Somewhere over your rainbow of benefit auction revenue…there’s an auction you dream of where new donors do bid high! Far beyond your silent and live auctions, sponsorships and fund a need truly lies a true pot of fundraising gold.
And no, it’s not a raffle.
Imagine a double rainbow strategy. How can you create an inspiring “second arc of fundraising” for your next benefit auction? Beyond your first ask for fundraising, the second ask is just as powerful. So what is that second arc of fundraising? It’s that all important second ask for referrals from your current supporters. Often overlooked, this powerful double rainbow strategy will help you reach your next span of philanthropy to engage more donors and raise more funds.
Activate The Gift of Influence
Think for a moment, what is a gift that everyone has? I call it the “Gift of Influence.” You can optimize this gift by inviting your supporters who know, love and trust you to personally introduce you to their friends and colleagues who also care about the impact of your mission. Ask for their gift of influence. It’s also known as a referral or a second ask.
By now you know the “first asks” necessary for a successful benefit auction: ask for silent and live auction items, ask for sponsorships, ask people to attend your benefit auction, ask for table hosts, ask for volunteers, ask for lead gifts for fund a need, ask for co-chairpersons, ask for donations if a guest can not attend and much more.
Create and implement a new Second Circle of Influence plan.
Achievable and powerful, this second ask strategy is based on personal referrals from your current base of supporters. Invite your current item donors, sponsors, guests, auctioneer, board, vendors, venue management, volunteers, staff — virtually everyone who touches with your benefit auction.
Asking for a referral from a person who already supports you is not intended to be stressful or difficult. When people care about you, donate and volunteer for your great cause, many times they are happy to introduce you to their friends, family and colleagues. They just need to be asked.
Hint: It’s an honor to invite someone to give to a cause that impassions them so that they can make a difference. It’s the highest form of compliment for your supporter to personally refer a friend or college to you for your great cause.
Remember, people like to give. Giving feels good. Also remember that people do not give unless they are asked personally. The same is true for referrals. With the second ask you can optimize the top rule of fundraising: People give to people, for causes they care about. Make it a habit to ask for referrals every day. Ask unabashedly. Ask personally.
Here are a few tips to expand your second arc of influence at your next fundraising auction.
Audience Development: The number one question I’m asked is, Where can I find new donors? The answer may surprise you. They are attending your benefit auction right now. When recruiting table hosts or new guests try this. “Thank you for your support! Who are one to two people that you think that I should meet who would care about ‘name your cause.’ and who would attend our auction and be generous to (name your organization)” Would you introduce me to them personally by way of a call, meeting or even an email?”
Auction Item Procurement: Whether you receive an auction item donation or not, always ask, “Thank you so much. Would you recommend one to two other people who care about (name your mission) who you think would donate an auction item? Could you introduce them to me personally?
Sponsors: Ask your current sponsors: corporate, small business and in-kind sponsors. “Thank you so much. Would you recommend one to two other people who care about (name your mission) who you think I should meet? Would you introduce me to them personally by way of a call, meeting or even an email?”
Fund a Need Leadership Gifts: Whether or not you receive a gift be gracious and invite them to recommend their colleagues. “Thank you so much. Would you recommend one to two other people who care about (name your mission) who you think I should meet? Would you introduce me to them personally by way of a call, meeting or even an email?”
I’m sure you are getting the picture. The key is to first change your mindset to always incorporate a second ask as part of your fundraising strategy for your charity auction. The next key is to make it a daily habit to always ask the second follow up question every time you speak with a supporter.
A double rainbow is considered a sign of extreme good fortune, so is a “Second Ask Strategy.” Personally invite your supporters who know and who love you to help you build a strong network of loyal long term donors who are delighted to bid and give generously at your benefit auction and to your great cause for many years to come.