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Avoid these Six Fundraising Faux Pas

December 03, 2013
Even the best event organizers can use a refresher course on ways to perfect their next fundraiser! Take a look at these potential planning “hiccups” and make sure to take steps to overcome or correct them.

1. Not knowing your audience – As you plan your fundraising auction and, ask yourself who your attendees are. This will help establish everything from the décor to the dining as well as the all-important (most important) auction items you are presenting. Work with your board and consult a travel expert like Mitch-Stuart Inc. to select packages that are a win for your audience based on age, average income, level of sophistication, geography and other factors.

2. Bad timing – A business associate recently scheduled a big event without consulting an important organization calendar and we’re sure you know the rest – his event now collides with something else of interest to his audience. First rule of event planning, check all possible conflicts before securing a date. This goes for potential event conflicts as well as holidays, potential bad weather dates, even TV moments like season finales of mega-popular shows! It also pays to see what similar events come right before and after yours. Check them out for theme and location, etc. to make sure to avoid the dreaded “event redundancy. Meticulous, thorough planning at the very beginning ensures a most successful event.

3. Poor communication with donors and prospects
– When encouraging attendance to your fundraiser, how many reminders are mandatory? How many are too much? There is no perfect number, but you do want to plan according to some variation of this formula.
  • Save the date (pre-sell)
  • Printed, mailed invitation
  • Email reminder (or 2)
  • Day of email (particularly for those who cannot attend but might like to bid virtually!)
  • Post-event email (if your event is able to sell items afterwards; if not then as a Thank You)
4. Not taking advantage of current technology – If you are having a silent auction, consider using mobile bidding with companies like GiveSmart, a national customer service company engaged in using technology to create an approach to fundraising that raises more money, streamlines the process and delivers an enhanced donor experience. With today's mobile bidding technology, you can bring efficiency and excitement to your silent auctions.

5. Not growing your donor base or allowing attrition – Avoid this by scheduling ways to keep your current donors engaged and increasingly invested. Do so via direct mail, email blasts, newsletters, interesting events to attend and other ways to generate ongoing enthusiasm and anticipation. Work with your auction provider to get all the news on exciting new experiences and destination to whet donor appetites.

6. AVOID "auction sale" attitudes
– Always treat your events as opportunities for donors to give of themselves for the causes they believe in, not as a way to get “bargain deals.” Make each auction item description deluxe and exclusive and remind attendees where their donations are going!