Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting to the Heart of the Special Appeal

At the heart of every successful event, is a successful special appeal. And at the heart of every successful special appeal, is a compelling story with characters whom the audience can relate to and care about. Basic Rights Oregon got this spot on when choosing their most recent special appeal film subjects, Paul Rummell and Ben West.

Both Paul and Ben were eloquent speakers who were willing to open up their lives to Basic Rights Oregon in order to help the audience understand how marriage equality would affect their lives in very real and understandable terms. They spoke of building their family and taking care of their child and, also, taking care of each other. They spoke both of their struggle to find acceptance in their extended family and the community that had embraced them fully. They fearlessly shared issues that all families face and other issues that most families will never have to face. All of these things that they shared spoke directly to everyone in the crowd, demonstrating the importance of marriage equality on a small scale so that it could be more easily understood on a grand scale.

In just four short minutes of video, Paul and Ben were able to share an emotionally compelling story that resonated with the audience. They showed the audience members how they could insert themselves directly into their incredible story—by supporting Basic Rights Oregon, the audience would be supporting Paul and Ben. They were able to build an experience for the viewers, transporting them into the story. By choosing just the right people to tell just the right story, every non-profit can improve its fundraising dramatically.

All of the incredible storytelling and honesty in Paul and Ben’s story lead to an exceptionally successful appeal with energy and excitement increasing in the room all the way to the end. And Basic Rights Oregon raised significantly more than they had anticipated, allowing them to fight for families like Paul and Ben.

Thank you to Paul and Ben for sharing your lives with us all. And great job Basic Rights Oregon on another successful Oregonians Against Discrimination Business Leaders Lunch!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Putting the Party in the Party

How can a VIP experience help you raise money? Auction it off!

At the recent Mount Hood Kiwanis Camp Prom gala, the live auction was kicked off by the sale of a VIP table. This ramped up the excitement right off the bat, building momentum that ran into the rest of the live auction.

The VIP table was a front-row table set specially with elegant tableware, centerpiece, and linens. At each of the 10 seats were a VIP gift bag, delicious Dagoba chocolate and a cupcake from Cupcake Jones. The table had an upgraded menu, consisting of a steak and lobster 5-course dinner served by their own dedicated wait staff. It looked like the ultimate party.

The VIP table creates a party within the party.
Dianne Hosford, from Oregon Brand Management, was the icing on the cake. She displayed her extensive knowledge of wine and indelible charm as the table’s private sommelier, serving wine pairings with each of the five courses. The constant action at the VIP table drew attention throughout the evening.

As guests entered the event, the VIP table took center stage, but no one knew who the VIP guests were. As the program began, the attendees learned that they would have the chance to sit at the VIP table, as it was the first live auction up for bid. The winning bidder moved his entire table of 10 up to the VIP table for a party within a party.

The VIP table ended up being the highest selling auction item.  As the table required minimal procurement (just some donated chocolate and cupcakes) from MHKC staff, the cost to benefit ratio was very high. And the excitement that this party within a party created in the room was priceless and undoubtedly helped MHKC to raise significantly more than they had expected.

The VIP table helped to create a fun, celebratory atmosphere for everyone at the dinner. There was a lot of interest at the table throughout the night with the special courses, wait staff, and sommelier. Key bidders were already talking about bidding on it again in 2014. Having a VIP table proved to set an exciting, celebratory tone for the entire night.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Inspiring Your Audience to Join You in the WHY of Your Organization

We spend a lot of time with our clients developing their Special Appeal video. It’s your largest fundraising opportunity on the night of your event. But it’s most effective when you’ve taken time at your event, before the Special Appeal, to educate your audience about who you are and what you believe.

This does not mean standing at the microphone listing all of your many programs. This does not mean talking about your staff. This does not mean patting yourself on the back. It means outlining your organization’s vision of the future and what you are in the business of making happen every day through the work that you do. It means streamlining the story of your work into a narrative that a guest—who has quite possibly come to your event with no idea of your mission—can repeat on the elevator the next day.

It means influencing your audience to align with your commitment to make the world a better place. This work will help them want to give you money later during the Special Appeal.

The Anti-Defamation League has been around for 100 years. They are a civil rights/human relations agency fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defending democratic ideals and protecting civil rights for all. That is the WHAT of their work. They have a ton of educational programs. They have legislative and advocacy programs. Those are the HOWs of their work. But all of that work is driven by a vision. It’s driven by a WHY. And in a one-minute and twenty-second video they communicate that mission in a way that is both impactful and specific.

One minute, twenty seconds. Simple. Beautiful. And quite memorable. That’s what you want your organization to be isn’t it? When you start with WHY, you connect to your audience emotionally and bring them on board. The WHAT and the HOW come in time. You are telling your story to an audience with limited attention spans, make the most of them.