If you are looking for a way to generate a large amount of revenue for a specific need, a Fund-A-Need (FAN) campaign is an excellent option.
But how do you organize it successfully? Benefit auction strategist Mark Schroeder joined us for our recent webinar, 7 Essentials to Fund-a-Need Success with Auction Brio LLC, and offered some sage advice on how to run a profitable Fund-A-Need auction.
Spend considerable time planning your Fund-A-Need campaign. There’s no other event in which you can collect so much money from so many people in just 20 minutes. It’s the most important event of your auction.
How do you connect your audience with your need so they’re inspired to give generously? Hire a professional video producer and create an inspirational video. Find someone who can present a powerful setup to the video. Know your audience and work with your auctioneer to set appropriate giving levels. Your hard work will pay off when your supporters understand what impact their contributions can have.
Your Fund-A-Need should take about 20 minutes to complete, from the lead-in to collecting the donations. Where you place the FAN within the auction, however, depends on your circumstances. Here are a few things to consider:
- If you hold the Fund-A-Need first, people will tend to hold onto their money to see what they can win in the live auction. If they don’t win anything, that money walks out the door at the end of the evening.
- Starting out with the Fund-A-Need at high giving levels, tends to shock the auction and people hold back in their giving. But if you start with the live auction, it provides a warm-up period that helps people get used to hearing high numbers.
- If you have a lot of live auction items (10-16), you don’t want to hold the Fund-A-Need at the end—people will tire out.
- A good rule of thumb is to start with five live auction items, then hold the Fund-A-Need. That way you’re catching people at the peak of their energy.
How do you present your need to your supporters? A good Fund-A-Need has three parts:
- Big setup— In 90 seconds, explain your need and get your audience ready for the video. Choose someone who knows your crowd and can connect with them. Tell them what their past donations achieved. Then present your current need. Make sure they understand what their money will accomplish. Choose a presenter who won’t steal the show, but who will succinctly and powerfully describe the impact you can all have together.
- Video—Cut the lights and roll your 3-minute, professionally-produced video. This is where you tell your story. This is where you show your donors what their money can accomplish. This is what energizes people to give.
- The Ask—Swiftly turn the auction over to your professional benefit auctioneer to start asking for donations at the various giving levels.
The Ask takes some planning too. Get to know your audience. What is the starting level that fits your particular group of donors? You want to start the giving at a level that is a bit of a stretch, yet still within their means. If you start $5000 or $2500 higher than last year, you’ll probably be surprised that someone will reach that high and donate, if they’ve been inspired by your Fund-A-Need video.
Offer more giving levels rather than just a few. Don’t rush through it with just five giving levels. You may have people who can give at $3500, but if you jump from $5000 to $2000, you’ve lost that money. Consider breaking it down into smaller increments. Give people an opportunity to give at odd giving levels—it happens!
Track all donations on a tracking sheet or through electronic bidding. Greater Giving’s tools make this really easy. Make sure to collect all donations that night. You don’t want any “donate and ditch” donors.
With a well-designed plan, your Fund-A-Need should bring in considerable revenue. As with the auction in general, you want to make it lively. Ride the wave of an empowering video. Make sure people understand what they’re helping you achieve. Encourage your volunteers and staff to cheer on your donors. Your efforts will be rewarded.
What’s Your Experience?
What have you learned about organizing Fund-A-Need campaigns? What advice would you give to someone planning their first Fund-A-Need? Are there things you’d do differently next year? Share your insights in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.