Bite Sized Impact

Blog Post by: Ashlee Meier

More than ever, donors want to know EXACTLY how you plan to use their gifts, how far that generosity will go, and what kind of impact it makes towards furthering your mission. Sound like a lot of information? That’s exactly what they want! 

While younger generations step into their own as supporters, they see themselves as philanthropists, activists, and all-around changemakers. As donors, they don’t (and won’t) blindly give. They want to feel included as participants in your organization’s impact, whether that is through hands-on volunteerism or how and when they give. 

As you consider fostering your next generation of supporters, there should be a strategic approach to appeal to these desires in multi faceted ways, but for today’s purpose, let’s dive into a narrow focus: how to best position a live appeal at your fundraising event. 

At STUDIO 4Forty, our team of Project Managers get to frequently take the stage and conduct the ask for donations at many of our signature events, in partnership with the driving nonprofit.  While there are many components to consider when planning (to dive further into that, check out my previous blog post on how to create an Atmosphere of Giving), there is one easy fix that is far too frequently overlooked, and which can make or break the success of your live ask. 

So, what’s the secret? Simple. Give your donors what they want. Tie every giving level to an impact statement: a clear, easily digestible view of how their gift, in that moment, makes a difference.  

I know, I know – you have loads of amazing programs, data that will blow their minds, and you want to use this opportunity to tell your guests all about everything you are doing while you have their focused attention. And you should do that, just with a maximum chunk of 10 minutes built into the first part of your seated program, not with a meandering 5 minute spiel for each level of the fund-a-need. I promise you, no matter how heart tugging your mission moment is, if the process of getting the ask going takes too long, you will lose their attention and therefore, their dollars. Don’t risk that! 

Example, please? 

As the former Director of Development at the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee, I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating their fund-a-need at Wine Women & Shoes for several years. Although they provide a wide variety of services to the community, funds raised through Wine Women & Shoes specifically support their Weaver Domestic Violence Shelter, and they do an excellent job making that very clear. As with every good live appeal, they begin at the highest dollar amount and work their way down, building the amount of bid cards raised along with the momentum of giving. 

Here is what it could look like:

  $5,000 – For 125 years, YWCA has helped women, children and families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee build safer, more self-sufficient lives. We do this by operating the largest domestic violence shelter in Tennessee so women, children, and their pets fleeing abuse can heal. We empower youth to break down negative gender stereotypes through Girls Inc. and AMEND Together. We provide the tools needed to become successful in work and life through Dress for Success and the Family Learning Center. Our programs are FREE to the thousands of people we serve each year and are offered to everyone. So please consider giving at $5,000.

Too much information! When did you stop reading? That’s about when guests would stop listening! Is this amazing work that deserves to be talked about? Absolutely! Is this the right time for it? Nope! 

$5,000 – Who can give at this level. It really helps. Who can give $5,000?

Not enough information! Even with a phenomenal mission moment, this is too vague and general to help your guests feel confident in their giving. Remember, they want to participate in the impact, not just give dollars. 

$5,000 – Supports a month-long stay for a survivor at the Weaver Domestic Violence Shelter. 

Just right! This is a succinct, focused impact statement that, with only a sentence, helps donors envision exactly how their gift will help make their world, or at least their city, a better place, and effectively motivates them to give (if their interest and ability align). And in this instance, for the YWCA, give they did – totaling $125,000 in just over 15 minutes!

As you begin scripting for your next live appeal, remember this giving Goldilocks situation and the key to success with bite-sized, just right impact statements. 

Still stuck? Our fundraising gurus at STUDIO 4Forty would love to help.