Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leaders: Building a Community of Supporters

Would it also surprise you to know that your fundraising auctions and benefit events are an untapped, golden opportunity?

Strategically designed and conducted, you can powerfully connect your supporters to what they love and care about most about your great cause.

However, attracting and retaining a generous donors requires a shift in thinking.

Qualities and Goals of Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leaders

Today’s, entrepreneurial nonprofit leaders, the subject of an upcoming event with the same name, understand the unique power of strategic fundraising auctions, galas and benefit events to deeply activate their community of supporters and to inspire a new culture of giving.

With an entrepreneurial mindset, nonprofit leaders can powerfully show supporters how their gifts will positively impact the cause that impassions them.

As nonprofits and educational organizations are challenged for greater income and resources to support their missions, entrepreneurial leadership and innovative strategies are vital.

Keeping Your Donors

Did you know that a top problem for many nonprofit and educational organizations is that they are not retaining their donors? Donor attrition may be as high as 40 to 70 percent for a typical nonprofit.* If you were running a business and lost 60 percent of your customers every year, you’d be out of business. It is as critical for a nonprofit to develop a pool of donors who upgrade their gifts as it is for a business to build steady customers.

“Your events are important assets for your organization,” says Gail Bower, “but only if you leverage them with purpose and strategy. Generating revenue, engaging donors, building relationships with your funders and sponsors, and connecting your community emotionally with your cause are the ideal outcomes of your overarching strategy and long-term vision.

Strategically designed donor engagement and fundraising brings people into your organization and ensures that you retain those donors, many of whom will upgrade their gifts over time until they consider giving their ultimate gift.

For example, as the consultant recently working with the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, my innovative audience and donor engagement strategies helped their innovative executive director Maureen Cottingham increase revenue from $700,000 to $4.7 million in just four years.

Year round community of supporters

You get this type of result by creating a community of generous supporters to sustain lasting impact for your entire organization, clients, and community. A strategic approach means that your auction fundraiser has a greater purpose. It goes beyond raising money that night at your event. It has the power to unite people to generate enthusiasm and action—not only to raise money, but also to deepen their relationships to you and your great cause. With this approach, you unite people with fun and energy and purpose

“Money is a tool. It’s a means to obtain value.” Karen Eber Davis, the Income Growth Catalyst writes, “Your auction invites your supporters to raise their hands and say “yes” this mission’s worth doing. Yes, I’m excited to be part of it. Yes, we do better together. Great auctions leave your attendees with a high (not from any alcohol they consumed) but from the knowledge that they help to achieve something important worth moving forward.

Entrepreneurial Paradigm Shift 

Simply said, if you want to raise a lot more money and keep your donors, shift from the old tired friend-raiser mind-set to a strategic philanthropic giving mindset. Change your one-time event mind-set to one in which you leverage your auction as a gateway to long-term donor development. And instead of simply “doing” an auction and crossing your fingers, adapt a strategic philanthropy model mind-set. That means leveraging your benefit fundraising auction to build long-term relationships and engage your wonderful supporters year-round, before, during, and after your benefit auction event.

My most successful clients maximize their proceeds (double, triple, even quintuple revenue) but more importantly create a dynamic climate for giving that transcends the benefit auction event. In other words, you create a culture of giving that begins with strategic design, that is highly visible at the auction event and continues long after your event ends. In this culture, you can actually make the most money after the event.

In conclusion, with an entrepreneurial leadership mindset, strategic fundraising auctions, when strategically designed and properly conducted, can be a highly effective solution for donor retention, audience engagement, board empowerment, supporter cultivation, mission-focused marketing, and maximum fundraising. To generate income, of course, leaders need to develop and engage your community of supporters in new ways.

Learn more about our upcoming complimentary online expert panel on June 27, 2018, at 1 p.m. EST and register before the session is sold out.

*Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, “2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report”, Fundrai- sing Effectiveness Project, 2013. 412906-2013-fundraising-effectiveness-survey-report.pdf

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Are You an Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leader?

Guest post by Karen Eber Davis

What Does Money Have to Do with Nonprofit Entrepreneurial Leadership?

Less than you think.

But, still a lot.

Money is a tool. You need money to buy resources to support and further your entrepreneurial efforts.

Creating change is not free. If you’re an entrepreneurial leader, you need more resources than leaders satisfied with the status quo.

Money is Also an Outcome of Nonprofit Entrepreneurial Leadership

Revenue growth results from entrepreneurial leadership. Sometimes your income improvement is direct: you sell a new product or service. Sometimes it’s indirect: your initiative makes you more significant to donors, foundations, and corporations.

However, here’s where money is less important than you think to entrepreneurial leadership: Money is a means to an end. And, what is that end? Mission results.

The entrepreneurial nonprofit leader recognizes that all growth involves money. It’s a necessary part of the calculation, like the multiplication and addition sign in an equation.

More Than Money. What Else Do Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leaders Need?

While money is never not part of the equation, money’s never enough for the entrepreneurial leader. Besides the cash, entrepreneurial leaders recognize that they need a vision and a community of supporters.

“Attracting and retaining a generous community of supporters requires an innovative strategy and most of all, it requires a shift in thinking,” said Kathy Kingston, another co-presenter on June 27. “Would it surprise you to know that your fundraising auctions and benefit events are an untapped, golden opportunity to connect your supporters meaningfully and deeply to what they love and care about most-by showing them how their gifts will positively impact the cause that impassions them?”

On vision, fellow consultant, and co-presenter on Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leadership on June 27, Gail Bower writes, “Your vision generates the passion that fuels you and your team. When you have a clear vision of your preferred future, you are also clear about uncertainty, your mission impact and the value your organization delivers. Vision becomes the cornerstone for your programs and initiatives, the nature of your business model, which brings money and growth.”

Yes. Sign me up for Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leadership 

Three Recommendations on What to Buy to Support Your Entrepreneurial Leadership

We’ve been flying in high orbit. Now, let’s switch to the nitty-gritty ground level. With the money you invest and the money you grow, what are three critical services to buy to improve your entrepreneurial leadership? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Help to Get Stuff Done. Buy help with tasks you don’t like, don’t know how to do, and jobs you’re not good at–but still must be done.
  2. Time to Think. Transform time getting stuff done into thinking time and serious conversations. For example, hire someone to take the phones for 90-minutes to allow your staff time to engage in a meaningful discussion about what blocks your growth initiatives.
  3. Expertise. Now as an expert in sustainable growth initiatives, you may think this recommendation is self-serving. What you don’t see is the experts like Kathy, Gail and I, foundation heads, and other nonprofit experts banging their heads against walls when they look at CEOs doing things the hard way. This is especially painful when recognizing for a modest investment you’d be above the hurdle and onward and upward. Kathy, Gail and I drink this “getting expert help Kool-Aid.” We invest in expertise regularly—it’s how we met—at a convention of the world’s best consultants.

We think this is so important that participants in the June 27 webinar will get an opportunity to… Stop! I can’t tell you about our special offer. It would spoil the surprise.

Are You an Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leader? Find out.

Sign up now to attend the complimentary online expert panel Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Leadership on June 27.

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Techniques to Elevate Fundraising Auction Bidder Participation

Discover more strategies to entice benefit auction bidders to pay attention and to spend more money at your auction fundraiser event or school auction. Kathy Kingston, professional benefit auctioneer and consultant gives proven methods to raise more money and engage donors.www.HowToRaiseMoreMoney.com

Enjoy my video quick tip: (Hint, click on the arrow to watch)

Techniques to Elevate Fundraising Auction Bidder Participation

Take your fundraising charity auction to the next level now!


PS: Share this tip with your Auction and Finance Committees.
Please feel free to forward this video tip to any other
colleagues and friends who you think would benefit.

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Fast track tips to increase speed and money at your benefit auction

It’s finally spring, which fondly reminds me of track season!

You see, I started my career as a college coach in track, basketball, and volleyball at my alma mater and Saint Louis University.

In 1983, I was invited to volunteer as a coach for blind and visually impaired athletes representing Missouri at the national championships for United States Association for Blind Athletes USABA. The next year, I was honored to direct these national championships in St. Louis and served on the USABA national board of directors. Helping athletes reach their full potential was incredibly rewarding. I gained invaluable lessons about communication, team building and running a huge national athletic event. Today, I deeply rely on those incredible strategies, insights and techniques.

Now, I’m honored to coach nonprofit executives, development professionals, board members, sponsors, staff and volunteers on how to raise more funds and how to engage donors with their strategic benefit auctions.

So what’s the connection? 

Run your benefit auction like a track meet!
Here are my top strategies to increase speed and guest engagement to keep those bid cards waiving!

Try Out
Here’s my challenge. Take your mark and try out these specific momentum-builder techniques. Add them to your master planning agenda. Teach these ideas to your auction committee and staff. Then, give it a go at your next auction fundraiser. See what works best for you. Get back to me and let me know.

Optimize Your Speed
Your guests expect to attend a fun, upbeat, lively event. You expect momentum and a profitable night! Attention spans are short, so keep things moving. Your organization cannot make money if the guests are gone. If guests are bored or there’s been too much lag time, their attention will go somewhere else. We want to keep them focused on your mission and why they should support you generously at the auction.

Use Your Stopwatch
The first thing a track coach needs is a stopwatch, and you need one too! It’s very important to time out every single element of the event. Write up a minute by minute show flow detailing every single action on and off stage. Time out every element with your stopwatch. Stick to it!

Get “On Deck”
In a track competition, the next runner is “on deck” and the one behind her is “in the hole.” The same lineup works for benefit auctions. At the beginning of your event, the chairperson, board president, or executive director makes the welcome and thank you remarks. Immediately following those remarks, go right into the montage about the transformational aspects of your nonprofit organization. Set this up so that you have speakers “on deck” and “in the hole.” Put six or seven chairs on the side of the stage and insist that everyone who is making any kind of remarks is seated in chairs 10 minutes in advance of when they are speaking and line up in order of stage appearance.

Add a Manager
One of the best ways to maintain control of your strategically designed show flow is to engage a dedicated stage manager. In a track meet, that person is called the clerk of the course. She oversees the timeline, queues up the competitors, and ensures that everything happens on time. Get one.

Include Handlers
At your event, add specific volunteers called “speaker handlers” to bring speakers right from their tables and escort them to their chairs by the stage before it’s time to make remarks. Your speakers are often beloved to your organization, and your guests want to visit with them. But that s l o w s down your timeline. Assign one handler for each speaker to escort the speaker to the side of the stage, wait in the chairs, stay with him until it’s time to speak, and then escort the speaker from the stage back to his table following the remarks. When all of your speakers are seated and “on deck” lined up ready to go, your speed and momentum and bid cards will soar.

Kathy Kingston Try Outs!  
Here’s my challenge. Take your mark and try out these specific momentum-builder techniques. Add them to your master planning agenda. Teach these ideas to your auction committee and staff. Then, give it a go at your next auction fundraiser. See what works best for you.

Please let me know how these strategies and techniques work for you.

I’d love to hear from you, please contact me with questions and ideas: kathy@kingstonauction.com 603-235-1196

Always BIDhi!

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Perfect Your Pitch: How to Make A Fundraising Ask

What’s one of the most commonly overlooked fundraising mistakes?

Failing to ask, personally.

Failing to ask for people’s help, their time, their generosity. There’s so much to ask for in a fundraising auction event — attendance, items, sponsorships, volunteers, donations, new guests, higher bids, referrals, influence. I once counted and found at least 54 separate asks made in a benefit auction gala event!

So we’d better get good at it!

And, heres my top secret: You are really not “asking.” Instead, you, dear fundraiser are opening a wonderful opportunity for your donors to make a difference for something that impassions THEM! What an honor.

In my article, “Perfect Your Pitch” I’ll share some insights and some easy tips to ask unabashedly and confidently. To get you started, here are some of my top strategies and ideas that you and your board and volunteers can use right away.

Think about it. Each time you hold your benefit auction, gala and fundraiser, you too can deeply inspire your guests, donors, volunteers and potential new supporters to raise more money for a cause that impassions them.

Nonprofits and schools have scrapbooks full of life-changing stories they forget to retell. They have urgent needs they never describe.

Donors want—and need—to hear about the impact their gifts will have. They want to know they’re making a real difference. As long as you communicate that, your ask will be a powerful and welcome invitation.

First, The First Rule of Fundraising

The first rule of fundraising—I’ll keep repeating it—is that people give to people, for things they care about. When you’re looking for the best way to invite people to your benefit auction event, you might use save-the-date cards and invitations. However, the most powerful, potent, and effective way is to make a personal ask—not by e-mail or text! In person, over a cup of coffee, or at the very least, by phone.

The personal ask makes a huge difference. It’s about cultivating a relationship early—before your benefit auction—and continuing that relationship during and after the event.

Remember, you are now building relationships with your guests so that you’ll continue to raise funds after your benefit auction and to engage donors in your strategic advancement plan. This is because you’ve designed the event as a cultivation event as much as a fundraising event. With nurturing, the relationship you started will continue for the long term. People give to people, for things they care about.

What to Say? How to Ask? A Powerful Primer

As a young professional in my early twenties, I volunteered for a St. Louis YWCA leadership event that provided excellent fundraising training. The presenter, a senior advancement officer at Saint Louis University Hospital who had just raised $60 million for a capital campaign in 1980, taught me powerful words to use when making an “ask.” He encouraged us to pass this wisdom forward. So here you are.

Here’s how I’ve adapted his invaluable words: “Would YOU be willing to consider (fill in specifically what you want) so that YOUR gift will (fill in the impact of the donors gift) for (fill in the name of your organization)?”  Then, hold the silence, Don’t interrupt. Simply wait attentively and quietly. Listen.

You can use this model at your next meeting and role-play with board members, volunteers and staff. Ask, for example, “Would you be willing to consider purchasing two reservations for our fundraiser auction so that we can increase outreach at schools for the our Great Cause?” Asking, “Would you be willing to consider” is not looking for a yes or no. You’re just opening the door for the donor to consider the opportunity you’ve just graciously offered.

Keep Inviting Generosity

Your fundraising auction gala is the new golden gateway to donor engagement. Attract new donors and build long-term connections that you can leverage at your auction fundraiser. That’s exactly why I wrote A Higher Bid.  Think of every guest as a long-term donor. The key is to communicate the impact of the donors’ gift. Ask how you can align your guests with the work your organization is doing. Help your board members to discover the connections your guests have to the mission and to members. Understand each person’s interests and core values and how they relate to the core values of your organization.

Every Guest is a Donor

Create a culture of giving so that your guests to feel moved by your work, to feel deeply interested in the work you do as a nonprofit, and to be deeply touched by the difference you’re making.  It all starts with your personal gracious invitation to give.

There are lots of other great tips for making an ask for fundraising events and auctions.  What’s your favorite?  Feel free to share your ideas. kathy@kingstonauction.com

Ready to go deeper? Take your fundraising to higher level!

Are you really serious about engaging donors and raising more funds?

I’d love to help you break fundraising records and to design and conduct your fundraising event, auction and gala, feel free to contact me for your complimentary consultation.

Kathy Kingston kathy@kingstonauction.com   603-235-1196

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