This is Philanthropy; Overcoming Objections
Why consult a professional fundraising host, when you can do it your self?
You have connections to a Christie's or Sotheby's auctioneer, an enigmatic CEO, a persuasive Executive Director, an outspoken board member, friend of a friend, or know someone witty. Selling art to a room of captive buyers differs GREATLY from appealing to donors at a gala. As for the rest, you are placing your life in the hands of a gifted amateur. Hugh Hildesley said it best:
“It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of engaging a professional. The gifted amateur who fancies himself in the role is unlikely to know how to pace, encourage bidders, what increments to use, or how to push an item when the action heats up. The training and concentration required to pull off a benefit are extensive, and failure can be extremely expensive to the charity involved.”
An auction is the TIP of the fundraising iceberg. There's your date, venue, donors, program, run of show, speakers, production, appeal/paddle raise/direct ask/fund a need, software, AV, collection, spotters, volunteers and SO much more. Would you bet your job on a gifted amateur?
In this blog, I'll share 5 Common Objections that professional fundraising hosts face from organizations who are planning events, and how to overcome them.
We're a Small Non-Profit, Who Cannot Afford the Expense
The benefits a professional fundraising host offers your organization are many. First, you will raise more money. Wouldn't that be nice? Second, donors will appreciate someone on stage who does not insult their intelligence, bore them (unforgivable), or induce dyspepsia. Lastly, a professional fundraising host consults with you to plan a better event. Time remains money.
How many events have you done?
For some Development Directors, the answer is a few. For others, it's many. A professional host consults with all sizes of non-profits on a DAILY basis, has a verifiable track record of success, and has led live fundraising at HUNDREDS of events. You don't know what you don't know. While failure is part of growth, the price of a professional exempts you from public humiliation.
Donors recoil at the sight of inexperienced actors cloying for attention, tactlessly begging, perpetrating unscrupulous pleas that alternately embarrass and annoy guests. So you paid little to nothing for your auctioneer? It shows. Donors are smart. They know immediately. The cost of a professional is worth every penny. Donor participation increases, and people will heap praise on you.
We are Afraid of/Not Ready for Live Fundraising
Every organization is in a position to grow their fundraising. No matter your size, number of development staff, or yearly budget; donor cultivation remains a priority. Yes, it's scary to ask for money. I haven't panhandled (yet), but guess it would be harder to get a dollar from a stranger on the subway, than $100 from a donor who cares about your mission at a gala.
It's time to take the leap.
Many organizations have the tendency to SHY away from making a hard ask at their event. It's nerve wracking. How can you publicly appeal to hundreds of people in a way that highlights the importance of each of their personal gifts? What can you say to donors to cut through the clutter of news, health, economy, cell phone, family, politics? How can you touch their hearts, and inspire them to raise a paddle for $10,000?
Tell them about the impact they have on the world.
A professional fundraising host helps non profit organizations determine priorities. Our consultation involves questions. What makes your organization different from others? Why should donor X give to program Y, instead of spending money on Z? It's hard to imagine a more fraught interaction than asking another human being for money.
Yet people generously respond to genuine requests for help every day.
This is philanthropy. We are people who love, asking other people who love, for help. That's all this is. If you care about a cause enough to serve it every day, then it's your prerogative to share it with others. How could you not spread the word? If you don't advocate for its mission, who will? A professional fundraising host spreads the word; tactfully, succinctly and truthfully.
We Are Going to Work with Someone We Already Know
That's good news, and I'm happy for you.
While our profession is fundraising, our business is solving problems for people. HUNT is built on strong communication and relationships that overcome adversity. I owe my career to other auctioneers, and do not knock the performance of my peers. We all do the best we can with any given organization, on any given night. Nothing is a given with live events. We have to earn it every moment on stage. Our styles and methods vary, and success comes in many forms.
Stick with your auctioneer. They are your quarterback.
If you love who you've worked with in the past, and fundraising numbers have been consistently good, why mess with success? Breaking last year's record every year is NOT a realistic goal, but sure, give it a try. Seriously, if the relationship is healthy, and your fundraising host energetically supports your mission with innovative ideas, stick with your auctioneer. If she asks for a raise, say SURE!
We Do Not Understand the Value of Your Services
If you do not already have a professional fundraising host who consults with you on your run of show, live auction and appeal, then book a call with HUNT. We sit down with you, look over numbers from past years, and listen to your present needs and goals.
HUNT creates strategies to fundraise better. Our services embody 3 Verbs.
Consulting involves site visits, in person meetings, phone calls, email support, and other preparation. Our goal is to solve your problems. How can you plan an incredible program to engage donors? Host an amazing (short) live auction with great packages donated by your board, committee, honoree? Conduct an inspiring (short) direct appeal to raise funds for your XYZ program?
Scripting your professional fundraising host is critical. It is the plan that maps your vision for success. It has to be good (short). Philanthropy, like poetry, employs an economy of language. You say more with less. You don't have 10 minutes to state all your reasons for donating. You don't have 5 minutes. You don't even have 1 minute. You have a moment.
Hosting is what we do best. It's game time, show time, go time!!! A professional fundraising host arrives 1 hour before doors to mic check with AV, meet the software team, rehearse, mingle, retreat, then DELIVERS. There are many qualities that make a good auctioneer; gratitude, positivity and generosity are a few. HEART is also a big one.
We Know Everything and Don't Need to Consult
Wherever you are in the process, the knowledge and experience a professional fundraising host brings to the table is invaluable. What would it mean for your organization to raise an additional 10k, 50k, 100k, 250k or 500k at your next event? It happens ALL the time... double, triple, quadruple goal.
Records are made to be broken. Is this your year?
Our most successful clients trust us with their donors because we show up for them BEFORE the event. HUNT earns business and respect by being there for non profit organizations. We know that donors are more important than their money. If you invest in them, your organization grows. One of the golden rules of fundraising is people give to people.
Show up BEFORE the event.
You can consider what does not work, and throw that out. You can plan rich, new, imaginative ways to connect with people. You can give guests the courtesy of a well polished program. You can host a live auction that transforms rather than transacts. You can conduct a direct appeal that people talk about the next day at work, because it was meaningful to them. You can fundraise better.
I hope reading about the 5 Common Objections that professional fundraising hosts face will help you overcome them. If you have any more, I'd be happy to hear those too.