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Big Tickets, Big Cash

March 18, 2014
It can be intimidating for any non-profit organization, no matter the size, to ask for larger donations. Smaller and mid-sized organizations in particular can feel intimidated to try and add zeroes to the end of donation checks. But there is only one way to get bigger donations: Ask for bigger donations.

Since we pair with organizations all the time to offer vacation auction packages sold on consignment, we hear the objections all the time, the thinking from some groups that their donors don’t have the money to be able to bid on a trip. Our response is fairly straight-forward: Give your donors a chance. Just ask!

In order to do so confidently, it can help to remember these three factors that any organization has in its favor:
  • These people like you. A charity auction at a gala or other fundraising event is a celebration of like minds, brought together by a single passion or outlook on life. It is your organization, your passion, which is driving that room. These are not strangers, they are not people on the other ends of cold calls, but your non-profit’s friends. If you can’t ask your friends for help, who can you ask?
  • Shopping lists can line up with auction lists. Unlike a straight donation, a charity auction comes with its own tangible reward. Beyond the satisfaction of helping a group do good, donors can also win memorabilia, dinners and even the trip of a lifetime. Maybe it’s a proud parent who was looking for a graduation gift for a daughter or son. Maybe it’s an anniversary surprise. No matter what the reason, your donors may be in the market for a vacation – and surely they’d like to help your non-profit at the same time.
  • All it takes is an excuse. It’s impossible to force someone to donate money. Strong-arming someone into opening his or her wallet is not charity. But, it can be easier for a person to donate more money if there’s a secondary reason behind it, or an incentive as big as a ticket to the Grammys, a ski weekend in the Canadian Rockies or just a much-needed vacation. Giving people another impetus to donate can loosen up pockets.
The biggest plus about consignment selling is that there is no risk to the organization. If a trip doesn’t sell, it doesn’t sell. But like the oddly-philosophical Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take.”

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A Different Take on Appealing to Alumni Associations

March 19, 2013
Has your annual donation drive failed to drive donations? Has your donor base “checked out” when it comes to writing checks? Soliciting hard earned dollars from anyone for anything takes a lot of hard work and finesse especially in this economy. Sometimes it’s timing, sometimes it’s the approach, or sometimes it’s a combination. If the end result is low end donations, you might want to consider offering something new to your base.

When you analyze it, even if people care deeply for a cause, if the pitch is “been there, done that,” it may not resonate. So your job as a development director/fundraiser then becomes figuring out a way to excite and energize alumni beyond “Hey we’re your school, please write us a check.”
The answer may be as simple as making more money for your association and less work for you. As we have reported in this blog before, people today crave experiences, particularly customized experiences that represent a check-mark on a list of “things I’ve always wanted to do.”
Why not offer your alumni risk-free custom-designed travel packages that are in fact a reward for being an alumni? This offer should be presented to your audience as an opportunity for a great vacation that will also result in some funding for your alma mater. It can be viewed as the ultimate win-win!

Specialized travel companies offer exciting creative packages at steep discounts, through a website created especially for the association. There is no cash layout or cold-calling every store in town. The association pockets a percentage from each sale of a trip. Some examples of these extraordinary experiences include sojourns to Sonoma’s wine country including a private tour, a magnificent trip to Paris which features a cooking class at L’Atelier Des Sens or a shopping excusion to New York. There are so many options.

An experienced company will work with you to:
  • Design trips your members would want
  • Come up with creative ways to make the trips available such as raffles; offers on your website etc.
  • Create a “wow” factor for your organization and better yet, the target audience
  • Help you to market the travel program to get the highest possible participation

Travel is such an exciting option for associations and their members and distinctly different. Have you had success working with custom-designed travel packages and your association? We would love to know about your experience!

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Veteran’s Day Thoughts on Giving

November 04, 2012
Americans donated more than $298 billion to charity in 2011. In addition to monetary donations, individuals also find ways to offer their time, goods and services and other support. While there are many options for giving, including to victims of the recent Superstorm Sandy, we wanted to pause on Veteran’s Day and tell you about a wonderful way our company has been able to help an important veteran’s group.

Sentinels of Freedom provides life-changing opportunities for men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have suffered severe injuries and need the support of grateful communities to realize their dreams. The organization offers up to four year "life scholarships" to help vets become self- sufficient.

The group works tirelessly each year to raise money through its gala. For previous events, organizers had relied on the generosity of its donors to source and secure auction items. While they were successful in procuring items, the goods tended to be the same, leaving attendees looking for something “new and different.”

Enter Mitch-Stuart. As many readers know, obtaining unique, compelling auction-worthy items is what we are known for. The Sentinels of Freedom organization noticed the difference right away as they were able to choose luxurious trips and packages and sell some of them multiple times, to the delight of their guests.

Ultimately their most recent gala was a huge success. Carla Goulart, COO of Sentinels of Freedom remarked “The money raised means that we can grow our support for our Nation’s Severely Wounded Veterans who have voluntarily raised their hand to serve and protect us and our freedom.”

Mitch-Stuart feels blessed and honored to have helped this worthy organization in such a meaningful way. But there are important, individual ways to help our nation’s veterans.  Here are some examples that we hope you may be able to incorporate into your charitable giving this year.
  • Volunteer to drive a disabled vet to a doctor’s or other appointment. More information can be found here
  • Consider hiring a service member when you have a position to fill. They don’t come more qualified!
  • Help make sure these returning soldiers have proper clothing to go on a job interview; donate “gently used” professional clothing to Suits for Vets
  • If you don’t see a charity “fit” for you – tap into your own talents – vets can use everything from bookkeeping to babysitting and so on; create a charitable gift and give it.
The rewards are amazing.

Any other great ideas for helping veterans, just post in our comments section.

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