Saturday, March 25, 2017

CONTROVERSIAL: The "Snowflake Approach" to fundraising

WARNING:  If you are offended easy, stop reading now.  As you see, there is a lot of content below.  Stop reading if your feelings get hurt easy.  You’ve been warned.  By the way, if this Blog offends you, I really don't care.  Feel free to comment about how nasty I am, or use the word that most people do, that I'm "Abrasive" - I won't be offended.

No lie, literally, I just received a phone call and could not stop laughing.  It totally made my week.  This is a TRUE story, but the names are changed to protect the innocent parties lol.  But here it is.

Last year, I worked with a charity who had never done a fundraiser before.  Now, knowing me, do you think I walked softly through our meetings and used a soft tone of voice or was I me?  You remember me don’t you?  The retired State Trooper, former Undercover Narcotics Detective, 6 foot 5 former Marine and notably the best fundraiser in North America – yes I said it.

So the phone call goes like this “Hey I just wanted to call you and tell you why my charity isn’t hiring you this year.”  Of course I said “Okay, why?”  The caller, lets call him Steve said “Well let me tell you about the meeting we just had.  The person who is now in charge of doing our fundraiser actually said and I quote….I don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt so if you don’t mind helping us, we would really appreciate it.  We aren’t telling you to sell tickets or demanding you do but if you don’t mind, would you please help us sell some tickets.  If you have something to say, because we don’t want your feelings to get hurt, we want you to speak up because it’s very important that you’re feelings aren’t hurt.” 

That is when I fell out of my chair in total laughter.  I dropped my phone while falling and could hear “Steven” laughing as well.  I picked up the phone and he said “And that is when I walked out of the room.”  I was speechless – are you kidding me? 

Now look to the left at my picture, do I look like a guy who cares if I offended your feelings or if I care that the way I talk is abrasive?    

Because I am a "Take Charge" kind of guy, I don't mince words and I'm extremely direct, my direct approach is not and how do I say "Loved by all."  I have no room or time to hand hold.  You hired me to raise a ton of money for your charity, so lets get it done and here is how we are going to do it.  I can't just shake off 20 years as a State Trooper to suddenly be someone's babysitter.  That's not me...eventhough some people have tried to teach me a "Kinder, Gentler Approach."

But then this is what the world has came too.  Political correctness, which you already know I am not, has taken hold into every facet of our world, now to include fundraising.

Now lets take this in direct contrast of a charity I just met with –which I don’t have to mince words or change names.  I work with A LOT of police agencies and Law Enforcement foundations.  These guys and girls could care less that you what you say, in fact, if  you don’t drop the “F” bomb every once in awhile, they will think you’re weird. 

They are take control kind of people, do as they are told and follow orders.  Let’s take as an example Chris Heslop or as I call him “Mr. Happy.”  Chris is the President of the Police K9 Association and without a doubt, does not mince words.  He says whats on his mind and is very course in the way he says it – I love it!!!  Jen Krauss from the Prince George’s County Police K9 Section – she tells it like it is and will tell you to go “F” yourself if she doesn’t like what you have to say.  But then these two have hosted incredibly successful fundraising events.

So as I’m wiping the tears away from my eyes from laughing so hard, I told “Steven” that I was going to write this Blog and title it “The Snowflake Approach” and he please do.

When planning a fundraising event that you want to be successful, the very last thing you want are people on your committee who need a participation trophy when your event fails.  You don’t need people around who get their feelings hurt if you say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing – you need people who are go-getters!!!  People who are not afraid to walk up to someone and say “Buy tickets.”  Snowflakes are people who will be absolutely worthless to you and your committee and in the end, your fundraising event.  They won’t sell tickets to come, they surely won’t get donations because they don’t have the “Guts” to walk in and ask for donations.  You need people the exact opposite. 

Now it all makes sense.  Now I know why it was like trying to climb Mount Everest backward carrying a 1,000 lbs. on my back planning their fundraiser.  Remember, in order to be successful at anything in life, you have to GO AFTER IT!!!  In order to host a successful fundraising event, you can not be afraid to hurt anyone's feelings, you can not be a snowflake. If you are, you’re in the wrong game. 

Do you think anyone who ever became very rich or successful was a snowflake?  Doubt it.  Now that I’m thinking about it, every single event that we have done that was highly successful, none of them were ran by snowflake type people.

In order to be successful, you must have people who are Type A.  Who are not afraid to talk to everyone and anyone.   Non-negative, Positive from beginning to end people who will kill themselves nearly to ensure that you are successful. 

If you would like to learn more on how to grow a successful charity fundraising committee, contact us at 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Charity Fundraising 101: What does it mean?

Before I start, you should know and I’ll admit, a very long time ago – I could care less about sports.  Seriously, I was a fair weather fan and didn’t watch any of it.  But, since I started in the business and had to get to know what I was talking about or when someone was talking to me, I quickly learned everything I needed to know.  Shortly thereafter, I started being very interested in all sports. 

But when it comes to authentic autographs, I had to learn a few “Secrets” that no one else did.  So I thought I would share them with you.  So here they are:

How do we acquire autographs? 

Simply put, we pay athletes to sign their name.  No, we don’t stand outside the stadium or a locker room or over the dug out and ask for autographs, they are paid and paid very well to come and do an autograph signing.  In fact, this is something you should especially understand, if one company is the only company in the world offering certain items that no one else has, they are definitely counterfeit – Charity world, take note.  Why are there only two (2) companies in the charity fundraising field who offer autographed guitars, signed movie posters, signed drumheads etc.?  When a REAL autograph signing occurs, everyone is alerted across the country – and companies get in.

What does Inscribed or an Inscription mean?

Athletes or whoever is signing anything are paid once price for their actual “Autograph.”  But if they write anything else, that is an extra charge – making the price of the item go even higher.  For instance, on the baseball signed by Pete Rose to the right, the sentence "I'm Sorry I bet on Baseball" is an inscription.  Inscriptions are like an extra added bonus normally detailing awards or records, for instance, here are a few you will commonly see:

“HOF” – Hall of Fame
“HT” – Heisman Trophy Winner
“MVP” – Most Valuable Player
“SB MVP” – Super Bowl Most Valuable Player
“CHOF” – Collage Hall of Fame
“HR 500” – Home Runs 500
“CY” – Cy Young Award Winner

What types of items are there?

Items range from Pro-Line “On Field” Helmets meaning the same type of helmet worn on the Field, to actual Game Worn helmets/Jerseys etc.   Then there are Full Size Helmets (aka Replica Helmets).  These Helmets, in my opinion, are the best because they are much cheaper than a “Pro-Line” Helmet.  They look exactly the same when sitting on a shelf or a desk.  True collectors want Pro-Line’s.  Then there are real Nike or Reebok Jerseys – these Jerseys are intrinsically expensive so having one autographed is that much higher in price.  However, there are Custom Jerseys which appear to look exactly like a real Jersey however there are no insignia’s of the NFL or Nike/Reebok making them much cheaper.

What is an Authentic Authenticator?

In my professional opinion, there are only a few REAL Authenticators in the world.  Or companies which authenticate their own items but these companies are highly reputable. 

You should also understand in the real world of Sports Autographs, these two companies are the absolute “STANDARD” and widely accepted.  There are no other Authenticators which true collectors will accept. 

The only two Authentic Authenticators, in my opinion are:

JSA – James Spence Authenticators -

A Letter's of Authenticity are guaranteed to be accepted by all collectors, dealers, and auction houses worldwide, or your submission fee will be reimbursed.  JSA is an eBay approved autograph authenticator.  Increased value and a confident buyer for faster sale of autographed memorabilia.  JSA's extensive autograph exemplar database is second to none in the autograph industry.  Peace of mind that your memorabilia is deemed authentic and ready to be sold, passed along to a family member, or cherished forever.  Secure, virtually impossible to replicate proprietary watermark JSA Letter of Authenticity with corresponding high-resolution image and a unique alpha-numeric certification sticker.    Quick and simple online confirmation of your JSA certification number.  All JSA Letters of Authenticity are fully transferable without resubmission.  JSA's services are utilized by more major auction houses than any other autograph authentication company in the world including:


PSA/DNA is the world’s leading third-party authentication service for autographs and authenticates signatures from the worlds of sports, history and entertainment.   Our experts have a diverse knowledge base that is complemented by proprietary methods and technology to form the following four-step authentication process.  PSA/DNA experts conduct ink analysis, autograph structure analysis, object evaluation and side-by-side comparisons.  Experts may also use a video spectral comparator to further evaluate the autograph.  Once the autograph is deemed genuine, the item is marked with invisible ink that contains a synthetic DNA sequence specific to PSA/DNA. A unique, serialized label is also provided.  Either a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) or a Letter of Authenticity (LOA) is issued with the genuine autograph. The document contains the same alphanumeric serial number to match the label on the item.  The certified autograph can be verified publically using our online Certification Verification webpage or mobile application.

Companies that authenticate their own items but are highly respected and their items are certified to be authentic:

Steiner Sports

To read about BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising's extensive Authentication Policy, go to

I hope this explains just a few of the terms used when reading our catalogs.  Knowing is much better than not knowing.  BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is the only Charity Fundraising auction item provider that continually provides absolutely 100% authentic, authenticated items by the world autograph experts.  If BWUCF doesn’t carry it and others do, most likely those items are counterfeit.  If we could help you with your next charity auction, contact us at

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Charity Fundraising 101 - The Secret to getting donations - the "Art of the Ask"

Over the years, I have seen some things that have me scratching my head in regard to donations but the one thing that always leaves me speechless, is when charities don’t go after donations or only have very few.

So that everyone is aware, when I say “Donations”, I am referring to items such as Gift Certificates, Gift Baskets, Liquor, Coffee Makers, Services, etc.

Do you remember the famous line from “Field of Dreams – Build it and they will come?”  Well the same thing with donations “Ask and they will give to you.”

Lets take for instance, the Queens of Donations – Lt. Jennifer Krauss and Cpl. Julie Valdes (pictured to the left) from the Prince George’s County Police Department.  Last year, Jen, Julie and I sat down and I started telling them about how to seek and get donations.  Now, remember, they are no different from you who is reading this.  Just because they are Police Officers, does not mean they showed up in uniform and businesses gave because of that.  No, it’s because  THEY ASKED!!!  You would not believe the amount of donations they received – absolute TONS!!!  Everything from a Zero turn Mower, to Wine Tours, Gift Baskets, Guns etc.  They had everything you can possibly imagine and their guests LOVED IT!!!  Jen told me she was addicted to asking and it became so much fun.  Do like they do and ASK!!!    

Here is the trick or the Secret to getting tons, and I mean TONS of donations – Just Ask.  Ask everyone!!!  I use to make a joke when meeting with my clients saying “Ok everyone, write this down, here is the list of what donations we want”…everyone would get ready to write and then I would say “Large or small, we will take it all!!!” 

Go after them – go everywhere and anywhere.  Ask everyone.  The secret to getting a million donations is to get over the fear of failure.  Get over the fear of asking….that’s simply it.  Okay – you will hear No.  You will hear “Well, we need to send it to our Cooperate Office.”  But keep on pushing.  Another thing, when you walk into a business, know what you want them to give you or what you want and ask for it. 

Now – as a side bar, to educate you more – donations are fantastic and yes they are 100% free, however, they are best served in raffles at your event.  In silent or Live Auctions, they normally bring 1/2 if not less than retail but in raffles, they bring 10 times retail. 

Ok – so here is what you simply need to know prior to going out on a treasure hunt.

#1 – Be prepared with a Donation request letter, have one in hand.  It should have the Tax ID # otherwise known as the “EIN” at the top of the letter.

#2 – Have the event Flyer with you and also invite the people you are asking if they would like to come.

NOTE:  If they ask you for free tickets that equal their donation, say “No Thank you.”  Because if the tickets are worth $100.00 and their items only sell for $50, you lose.

#3 – Understand that yes, your charity is awesome, however they have probably been asked 100 times that week – the key is to tell them how many people are planning to be at your event – its ALL ABOUT MARKETING!!!

#4 – Yes, a donation is tax deductible but in reality, business can only deduct so much each year – that’s a falsehood to say “Well its tax deductible.”  That won’t sell them.

#5 – Remember, bigger is always better.  If you go into a store which has large items, ask for a large item.  Always ask for more. 

#6 – Marketing – Understand that 90% of the businesses you approach will be much more interested in the marketing side than the charity side, tell them they will be listed in the Event Program.  They can also provide you a “Banner” which will be displayed inside the event for everyone to see.

#7 – Ask them to post the event flyer in their business.  Ask them if they would like to buy tickets or a table so that everyone can meet them. 

#8 – Gift Baskets – Gift Baskets should be constructed LARGE, not small.   But even if someone gives you a small basket, take it. 

So the Trick is - THERE IS NO TRICK!!!  Just ASK!!!

So here is a script for you to use, has always worked for me

PREFACE – Inside my car, I have a stack of Donation Letters and Event Flyers so that everywhere I stop, I’m prepared.

So lets say I’m going to Home Depot or Lowes (HINT) and I would like to get a Grill Donated or a Fire Pit (HINT), I walk in and go right to the Service Desk and ask for the Store Manager.  Don’t talk to just anyone, talk to the person in charge.

When they walk up, reach out and shake their hand and say “Hi, I’m (Your Name) and I’m from the (Charity).  We are hosting a huge event on (date) and we are getting local businesses to donate.”  Immediately hand them the donation letter and the flyer – and here begins your “Schpeel.”  We would love it if you guys could donate a Grill or whatever.   There is going to be 800 people at our event and everyone will see that you guys donated.  In fact, we will list you everywhere and if you have a banner, we would love to hang it up for the world to see.” (KEEP TALKING as they look at the letter and the flyer).  “You guys should come too. “

Then wait for their response.  If they say well what do you want, tell them and go look and pick out something – ALWAYS GO BIG.

The secret is, get over asking.  You have to be confident in what your saying.  Tell them about the event, how big it is, how many guests and that your event is going to have a Live and Silent Auction and tons of raffles. 

Be excited about it.  If they say no, say thank you and move on.  Now, here is another little trick.  Do you know when you go to a chain restaurant and something is wrong with your food..its lates, cold, or there is a finger in your soup.  The manager walks over and hands you gift certificate and says “I’m so sorry, I hope this helps.”  The managers have a pocket full of them – ASK!!!!

Ask everybody!!!  Ask Liquor Stores, Beer Distributors, Starbucks etc.  If you have a friend who is a landscaper, ask if they will donate services like a Spring Cleaning of someones yard or mulch installation.  If you know a Power Wash company, ask if they will donate a house power washing. 

Now here is something else that is VERY crucial to your success.  Guess who NEVER gets asked to donate?  Professionals such as consultants, banks, Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Real Estate Agents etc.  Professionals who don’t have anything to donate!!! 

Get a catalog of our items – BW Unlimited Charity Auction Items and ask them to “Underwrite” or Sponsor an item or items.  All they can say is No!!!  If they do, they pick out the item they want to “Underwrite” and we set up a tent card in front of the items saying “Sponsored by ABC Realty, 1234 Smith Street, Smith, Texas.”  And  then list them in the Catalog as well.

Now lets move on to a much harder donation – Sponsors.  For your event, especially if it’s a BW Unlimited managed event, you will have a Sponsor Page.  This is a more personal donation.  This takes a sit down meeting with people who are close to you or your charity.  Now, the best people to ask for these are the businesses you pay routinely – who your charity or you buy from, who does your taxes, who is your lawyer, your trash service, your outside lawn maintenance etc.  Also remember, sell them tables too.

So in summary, it’s all about asking.  The more times you ask, the more you will receive.  Be confident, energetic and fun.  Make it a game with your committee, who can get the most donations. 

If you have any questions, contact BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising at   To receive our catalogs of items, simply contact us and ask for our catalogs, we would love to send you them.