Monday, December 27, 2021

What is "Broken Spoke Fundraising"? - George Wooden, BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising


Years and years ago, as our country grew, people began settling in various locations across this great country of ours.  As these locations grew, so did the need to build towns, cities and states.  Construction was a booming business and as time went by, new innovative building techniques arose.  Small houses changed to sky scrapers, outhouses changed to indoor plumbing and it goes on and on. 

Today, technology changes daily and what was innovative today, tomorrow will be outdated.  Building techniques and requirements now demand precision and laws around it have turned into Rules and Regulations in regard to Building Codes and permits. 

When pagers were the new hot item with a car phone in a bag for your car, has now turned into everyone carrying a computer the size of a small card in their pockets – everything worldwide is right at our fingertips.

However, the same is not true in the charity fundraising world.  Many charities or non-profits have not kept up with the times.  They still operate decades behind with outdated information and the reason is, there is no set of rules other than what the IRS publishes.  There is no source of information that charities can go to in order to learn what’s new and innovative.  There isn’t a Rule Book or Standard Charity Code.  There is nothing for a charity to go to other than the tried and true “Error of our ways” or studying and learning from our mistakes.

There is a common term which I use quite frequently called “Broken Spoke” fundraising.  What does this mean?  Well, it’s when a charity copies or duplicates another charity’s fundraising event without knowing if the fundraiser they are copying was successful or not.  They then repeat it but miss something the other charity did (a broken spoke) and their event fails or the result is even less successful.  But yet, they will not go back and study it to see where they went wrong. 

In my area of expertise, Fundraising, successful methods change day to day.  Plus doing it day in and day out, while speaking to my counterparts across the country teaches me and our staff on what’s “Hot” and what’s not.  Making a thousand mistakes but studying them and adopting new tactics and techniques offers our clients the ability to be at the forefront of a successful fundraising wave.

As an example, I recently met with a charity who has a large group of supporters is planning a fundraiser in the coming months.  When I asked them what their “Net Profits” were, it was dismally low – nearly not worth even doing the fundraiser.  Being inquisitive, I asked them what they were doing at the event to raise money.  That is when they described 1970’s fundraising methods which are so outdated and ran into the ground plus it costs them 50% of the funds they are raising.  Why you ask?  Because they simply do not know any better.

In reality, charities are made up of people.  These people are not fundraisers and live a full-time life, have a full-time job, with full time commitments and a full-time family – however at least once a year, they are asked to fundraise.  When fundraising is simply the single most important aspect a charity must do outside of their missions, they appoint someone with no fundraising background to hold the single most important aspect function of their charity.

The other issue which is prominent still, which is one of those “Old Rules” or a charity myth that can easily be dispelled is that everything must be “FREE.”  The evidence of success is all around them with large scale, multimillion-dollar fundraisers happening frequently.  However, they refuse to follow those successful tactics.

Along with the “Free” approach, many charities believe that being 100% volunteer is a badge of honor.  However, what they fail to understand is that in order to grow, you must have a full-time staff.  With a full-time staff who are salaried, you are able to attract the best and brightest who can take your charity to new heights. 

What’s the moral to this story – you must change with the times.  You must follow techniques and tactics that other much more successful charities are doing.  You must know what “Success” is and acknowledge what “failure” also is.  You must be your very worst critic in order to grow.  Learn from your mistakes, talk to professionals who know the correct paths you need to follow.

You must learn from success; you must learn from your mistakes and your must want to get better while attracting the people who can help you make that happen. 

If not, you know the old saying “The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over but expecting different results.”  It’s simply up to you.

If you would like more information or if I can help you in any way, please contact us at or call me directly at 443.206.6121.  We would love to help you.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Your Fundraising Well will run dry if you don't heed this warning!!!

I’ve seen it time and time again.  I’ve warned them, shouted it from the rooftops and watched as the stream of money from the fundraising well slowed to a trickle then stopped – the well ran dry.  I've watched as my clients continue to ask for money even after they hosted a highly successful fundraiser.  They believe that people will continue to give. 

Before I begin, let me ask you a simple question:

Lets say a friend asked to borrow $20.00, you give it to them because you want to help them.  A week or so goes by and the friend returns asking for another $20.00.  You oblige them yet again.  The following week or so, they come back and ask again.  Are you going to give it to them?  Are you going to ask what they are doing with your money?  What will you do?  I can guarantee you won’t give it to them this time around.

Everyone in the world would do the same – BUT – why don’t charities think like this? 


Just as if you are getting water from a well and not giving it enough time to replenish itself, the same holds true with fundraising.  The more you ask for money and the more fundraisers you host, soon your well will run dry.

First you must understand that people are getting absolutely “BOMBARDED” by charities, not just yours, asking for money.  As it seems, everywhere you go charities are asking you donate to them.  Some have huge budgets so they can spend an enormous amount of money trying to raise money.  But unfortunately, that’s not you or your charity.

I’ve seen clients and friends go to the fundraising well over and over again.  I’ve told them, I’ve warned them “Only host a few fundraisers a year – host an “A” event and a “B” event and that’s it” – but they don’t listen.

What happens is their ego gets pumped up and they begin to think that every time they host a fundraiser, it’s going to be successful…they are wrong. 

The more you ask, the less you will get.  It will become harder and harder to raise money.  More is not better, it’s less.  Charities or organizations should invest their time wisely in one or two major fundraisers then leave it sit.  Put all your energy into raising as much money as possible with those events.  But by all means, DO NOT continue to go to the fundraising well over and over and over again. 

People will get tired of you and your charity asking for money, in fact, you will inevitably push them away from you because you’re always trying to reach into their pockets.


My best advice I can give you is that you do not let your ego get in the way – think clearly and remember how you would react if someone or a charity came to you over and over again asking for money. 

Continue to go to the well, soon it will run dry…then you only can blame yourself if your fundraising well runs dry.

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American Charity Fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  Contact us at  

Monday, May 24, 2021

With every single fundraising event which has tickets to attend, the same question pops up time and time again - should you “Comp” or give someone free tickets to attend?  This “Myth vs. Facts” blog hopefully will answer your questions.

 Here are a few things for you to consider when contemplating “Comping” tickets:

#1 – There is really no such thing as “Free Tickets” – Someone somewhere will actually be paying for those free tickets.  If you have costs with your event, those costs will have to be covered.  Normally, the costs are covered by ticket sales.  However, if you are giving away tickets, who is going to pay for the tickets you gave away?

#2 – Free Tickets to someone who donates an item or items – You may ask someone for a donation of an item or items for you auction or raffles.  As an example – the price of your ticket is $75.00 per person with your actual cost (which you have to pay out for food etc.) is $50.00.  The donor will give you and item which “Retails” for $150.00 and requests 2 free tickets.  So in this instance, it appears that you will be profiting $50.00.  Since you can not control what an item sells for in an auction, you place the item in your auction and it only sells for $75.00 instead of $150.00…you just lost $25.00.  This is what is referred to as an “In Kind” donation – someone gives you something and “In Kind” you give them something. 

#3 – “No Skin in the Game” – When people pay for tickets, they will attend your event because they spent money.  However, if you give someone free tickets, they have nothing invested so there is really nothing promising they will attend.  The day of your event, something comes up, they may not attend since they spent nothing on the tickets.  You are then left with paying for the spots and also empty seats. 

#4 – They will spend money at the event to cover the cost of the free tickets – There is absolutely no proof this will or does occur, this is a Myth.  Consider this – if you need to give someone free tickets to attend, should you have them at your event in the first place?  If they wanted to come and support you, they would most definitely buy tickets.  But they need free tickets to show their support such as politicians, athletes and celebrities…or simply people you know.  You can ask them to spend money there but you can’t force them. 

#5 – Is taking people to a party a part of the mission of your charity? – This is a common practice in certain arenas to give away free tickets to the people who a charities mission involves.  For instance, I (George Wooden) am a US Marine Corps Veteran and a retired Police Officer.  Charities who serve veterans and first responders normally help with mental health, medical needs, doctor bills etc., but their mission is not to take these heroes to a party.   If a charity who helps either veterans or first responders gives away free tickets to them to attend a fundraiser, even if someone else buys tickets to give to them, would it not be a better practice to use that donated money for the mission of the charity to help them and sell those tickets to supporters who will donate to help raise more money?

Remember, think of your mission first and why you are hosting a fundraiser.  Aren’t you trying to raise money?  Also, there is no such thing as a free ticket – someone will have to pay for that person to attend and more times than not, it’s your charity.  You’re far better off raising money to fund the mission of your charity. 

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American charity fundraising leader in a convenient “One Shop” setting.  We help charities like yours all across the country host highly profitable fundraisers from coast to coast.  If we can help you, contact us at 443.206.6121 or go to our website at


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Common Mistake: How big is your fundraising cake?

A common mistake most people planning a charity fundraiser make is not understanding the need and definite positive impact a professional fundraiser will have on the amount of money they raise.

In fact, commonly, they will think to themselves or friends/family will say “Why would we pay that?  We don’t want to give them a portion of what we make” as if they are talking about a cake.  They believe that if they plan and host their own fundraiser, it will be the same size and make just as much as if they had professional help.  Think of it as if they are talking about a cake.  They believe that they will be have to give a section of their cake away.

However, what they fail to realize is how big is the cake they are believing they have?  Without the help of a professional fundraiser or auctioneer, their cake is small like a tiny cupcake.  They believe they will have to give a section of that away.  That then will leave less for them.

But in reality, when they hire or have the assistance of a professional fundraiser or auctioneer, the cake grows dramatically.  So much so that the original cake or cupcake is merely a crumb in comparison.  With the growth of the cake or the amount of fundraising dollars, paying the professional fundraiser makes sense because the goal is to raise as much money as possible.

The mistake they commonly forget is that they are living a full-time life, with a full time job, with a full time family and full time commitments – then they are asked to be fundraisers without a clue how to truly fundraise.

The time commitment alone is daunting then getting everything together will exhaust anyone.  Plus locating the correct venue to host it in is vitally important as well.  Are you prepared to work full time in order to be successful?  If not, why are you doing it then? 

Of course, anyone can fundraise just like anyone can dance – but thinking the way that these potential fundraisers do…are they Prima Ballerinas?  No not at all.  They don’t realize successful fundraising is extremely strategic, deals with psychology coupled with event planning.  A professional fundraiser or charity auctioneer must keep track of fundraising trends and techniques which are changing rapidly.  They must understand the flow of the venue they are hosting their event in.  Where and how to set up the event in order to be effective. 

This has happened to us on many occasions – people will attend one of our events while videoing our Live and Silent Auction along with the raffles.  True, anyone can put items out on a table and sell them.  But do they understand why those items are there as opposed to somewhere else?  Why are they set up that way, what is the goal of the fundraising platform they are set up in or at.  There are hundreds of small fundraising cogs moving in perfect harmony to make the final event a success.

So the next time you think “Why would I want to give him or her a piece of our fundraising cake” ask yourself… “How big is your cake” – is it a cupcake or a massive sheet cake?

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American charity fundraising leader in a convenient “One Stop Shop” setting.  We specialize in making our clients lives easier by planning it, managing their committees and hosting an event like no one has ever seen before that will raise more money than they could ever expect.  Contact us today at 443.206.6121.

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, we would love to help you and your charity.