asked what she was supposed to do.  I simply said “Well, write them a check from all of your ticket sales money that you put in the bank.”  She said “Uhhhh, I don’t have any money in the bank and don’t have any way of paying for it now.”
I paused, to allow what she had just said to catch up and I could derive what she
was saying.  I said “Sarah, please tell me you listened to what I was telling you, to sell tickets and deposit the money.  To not allow people to tell you they will pay at the door.”  That is when Sarah exploded “This is the south, you don’t know people here.  What they tell you is what is going to happen.  Their word is gospel.”  With my head in my hands, I knew what was going to happen.  I said “Sarah, those people are not going to come to your event, I told you to not do that, your event is going to be a disaster.  You better hurry up and collect all the promised tickets immediately.”  That is when Sarah said “I can’t believe you’re not listening, you’re fired” and promptly hung up the phone.  Needless to say, Sarah was contractually obligated to us but what made matters much much worse, she also was financially obligated to the Plantation, the decorator, a band and several others.

Several months went by and while heading to upstate New York (to help Cornell University), my phone rang.  It was her boyfriend who told me that they were no longer together while asking if I heard what happened.  Exactly what I said would happen, happened.  Out of the 450 supposed people who were paying at the door, only 18 showed up.  Sarah had to take a personal loan out to pay for the event and she was forced to close down her charity.  He said and I can hear his words now “George Sir, you were right, she should have listened to you, I’m sorry.”
Here is why telling people tickets will be sold at the door or allowing people to tell you they will pay for them at the door is a MAJOR mistake:

#1 – Caterer – The venue will ask for a head count prior to your event so that they can prepare food for the number of guests who are attending.  However, if you are selling tickets at the door or allowing people to pay you at the door, you truly don’t have an accurate count on how many people are coming.  There are two negatives to this:

a.    Your guest count is high – People do not show up at your event and too much food is prepared which you are paying for.  Eventhough you believed they were coming, the caterer will want to be paid for the amount of people they prepared food for.

    Your guest count is low – Many more people show up to the door than you had planned or paid for and the caterer did not prepare enough food.  The guests who had paid prior to the event do not get enough food which causes them to have a negative experience.

#2 – An Easy Excuse or Brush-off – A very easy way for people to give an excuse for not buying tickets is to tell you “I’ll buy them at the door.”  It’s easy since they don’t want to make you mad or look bad.  But it most certainly is a brush-off. 

#3 – Pre-selling ticket success – By only Pre-selling tickets and telling people they are not available, people will be much more apt to purchase tickets and you will have a much better chance to sell completely out since you will know what your true ticket count is.

Summary:  If people do not spend money than they have nothing to lose.  A common saying is “They have to skin in the game.”  If they didn’t pay for the tickets, they have nothing to lose.  You know yourself, you may just simply change your mind or find something else to lose.  BUT if you spent money, you are most certainly going to attend.

Please heed my warning;  NEVER EVER tell people they can pay for their tickets at the door or allow people to tell you they will buy them at the door.  You will definitely be much better off telling everyone that “Tickets will NOT be sold at the door.”

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a full service company and a North American charity fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  We can help you avoid the 100’s of pitfalls and direct you toward hosting a highly successful event.  Contact us at

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why events fail to be successful the 2nd year - Sophomoric Syndrome

There is syndrome, believe it or not, in the charity fundraising world that is symptomatic with groups or volunteers who are successful one year but not the next and here is the reason or cause why it happens -  It’s called the “Sophomoric Syndrome.”  

Wikipedia defines the “Sophomoric Syndrome” as when ones effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort.
Before we go any farther, ask yourself these questions to determine if you are suffering from the "Sophomoric Syndrome"?

#1 - Are you putting forth the same effort as you did last year?
#2 - Are you posting your event and telling everyone how incredible your event is going to be on the Social Networks such as Facebook?
#3 - Are you talking to all of your friends, the same ones you did last year?
#4 - Are you going out looking for donated items and sponsors as you did last year?
#5 - Are you attending Committee or Team meetings like you did last year?

If you answer NO to any of the above questions, than you need to see a Fundraising Doctor immediately.

A very close friend and former Regional Director of an outdoor charity, Scott Berg, told me about it years ago.  Scott has worked with 100's of volunteer committees and has seen it all while having a wealth of knowledge surrounding committees and fundraising.  What happens is simply this – Let’s say for practical purposes that a charity or group holds an event one year and they work their butts off on it.  Their event is successful (moderately or highly successful) and they sit back proud of their accomplishment.  However, the following year, they have to start over again.

Because they were successful the previous year, they believe that their previous success will allow them to coast with their next event.  They believe tickets will be sold much easier, financial donations will be much easier and getting donations will be much easier to obtain.  Furthermore, each and every team member will also think that the other members of the group will pick up their slack.   In the end, everyone on the team or group slows down.

However, the opposite is true.  Even though everyone knows the event and loved it, the team or committee still must put in the same amount of effort if not more so.   

Furthermore, if the team slows down, the possible guests will not see the same amount of effort and they will react negatively to it by not purchasing tickets.

No one is immune from the “Sophomoric Syndrome.”  However, great leaders will ensure to motivate their team or committee to strive to make their event much much better while encouraging them to get out there and put in the work.

Again, no one is immune.  This even transcends into the business world.  Successful people don’t just sit back and coast because they have reached their goals – not at all.  The opposite is true – in order to be successful, you must work hard to maintain it.  You have to put in the effort to maintain your success and work even harder to keep positive momentum flowing.

Just remember, each year, you have to put forth maximum effort to get maximum results.  Do not let boredom slip in or it will spell disaster for whatever you are trying to accomplish. 

The cure for “Sophomoric Syndrome” is – believe that every year, your event is BRAND NEW again and put the effort into it to ensure its successful.  If not, you will see a marked change when it comes to time to make a deposit into your charities bank account.

To learn more tips, tricks and fundraising success trends, follow us here, on Facebook and watch our video’s.  If we can help you, contact us at

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If you think its expensive to hire an Expert, wait till you hire an Amateur.

I say this all the time so just like everything I say, its become a part of my script.  The reason it’s became a part of my script is based upon its meaning and importance.  So here it is:

“If you had a bump on your neck with spiders crawling out of it, would you go to your mechanic or a Doctor?  If you were building a house, would you get advice from your Doctor or talk to an Architect or Contractor?  If you had serious legal issues, would you go to your Contractor?”

Obviously, the answer is No – simply No, you would seek the advice of an expert. 
However, when it comes to fundraising, we as charities commonly make the mistake of asking someone with no experience in fundraising and no understanding of it. 

Unfortunately, fundraising is not just something you “Wing” especially if your charity or organization truly needs to raise money to pay for your activities or mission.  Why place something so vitally important in the hands of someone who is not an expert?

Fortunately, there are experts across the country – Charity or Benefit Auctioneers and/or BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising which is truly the only Charity Fundraising Event planning business in the world.  BW does not plan weddings and birthday parties – we only plan fundraising events. 

If you go to an event planner, the event planner will have a background in planning birthdays, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and they are the experts in their fields.  If you’re getting married, don’t come to BW because we will look back at you with an empty look but we won’t say “Sure, we can do it.”  No, we will tell you to find a wedding planner.

Yes, a Charity Fundraising Event such as a Gala is an event – but the importance of the event is the fundraising capability and result.  Event planners look at the actual event, however, with a fundraising event, the event begins months before with ticket sales and finding financial sponsors.  There are elements inside a fundraising event in regard to the fundraising platforms that you must know and have a depth of knowledge in.  The Why’s and How’s are the most important.

In summary, if your charity truly needs to raise money – seek the help of an Expert, an Expert Fundraiser whether it’s BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or some other person or company, get the assistance of an expert – don’t leave it in the hands of an amateur. 

There is a very famous saying that is so incredibly true – “If you think an Expert is expensive, wait to you hire an amateur.”

If you, your charity or your organization needs help, please contact us at or email me at

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  BWUCF is the only full service, charity fundraising event company in the world with an extensive resume in regard to hosting highly successful charity fundraising events.  If we can help you, contacting us is free at

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How do you get above the crowd noise of charities?

Have you ever been to a stadium with screaming fans, a packed restaurant where you can barely hear or a concert with extremely loud music?  I’m sure you have.  You can’t even hear yourself talk and definitely can’t hear the person next to you. 

Well, what do you think is going on in the charity world?  Now imagine this – can you imagine being at a stadium filled to the top with standing room only and even people in the parking lot, the hallways etc. and all of them add up to 104 million people in one place.  Can you imagine that.  Now add this in – all of them are screaming at the top of the lungs – their screaming would drown out all the other screams until its an unrecognizable roar.  Now, add this, there is some Rockstar standing on the field, surrounded by millions of people and everyone is trying to get his or her attention, it would be impossible to pick out one voice.  But what does that have to do with fundraising?

These are the current statistics of the “Crowd Count” or how many charities there currently are in the United States:

Current registered U.S. Non Profits:    104 Million
Many charities have chapters:              50 Million chapters (*sub charities)
Benefit Fundraising Events:                 50 Million (**non charities)

Total rounded evenly:  200 Million charities – This ladies and gentlemen is your competition.

(* Sub charity means an entity raising money separately to give to the mother charity – NAACP, Ducks Unlimited, Chamber of Commerce etc.)

( ** Benefit Events are events held for a cause such as someone is sick and family and friends are raising money to pay hospital expenses, a house burns down, a storm hits and cause damages)

If there were 10 people involved in each charity, there would be:
2,000,000,000 = 2 Billion people

With all of these charities screaming to potential donors while other charities use their donor money to produce TV Commercials, Ads, in store donation drives etc., how in the world do you get your charity even noticed “Above the Crowd Noise”?

How to get heard above the Crowd Noise

With 200 million charities fighting to get potential donors or supporters attention, many of which are the same fighting to get the same dollar – how do you get noticed?
This is a very real life story and a charity client of ours asked.  So here is the answer whether you like it or not.

The reality of it is this.  People have become “numb” to being asked to donate or hearing this charity and that charity.  So now, they drown them out.  Every single person has their “Pet Charity” or the one they like and support and then they don’t care about the others no matter how hard you try to get their attention.  They just don’t care.

The Solution

About 50% of our clients listen to us in regard to this approach and the other half, well they don’t and their event fails because simply put – they put themselves back in the crowd noise. 

You have to accept the fact that there are other charities out there that are exactly like yours, your forcing people to pick.

So how do you get heard above the crowd noise?  You don’t get in the crowd!!!  You take a completely different approach and here it is.

What do we all have in common?  We all like to eat, well we have to, but we all like to eat, drink and have a great time with our family and friends.  We all like to go to nice places and either win stuff or just relax and have fun. 

When you are advertising or talking about your “Fundraiser”….you DO NOT refer to it as a “Fundraiser.”   When you are posting information about on the Social Networks, you DO NOT talk about your charity!!!  Now I understand that you absolutely love your charity and you do have your supporters, but the goal here is to attract NEW supporters and guests right?

In order to get above the crowd noise, you come at them from the angle of this incredible event with awesome food at a fantastic place, with great items to win, how fun its’ going to be, the live and silent auction and raffles if you plan to do them.  You take that approach.  Everyone loves a great party right?  Well, tell them about this great party you are having…not the charity.

You may disagree but the events we plan, manage and host that our clients do exactly what we tell them routinely have over 500 people there.  It’s all about building excitement, building “Hype.”

You have to use a very descriptive “WOW Factor” description when talking about your event in order to gain their attention.  Furthermore, you need to post and repost and repost over and over again.  Albert Einstein proved that people need to see something seven (7) times before they react.

Be excited, give them the WOW factor and not “It’s going to be great, good food, drinks etc.  Wanna buy a ticket?”

Follow my advise and watch what happens…success!!!

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising would love to help you plan, manage and host your next event and give it the “WOW Factor” it deserves.  Contact us at

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fundraising 101: Incorrect thinking when planning for your guests and supporters.

I just have a simple question - are you or is anyone involved in the planning of your event a "Magician" or a "Mind Reader"?

No?  Then continue reading - A major problem that occurs when charities or their planners are planning their event is simply this – they think for themselves and not for their guests.  Perhaps, this is the WORST practice that anyone could ever do. 

Let me give you an example – Charities often plan events with a theme and as an example, lets say it has a “James Bond 007” theme.  Here is where the problems begin:

#1 – They chose a menu which matches the theme.
#2 – They contact us and ask for James Bond items.
#3 – They ask their guests to dress within the theme.

Now from the outset, it seems like a very interesting theme however, the reality is simply this which most planners seem to forget – Just because there is a theme, people still like what they like and all people are generally the same. 

When planning your event, you have to think for your guests and not for what you like.  This is a common problem and devastating to the end result.

Let’s say planners are planning a “German” themed event.  They want a German menu, German drinks and then will inevitably want German themed items on their auctions along with German music.  They may even have it in a German venue.  So here are questions to ask yourself:

#1 – Will your guests like this?
#2 – Will your guests like the menu?
#3 – Will they like the music?
#4 – Will they bid on German themed items?
#5 – Will they like the venue?

The reality is simply this again – everyone enjoys the same things – good food, good music or entertainment and of course, exciting items to bid on.

Since we are an auction item provider to well over 1,400 charities a year – we are well aware of what people like…because of all the mistakes we have made in the past.  We have planned many events with many different menus’ – both plated and buffet in many different venues.

In every crowd, here is a common theme – keep in mind, people are the same in Maryland as they are in Texas, in Florida, in California, in Alaska, in Michigan and in Boston. 

#1 – Everyone enjoys a very nice venue.
#2 – Everyone enjoys great food and plenty of it.
#3 – Everyone likes good drinks.
#4 – Everyone likes to be entertained and most commonly, they enjoy a wide array of music types – that is why I normally suggest a DJ.
#5 – In every single crowd, there are people who like Sports, Jewelry, exciting d├ęcor and Vacation Packages.
#6 – Everyone enjoys a well-planned event.

When you insist that your guest like what you do, you will lose every single time.  Try to think for the masses and not for yourself or your group.  Don’t insist they like what you do or make them like it.

Here is another issue which I always advise my clients and vitally important when planning your event.  The two most important aspects to understand that ensures your event is a success – the Venue & the Menu.

You can’t argue with me, this is a “What will you do for me” society.  The Venue is VITALLY important to the success of your event.  No one wants to go to a place that is “Less than.” 

A common mistake which if you think about it, makes ZERO sense is that if a charity hosts an event at a “Lesser or Cheaper” venue and don’t spend much on food or services, they will make more profit.  This is the exact opposite of what is reality.  Here is why but I want you to ask your husband or wife:

#1 – If you had the choice – would you go to the American Legion or Ruth Chris Steakhouse for dinner?

Do I need to give you the answer?  Everyone wants to go to a nice place, get dressed up and have a great time.  Going the “Cheaper Way” will give you a less than successful event.  You can’t mark up your ticket prices at a less than venue - your guests know what they should be paying and will be angered by paying a high price for a "Less than" menu - and that will immediately hurt your profit or fundraising success - believe me.

The venue is key but you have to grasp and understand “You have to spend money to make money” – The venue and menu is the bate to come to your event. 

In closing, when you are planning your event, don’t think about yourself, what you like and what you want…think about what your guests and supporters would enjoy.  Also, remember, the venue is 100% important  to the success of your event – “You have to spend money to make money.”  Ask yourself this:

#1 – If you were having legal problems – would you want the best attorney or some guy up the street to represent you?

#2 – If you had medical issues – would you want your mechanic neighbor giving you medical advise?

If not, why then do charities place people in charge of planning their fundraisers who have absolutely no experience?

If we can help you plan an event that will attract many more supporters and give your guests the event they will love, contact us at

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  While helping over 1,400 charities a year, we are only charity fundraisers and don’t do anything else such as real estate auctions, plan weddings or bar mitzvah’s…we are only charity fundaisers and are the absolute experts in the field across the country.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"You gotta spend money to make money"

As I begin to write this, I have to remind myself to stay as respectful as possible.  However, as my blood begins to boil and my head hits my hands, I asked myself “Why do charities think and do business the way they do?”  Or “Why don’t the people who work for charities and are planning fundraisers think like normal business men and women?”  You would think by now, that charities or fundraisers would already understand this important fact but obviously they still think opposite of what is true.  As it seems, charity fundraising is the only place where people believe that uneducated people, non-professionals are adequate for this endeavor.

The reason I am saying this is something that I deal with on a constant basis.  Nearly every single day, I am confronted with someone who works with or for a charity who believes they know how to effectively and successfully raise money.  Then, when I hear just how much money they raised, I only sit back and shake my head. 

“Why don’t they ask for help?”  “Why don’t they want to hire someone who understands what is needed?”  “Why don’t they use common sense?” 

Just this morning, I received a call from a charity looking for help with items for their event.  Obviously, I told them that would be easy and we could help them with everything they could possibly want and more.  But then I asked if they were having a Live Auction.  The person on the other side of the phone said “Yes and we are having Bid-Pal.”  So, of course I asked “Do you have an auctioneer?” 

This is where I nearly fell out of my chair – the answer was “No, we can’t afford it.”  So, hold on, you can afford Bid Pal which will not make you a dime, it just makes bidding easier but when it comes to having someone, a professional who is incredibly crucial in your fundraising success, you can’t afford that.  I attempted to explain but she just wouldn’t listen. 

Ladies & Gentlemen – it’s now 2018.  Fundraising has changed drastically.  Are you an educated fundraiser?  Do you know what the difference between success and failure?  Do you know how much money you should raise and how to raise it?  If you don’t, you need to consult with a professional. 

Successful fundraising is crucial to your survival.  Having someone stand up in front of everyone and “Act” like an auctioneer is like asking your mechanic to take out your Appendix.  You would never let someone perform something very important for you if they weren’t a professional!!! 

Why in the charity fundraising world is this simple thought completely backward to how charities plan and conduct their fundraising business?

Anyone planning a charity fundraiser should understand that there are 104 Million charities in the United States.  The beginning – the absolute beginning of successful fundraising is $100.00 Net per guest.  That means if you have 300 people, you should at the very least profit $30,000.00.  Do you or have you even hit that mark?  Don’t lie to yourself….did you hit it or at the very least get within a few hundred dollars of it?  The last place you should scrimp is in the planning and execution of your fundraising event. 

As with most charities, people are asked once a year to plan a fundraiser.  Normally, they just repeat what happened last year without knowing last year’s result.  Or they copy one they attended previously without knowing their result either.

Please heed my advice – whether it be BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising or one of the many incredible Charity Auctioneers across our great nation such as Renee Jones, Jeff Manning or Shelly St. John,  etc. - please hire a professional please.

As professional fundraisers, we want your event to be incredibly successful for you and your charity.  Plus we also want to have the ability to help you make it successful. 

We, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising, study successful fundraising 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  What you may think is successful or might be successful maybe exactly opposite of what is successful. 

Have you ever heard the term “You gotta spend money to make money”?  Well, that statement is so true – it’s the difference between a windfall of fundraising dollars raised and a yard sale.

We would love to help you plan, manage and host an incredibly successful, highly profitable fundraiser.  Go to our website and contact us, we would love to meet with you and discuss how we can help.  Go to