Fundraising Silent Auctions: It’s the Items, Stupid
|Maybe this wasn’t a good place for fishing?|
We spend too much time thinking about the right way to ask people for donations, yet not enough time thinking about who the right people are to ask. It’s like buying a perfect fishing rod and reel, learning how to cast, and then casting off into empty waters. It takes more than toiling, more than tackle, and more than time. If you are fishing in the wrong place none of that matters.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a volunteer or staff member in an organization say “Why don’t we get So-and-so to give?” I’d be a wealthy woman. Because usually, within a given community, everyone is targeting the same So-and-so. And here’s why that won’t work.
NO LINK to your organization: No hook
· No organizational connection – never attended an event, participated in a program, used/referred your services, or obtained any benefit from you.
· No human connection – doesn’t know anyone affiliated with your organization.
NO INTEREST in what you do: No appetite for your bait.
· Not what they care about. Why? Because they really don’t have a clue what you do. Maybe they’ve heard something vague, but not much.
· Not a value they’ll ever share. Why? Whales just aren’t their thing. In fact, animals aren’t their thing. Their big thing is feeding poor people. They’re always going to give their extra dollar to help save human lives. Period.
NO ABILITY to give: Too small to feed you.
· No resources; barely getting by.
· No liquidity; overly committed elsewhere.
HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE: Had a run-in with you; learned avoidance.
· Got poor service from a program (or knew someone who did).
· Got poor service from development: weren’t thanked promptly and personally… weren’t kept informed… weren’t recognized… name was misspelled…
· Didn’t like the position your organization took on an issue… a rumor they heard… a run-in they had with a board member…
If you’re contemplating prospect cultivation and/or solicitation, go through this checklist. You can remember each element by using the acronym B A I L(though I’ve listed them in the order of what I believe to be of greatest importance). If you’re able to put a check next to any of these, you’ve got some work ahead of you before you’ll be ready to ask. In some cases, you’ll never be ready to ask. It’s best to bail sooner rather than later.
The world is filled with people with a wide range of values and purposes. Not everyone will share the values your organization enacts. Don’t fish in those ponds. Why waste your valuable and limited time? There are still plenty of other fish in the sea. You can lead a prospect to water, but you can’t make ‘em bite.