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February 12, 2016 Obsession Can Translate to Success for Fundraising

As we work with nonprofits, we often find auction chairs/executive directors who might be somewhat controlling in nature. These people usually don’t delegate well. Having self-diagnosed my control-freak self with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I recognize OCD habits among these individuals.  🙂

There are some things that nonprofits DO need to be obsessive about.  Here are a few of them:

Schedule – Set a critical path that you plan to follow way in advance of your event.  I suggest you start your planning as early as six months out.  Be sure to document what should happen when and by what committee.  These guidelines will accomplish the dual role of assisting you in the planning process as well as mapping out the plan for future committees in the line of succession.  Work your plan and make adjustments as needed.  When setting deadlines, be sure to build in a cushion.  Things happen! Among other things, this plan will include securing your venue, caterer, band and most importantly, your professional fundraising auctioneer!

Keep it Fresh (to an extent) – It is important to keep your event fresh. I caution you, however, not to change too much each year.  Your returning guests/donors like to feel as though they are a part of the event year after year. When you make subtle changes their enjoyment will increase.  If you make several “big” changes to your event, don’t surprise your guests.  Share the plan in advance via newsletters, email blasts, blog posts and on social media. They’ll be much more accepting if they know what changes to the agenda they can expect.

Be Responsive to Your Donors – Your supporters will be making donations for your event prior to your auction and making purchases the night of your event. Many will even do both. Make a plan to be responsive to those donors at the event whenever possible. Receiving an auction receipt and a thank you form letter from a nonprofit several months after the event has taken place is unacceptable in the mind of a donor. Even if it means bringing in additional volunteers, cross-training employees and/or purchasing auction software (that will produce a receipt and thank you letter for you), do it. Do whatever it takes to be responsive to your donors.

There are a lot of details that go into the production of a successful fundraising event. Many of those merit being a little obsessive.  Plan your work and work your plan.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!

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