You have one, two — maybe three — special events a year.   And maybe you send out a year-end mailing.  You might even have a grant or two coming in, and a few big gifts.

If that is your organization’s fundraising program, you’re not alone.  In fact, you’re stuck in front of the same wall that 95% of the 120+ organizations that I have worked with in my three decades of fundraising have faced.  I can help you get over this wall.

What Is the Fundraising Wall? 

Simply put, most charities don’t really ask people for money.  Instead, they sell things: tickets to golf outings, tickets to a galas, raffle tickets, silent auction stuff, journal advertisements, sponsorships, etc.

But — except maybe in a year-end letter, or a grant application — they never ask people for a simple donation.  This creates two big problems.

Problem#1: The Donation Ceiling

First, “selling stuff” tends to put an upper limit on how much money you can ask for.  It’s a rare charity that can sell gala tickets — or even entire tables — for $50,000 or $100,000 each, with the possible exception of one or two sponsors.  But it is by no means unreasonable to ask for such an amount as a donation from many individuals and institutions.

Problem#2: High Fundraising Expenses

Second, selling stuff to your donors instead of just asking them for donations locks you into a very expensive type of fundraising.  It is not uncommon for special events to cost 50 cents or more for every dollar they raise.  And that is before you factor in the indirect cost of the salaries of all the staff that had to pitch in the week before the event.

The Solution: Major Gift Fundraising

Major gift fundraising — where you just ask people, foundations and corporations for larger gifts — sans tickets, dinners, sponsorships, etc. — represents a much less time-consuming, much more cost-effective approach.  Fundraising projects I help charities manage usually cost 5 to 15 cents for each dollar raised.  Interestingly enough, the larger the amount to be raised, the better that ratio gets.

And I’m not talking major gift fundraising just for charities whose friends like to wear tuxedos and top hats, so to speak. Virtually any charity can start this kind of program — not infrequently with wonderful results.

By the way, I am not suggesting that your organization shouldn’t have special events.  Every organization needs at least one annual event to give its community an opportunity to come together.  But I don’t think it should be your principle vehicle for fundraising.  In fact, many of the most effective special events are free, and are conducted in conjunction with major gift efforts.

What You Can Do Next

You could probably figure out how to do this yourself through trial and error.  But why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?  I can also train your staff.

If you want to find out more, click on the link below — or call me at 201-659-5700.