Securing the Bag for Your Non Profit

Is one of your goals to start a non profit? Or maybe you already have one?  One of the keys to a successful sustainable non-profit is consistent, significant fundraising. And one of the most powerful and under leveraged assets for that is your board.

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Is one of your goals to start a non profit? Or maybe you already have one?  One of the keys to a successful sustainable non-profit is consistent, significant fundraising. And one of the most powerful and under leveraged assets for that is your board.  In the episode Beth Sandefur, fundraising event’s pro will teach us how to get the most from your board when it comes to fundraising and how to help them be successful fundraisers.  She’s raised a bazillion dollars for non profits over her years in events and has BIG insights into where organizations miss the mark on securing the bag.

Even in the largest, most influential nonprofits suffer a board that is tentative about (or don’t realize) how instrumental they are in the sustainability of their nonprofit.  

If you’ve got a non-profit (or if you’re on the board yourself!) Don’t make unnecessary mistakes in fundraising- listen to this episode. 

Follow Beth Sandefur on LinkedIn and Instagram

Learn more about Dia Bondi and what she’s been up to.

Follow The Dia Bondi Show on Instagram

Beth Sandefur 00:03

For I mean I'm in my mid 40s like I'm definitely not in the position even I'm doing well where I could buy a $5,000 you know table or make that level of gift to an organization but I got friends, you know, and I can yeah bring them in. So just bring all of that stuff of like breaking it down into like very tangible goals that feel achievable.

Dia Bondi  00:41

All right, everybody, welcome to the avanti show a big podcast for folks with goals. I'm Dia Bondi longtime leadership, communications coach and catalyst and creator project asked like an auctioneer, where I help you ask for more and get it so you can accelerate yourself and your goals and your dreams. Get more of what you need so you can get where you want to go, Bhaskar. I am so happy to be here today with baby a my on air co host my on air producer and my honor bestie. Hi,

Arthur  01:07

baby. Hey, Dia.

Dia Bondi  01:09

So before we jump before we press record, we started talking about your purple pants.

Arthur  01:13

That's right. Well, it started because I'm wearing gray today instead of black, which is one of the only other colors that I wear these days. And then

Dia Bondi  01:21

when I called you out, yes,

Arthur  01:22

I have purple pants. They're really great. They fit really well, but they have a hole in them that I need to fix. And I have not worn them in a while because they're sitting in the men pile. You know?

Dia Bondi  01:33

Do you have a big man pile? Do you have a big pile?

Arthur  01:36

Not really. Maybe a few pairs of pants? Yeah. I like the I like a certain type of Levi's and sometimes they get a little rip in the crotch. And so they need to be

Dia Bondi  01:47

your purple pants, which I have seen you wear multiple times. Yeah, with a black jean jacket which I think is kind of the look that you do with those pants. Is that right? I'm with you. I'm tracking so those pants that we're not they're not Levi's they didn't make up they made a purple Jean Yeah. And is it called the baby that's what they should call that style the baby a

Arthur  02:08

I you know it don't think it exists anymore. I just a random pair that I found that a Ross one time.

Dia Bondi  02:13

Alright, well, when I go thrifting if I find you know, if I you just got to you should text me one day. Yeah, the you know, the model number and size. And you know, if I'm thrifting one day and I see a pair of purple baby a Levi's in the right number code. They're all yours. I will spend the $7 on you.

Arthur  02:32

Yeah, I will. Okay, great. Thank you. Thank you. Purple is my favorite color. But I mostly just wear black and gray because I'm so sick of picking out colors to wear. There it is. Just keep it simple, man.

Dia Bondi  02:43

Just like that. Just do the Steve Jobs where it's like, black turtleneck all the time, lower that lower that cognitive load. Exactly. So today, I had some stuff I want to talk about, right? Because we always Oh, yeah, do that. And and I went for my walk this morning with the dog. And I ended up changing my mind. Oh, so I was listening to this podcast. And on it was a guy named Rory vaden, who is co founder of the brand builders group. And he and his organization hired a research group to do a research around influence. He's talking he talks about personal brand, but around influence, like what influences people's decisions to trust and like and, you know, eventually buy from you. What are the benefits of a, you know, of a personal brand. That's not why I was listening to this segment of it. Instead, what was stood out for me were the results, you know, that they that they got from this piece of research. And basically there were like five things that matter to audiences and influence whether they want to say yes or no to you about whatever you're selling, or whatever you're doing or whatever job you're applying for, etc. And that was that the number one deciding factor in whether people would envy buy from you was testimonials that you have actually delivered the impact your promise and that you got paid to do it hit so home for me from all my communications work. And the reason I The reason is, people don't want to be first. People do not want to be first and in all my communications work. This goes this happens over and over and over again as well. If you want your audiences to be excited about what you're talking about, you got to go first you can't give it to me with a with a flat pan delivery. If you want people to have a particular reaction to or a particular commitment to the content that you're sharing on stage, whether it's a virtual stage or otherwise, you've got to go first. So if folks who are listening to the show, you know you're that you're on the show because you got some kind of goal you've got some kind of impact you want to make you've got some kind of mission you're on. And you know you're you you can use by the way, communications as a strike point for you. Leadership toward and in the face of that goal, that dream that mission, that initiative that you're running, don't just think about your communications moments as like, or communications in general as a skill that you're building. Yes, it is a skill and used Well, it makes a huge difference. But when you think of communications as a skill, it can get buried in you know, how you can get stuck in your, in your text editors, right? It's just about, it can generalize across things and kind of lose the power that it really can have, which is as a strike point for your leadership and for your voice. And as you think about using communications as a strike point, for your leadership and for your voice, that means you're gonna be recognizing the critical moments, the critical moments and the critical audiences that you're going to get to be in front of whether it's three people in a in a meeting, or if it is 1000 people at an industry conference, or in front of your board or in front of your potential investors or in front of your all hands are in front of etc, fill in the blank. And if you're thinking about, if you're thinking about the kinds of things you want your audiences to do, as an outcome of what you share with them, I want you to think about that piece of research that people want testimonials. Why? Because they don't want to go, they don't want to be first, they don't want to take the risk of being first. So for you, as you go in front of you're in front of the audiences that matter a lot to what you're trying to do, I want you to think about what does it mean for you to go first. Again, if you want them to be excited about what you're talking about, you need to be excited about it. If you want them to be engaged in what you're doing, you need to show up as engaged in what you're doing. If you want them to believe in your strategy, you got to talk about it like you believe in the strategy. If you want them to see value in your work, you need to value your work. If you want your audiences to take your content, the story you're telling in front of them seriously, and treat it as important. You need to take it seriously and treat it as important. We're not stepping into that moment apologetically. We're not stepping into that. Yes, you can be humble, but you don't have to be apologetic. So as as I just love that piece of research that shows something that I've seen for so many years that if you want to have an impact on others, you have to go first in demonstrating whatever the feeling, the idea, the enthusiasm it is that you want to be a contagion of, you have to be the contagion. So that's what was on my mind today.

Arthur  07:24

Hashtag contagion.

Dia Bondi  07:26

Well, it sounds crazy. But it's, it is a little bit like you have to. So on our on my monthly newsletter. Recently, I shared a book that I read a handful of years ago called a general theory of love. And I will, I will link it in the show notes for this episode. But the core thing that I got from that, from that book, which is not an easy read, but very compelling, is this how how unbelievably contagious we are, how we are in a room gets on an inn to other people, you can have a huge impact, just with how you be with one another in a room. And so how you be with this, as you tell the story of the thing that is going to move your initiative, your dream, your goal forward, recognize you have a huge impact on what happens in that room. Your Enthusiasm can be contagious, or your or your lack of enthusiasm. Your lack of commitment, like commitment is also contagious.

Arthur  08:28

If you liked the show, there are a lot of ways that you can support it. You can rate review, or subscribe on your favorite podcast app, or you can share it on social media. Also, if you have a question for Dia, you can call us at 341-333-2997 and maybe you'll hear your question answered on a future episode. All right, so we have a great guest today.

Dia Bondi  08:52

We do we have Beth sandefur. So I'm gonna tell you a little about Beth. Beth is she's a super seasoned event planner with a super strong background in in development, and hands on experience with theatrical production. So she came from theater, I think we're gonna find out from her full story. And when we say development, what we mean is fundraising, the development function that lives inside of the nonprofit world. Her efforts in general for her events, really focused on planning and execution of fundraising, Gallas, and typically, she works with really large auction components. And that's how I know her because I picked up my hobby of fundraising auctioneering for Women led nonprofits and nonprofits that benefit women and girls. And that's how we came across Beth sandefur. So as a planner, she believes in working with clients to really find the inefficiencies and redundancies in their systems. So they can create a much more streamlined approach, keeping the organizational mission always at the forefront. And that's true. She and I've worked on a couple of projects before and she's always like, how does that fundraising you know, support Mission, let's focus on the mission all the time. But she still is really good at throwing a great party. She also works as a consultant and helps integrate their annual fundraising event into year round donor development for nonprofits through auction data collection and analysis. She's sort of a data nerd, as well as creating comprehensive sponsorship proposal strategies so that they can get their their larger, you know, business committee community involved in what they do. That is built from the ground up Nobel Prize celebrations, multimillion dollar gala, fundraisers, ribbon cutting and the like. She's really interested in creating uniquely dramatic events without the drama. Okay, great. Oh, my gosh, Beth, I'm so glad to have I know, we talked about doing this a couple of weeks ago, we were both working on the creative. The creativity explored fundraiser, that was a blast to do that. I was nervous to do that one.

Beth  10:53

It was Yeah, it was it was a little different that way, we were in a very tight space for that. No,

Dia Bondi  10:58

I feel like I did a good job, though. I was it was pretty It was the first it was the first and probably will be the only fundraiser I or live auction. I will have done virtually. And that's a special kind of experience. Yes. Yes. So I'm invited you on because since llotja, Since launching project asked like an auctioneer I've met a lot of folks who in the middle of their careers are thinking about starting a nonprofits really, it's really interesting. I teach a class called your most powerful ask live. And I asked folks in the chat, we do it virtually, because that's the only way that's getting done these days. I asked folks often to say what are your goals in the chat, and surprisingly, so many folks say this is the year for me to finally start that nonprofit that's tied to a particular initiative, they really care about, you know, around autism or around, you know, helping women run for run for office or you know, this a slew of, of social impact initiatives, social impact, you know, areas that are close to folks heart. So middle of the career seems like a time where a lot of that is happening for folks. And one of the things that I've noticed since I started doing fundraising auctioneering, as an impact hobby, is how powerful and important a board is in, in your sustainability. And there's a gap between the potential a board can play the potential of the role that a board can play in fundraising over time through events or through your, you know, year over year, just sort of monthly giving, and how boards actually get assembled and what they think their role can be. So I wanted to bring you on to talk about as a fundraising expert, you are Yes, in the event space, but also around just fundraising in general. You know, annual giving, as well as month over month giving sponsorships, you know, when you talk to and collaborate with a lot of EDS, executive directors, nonprofits and their boards. I want to have you come on and talk about if a woman is starting her own nonprofit, how does she put fundraising and how she thinks strategically about fundraising? From the outset? And then how does she think about crafting a board in support of that? Yes.

Beth  13:13

That's all great. So yeah, I'm think that one thing that I think sometimes people don't realize when they're starting nonprofits, or even just about nonprofits in general is that it's something like 70 to 80% of the funds that come in come from individual donors, and not big institutional grants, and corporate sponsorships, and things like that. So there really is a lot of asking, that needs to happen because you're having you know, all of these individual gifts that are coming in. So I think that you need to be passionate about your cause you need to be able to articulate what it is like, what are you raising money for? How much money is that going to take? And what is the timeline required for whatever project it is, whether it's starting a camp or building a playground, or you know, whatever it is like what is the timeline people like that tangible thing, they like to understand that you have a plan of how you're going to accomplish this so that they feel confident, I can give my money to this person? Because there's a plan. This is how it's going to happen. So

Dia Bondi  14:11

and and is that relevant, both for donors, but also for board members? You might invite to be on your board.

Beth  14:16

Yes, yes, absolutely. I think particularly for board members that when people and I see this all the time, like with gala committees or something, oh, join the gala committee. It's like, Well, what does that mean? And you need to be able to say like we're trying to raise, like X number of dollars, and this is how much we need you to raise. So any organization as your brain on your board members, you should have goals for them. We need X number of dollars that we want to get from sponsorships and X number of dollars that we're getting from individual gifts and like how do so people can understand like, Well, how do I fit into this? Because if you just have some, you know, abstract lump sum greater good kind of thing you're going to do is someone might feel like, well, I can't contribute in a significant way to that because I'm not the kind of person that can bring, you know, a $25,000 donor to the table, but there are little other components, it's like, oh, but I can do that I could host a house party, and invite my friends, you know, to that party. So I like to have, I would encourage people to have like a gift get form for board members that like, this is what we're asking each board member to be responsible for in terms of the fundraising. And it's, you know, a table at the gala and gift of a significant, you know, amounts, you know, for your budget, and like, you know, wine for this party, and like, what all those things are, and then have the understanding that like, now me as a board member, it's my responsibility to, I'm either buying the table at the gala, or I'm getting enough of my friends together that I filled the table, but everyone's paid for their tickets individually, right. So like, I'm don't have to be personally responsible for that money, if I can get other people to chip in and make that fundraising goal. And that can be, you know, especially someone who's never been on a board before or is in an emerging, you know, role, whatever it is in their career. I mean, I'm in my mid 40s, like, I'm definitely not in the position, even though I'm doing well, where I could buy a $5,000, you know, table or make that level of gift to an organization, but I got friends, you know, and I can bring them in. So just bring all of that stuff of like breaking it down into like, very tangible goals that feel achievable, both for board members in terms of their participation. And then in terms of donors of like, this is what we were trying to achieve. People respond really well to that.

Dia Bondi  16:27

It's interesting, because I wonder if you know, eds, or you know, women who are looking at, you know, in the next 18 months, I'm going to, I'm going to create my new nonprofit, and I'm going to put a, I'm going to put together a board that, you know, do you find that new EDS shy away from or it's intimidating, I can imagine it can be intimidating for them to be that clear and direct with their board, even though they might be wanting to bring influential folks in or folks who are really committed to the, to the same kind of work that that that nonprofit is set out to do that to be that clear that we don't just want your enthusiasm and your advice. We you know, we want you to take responsibility for a portion of helping us actually make this thing sustainable. Our executive directors afraid that's gonna scare board members away,

Beth  17:15

I think yes, and no, I think a little bit has to do, which is the personality of the ad, I think that, you know, to be a successful fundraiser, you have to, you can't be afraid of making an ask, right, you can't be afraid of hearing No, like, you have to be willing to put yourself out there, you have to be willing to leverage your network. And you need to surround yourself with people who are also willing to do all of those things. So I know I mean, I know development directors that don't like making asks, and I'm like, I don't understand how you have your job. That's all your job

Dia Bondi  17:43

is, for folks. And for folks who are not in the not in the nonprofit space or looking to enter it, what is the development director and what is their role,

Beth  17:50

so development director is going to be within the nonprofit, the person who is primarily responsible for the fundraising goals of the organization. Now you may have, you know, executive director or a CEO, if it's an arts organization, you might also have an artistic director that they are going to play big roles, and particularly the major asks, but sort of the day to day Annual Fund, you know, fundraising, your development director is really the one that's helping identify prospects, you know, writing the letters, having meetings with donors, they may have staff that works with them, but they're the like, day to day core fundraising.

Dia Bondi  18:25

And in the beginning of a nonprofit, I would imagine that if you are the Ed and the founder of the nonprofit, you are also the development director. And when I'm hearing you say is before you go recruit a board before you start imagining for yourself, what the what the board might look like and who might be who might be on it for you to actually write like a board, job description, with with you know, here's what, here's the type of folks we're looking for. And also, here's the commitment that they're making when they say yes to coming on as a board and and thinking through that before you even start approaching individuals. So that you have a strong story about not just the who, but the what the expectation is if they say yes to it. Yep, absolutely. I love that. And that I mean, I can imagine that comes in some sort of strategic document or a, you know, a brochure of some sort that says, like, Hey, we're gonna have a conversation about you coming on as a board member. Before we do take a look at like what it means to be a board member with us. Yep. Yeah, kind of a ball. It's kind of a baller and forward move. But it seems really critical. I remember, a few years ago I did I got to do the fundraiser auctioneering for an organization in San Francisco dedicated to ending racism through digital storytelling and developing the next generation of diverse digital storytellers. And in folks in production and you know, video making and moviemaking, etc. And I went to one of their board meetings. And the ed is like, I mean, she's no joke. She's not afraid to ask she's like, go go go all of that. But she's also got to enter development directors, awesome. But they've got 12 board members and I remember We're sitting in the room with them. And when I talked about, Hey, I'm going to be in the room at the event to make the ask on behalf of this organization and its mission. But leading up to that, here's what you can do to make sure that that's successful. And I talked about recruiting their friends, I talked about getting sponsorships, I talked about how, you know, making asks and finding out if they can't ask for cash from their communities, maybe asking for a donation of their, you know, their kick ass taho cabin for a week as a live auction item, et cetera, you know, you're buying a batch of of tickets to come to the gala. Those all, you know, pooling money to make a big give whatever it might be. And I can see their eyes just sort of getting bit and these folks were like senior executives, at the brands that you all have in your computers, and in your households right now. And so it can be intimidating, even for your board member your board to see themselves as accountable for that kind of thing to go to their community and make those asks as well, what do folks do about that? Wow,

Beth  21:01

gosh, that's a good question. I mean, I think that it's important to find people who are passionate about your your cause right, and are willing to jump in again, I mentioned it before the give get approach that like, okay, maybe you don't do all this, but you help bring the people in. So you're helping meet that. So that can feel like it's taking some of, you know, the pressure off. And then I think that it's important once you get board members coming on to provide training for people, like do retreats, where you're talking about, like, your board should be able to, at any minimum, like recite your mission statement and at least be able to speak in broad terms about these are the programs that we have, they don't need to know all the minutiae. But if you can sort of give them that, you know, kind of training and sort of backgrounds, they at least understand what you do. And he would be surprised how many board members do not know those things for organizations that they're on. And then, you know, in terms of like making asks, I mean, I remember back when I was still in housing, a nonprofit, and we were doing a capital campaign, we had members of our board that had never made campaign asks before, and we set up role playing where we had board members asking other board members for their capital campaign gift. So it was that, okay, we're gonna treat this as though this is a donor, you know, one of our non board member donors, and you're gonna make the ask, but because it's your fellow board member, like it's, it's less pressure that way, and you at least get to try it out. And, you know, see how it goes. So I think doing stuff like that. And so I think that as you're bringing board members on, if that's part of it, too, like, Yes, we have these requirements, you know, that we need people to meet. But this is also what we're how we're going to support you and make you feel empowered, and make you feel successful. Because honestly, at the end of the day, people give to other people, they don't give to causes. I mean, they do you know, cancer, Alzheimer's, whatever, like, yes, causes are important, but it's much more about the relationship between people to people and major donors, any donors, they're gonna respond more to, my friend asked me to support this, than they will to, oh, the staff member at organization x asked me for this gift, and there's an at certain income threshold, the circles, whatever, there's kind of a quid pro quo thing of like, you know, dia came to me today and said, You know, I'm really passionate about, you know, this Art Institute, you know, when you attend the gala, and I attend the gala, and I make a gift in the funding mean, and then I know that when I have, you know, my school auction, I'm gonna be like, hey, do like it was so I had so much fun with you at that Art Institute gala, like you should come be at my table at my school, Gala. And D is going to do it, right, there's that like I'm going to give to your organization you're going to give to mine. So I think that letting making sure board members know that like that is a natural relationship to have with your network. It also makes it less scary to be like, you're not just asking for money, hoping for the goodness of their heart. And whenever like there's an understanding of a reciprocal relationship. I think that's important for board members to understand.

Dia Bondi  23:53

That's fantastic. I love it seems like there's a theme here to have like, Don't underestimate or don't overestimate the confidence your boards might have in going out and making the ask and this this idea of in your little briefing document that you might share with potential board members, you know, what their response when they're saying yes to being on the board, what they're also saying yes to in terms of fundraising, or tapping their network for all kinds of the aspects that go into the fundraising. But also, you know, what you're going to do to help them be successful is super smart. So that it so that, that they feel enabled, and also they're going to get some professional development out of it, to be honest, I mean, we have to make asks and approaching our community to get you know, to get more of what we need to reach our goals, spans, not just you know, the work we do in the area of fundraising, but you know, lots of places in our lives. So it can be really confidence building if you give folks the tools to actually be able to action, the potential of their own networks to fund the things that really matter. So how did you end up in fundraising?

Beth  24:54

I'm gonna come from a performing arts background. I worked in theater companies and at some point I founded the theatre company on a base in Germany where I was running I had been I was an actor and a singer, and then started a theatre company. And when I was living in Germany and you know, got into the administrative side of the arts, and then when I moved back to the States, I was just working in various theatre companies in marketing and development and fundraising positions. And after moving to California, I was running a lot of the events at the theater that I was at. And it just got to a point where I was like, I'm feel like I've done everything I can do here, if all I did was playing our gala, all year long, I would be happy. So I started my own event planning company. And in the beginning, I was like, Oh, I can do corporate events. And I can do weddings. And I can like, I can do it all. And I can, but there are three very different segments of the event market. And fundraising is just, it's what I know, I think that in terms of fundraising events, you have to be able to throw a good party that people want to attend and want to come back to you. But you have to do in a way that you're still telling the story of the organization, and keeping that mission forefront within the excellent party that people are attending. And it's just a very specific skill set that I have. And so it like it's a very, you know, sort of niche market. And particularly when you start getting into fundraising auctions, I love an auction. And I get obsessed with the data that you can collect around bitter behavior, and how does that inform your strategy. And because I was once not only throwing the annual events at my last theater company, but also doing their annual fund management. I like to think about how does everything that happens at the gala translate into the fundraising that we're doing all year long? And it's I've just sort of settled into this very specific niche of, you know, fundraising events, but I love it.

Dia Bondi  26:44

What are some of the data trends or bitter behaviors, and when we say bitter for folks who are listening, we mean in a, in a live auction, maybe also in a silent auction, when folks are raising their paddles and saying, Yes, I'll pay for that at this level and competing for the winning bid. Now, whether it's virtual or live, I don't know how the data, you know, what the data shows you in terms of data, you know, better behavior. But what are some of the interesting insights about bitter behavior that might be surprising to us,

Beth  27:11

I mean, people are motivated to get by different by, you know, different reasons motivate people to give. So I, for example, at my last theater had one of our most major donors, like one of our top four donors, she never gave to the annual fund that she only like bid large in the auction because she wanted to be raising her panel in that room where everyone could see, you know, that she was, you know, doing it. So when I think about bitters, I tend to break it down into sort of three categories that you have your bidders, who are just there to shop in the auction, they want stuff in exchange for their money, you have the pledgers, who are people that are maybe not shopping so much in the auction, but they're giving to your paddle, raise your funding, eat or special appeal, whatever you're calling it, and then you have your super supporters who are doing both, you know, and you will know who those people are, before we ever walk in the room. Like they'll have bought the table. They're giving big in this special appeal. They're giving you know, big in the in the shopping big in the auction like this kind of those, you know, three tiers and actually did some work with my Theatre Company. And we were talking about raising ticket prices. And we were trying to figure out, what percentage of like, what percentage can we raise each sticker price and we had like a gold, silver bronze sort of ticket structure. Gold, obviously, with a super supporters, people assumed that like, Oh, well, our silver ticket buyers, like they're kind of also they're like many sort of super supporters. But when we looked at the data, the silver supporters, they were buying that ticket level, so they could get their name on the invitation. And then maybe they buy a raffle ticket or make a small gift in the in the paddle raise, but like they weren't really doing much. And it was the bronze ticket buyers like the cheap tickets, that were actually spending a ton of money in the auction and were super active in the auction. So it was like, oh, okay, well, that I'm then percentage wise, the silver tickets are going to get a larger percentage bump, because they're just gonna go with it because they want their name on the invitation. And my bronze ticket buyers might go like that's where my auction, you know, sort of traffic is. So it's sort of also flipped that paradigm of thinking that like, Oh, these are our cheap ticket buyers. It's like, No, those are your auction bidders, you know, they're just buying maybe it's the lower price so they have more money to spend on auction. You know, who knows, but you can't just assume that the people that are buying the most expensive tickets are the ones that are then also bidding the most in the auction. I think that's one of the things I've seen.

Dia Bondi  29:26

Very, very interesting. Since I picked up this impact hobby. I have seen and heard conversations from Fundraising Professionals like you and from EDS that as fundraiser events have moved away, have moved more strongly toward only a direct pledge and for folks who are new to this, a direct pledge or a funding need or a paddle raises a moment in in a fundraising experience where you literally from stage just say we're now taking direct donations and people put their they bid either with a bidding tool on On a mobile device, or they put their paddle in the air, and they're just making a direct pledge in exchange for nothing else other than, you know, whatever they get internally for themselves, and they make that pledge, whether it's about relationship or the altruism of the event, or you know, or the the cause the cause itself. So I have heard a handful of folks say that they have actually done better at their fundraising events without actually having to put together a live auction for items in exchange for money. But that direct they've been able to raise equal amounts year over a year and even beat their fundraising goals. With only a direct pledge. Is that true? And are you seeing that as well? And why do you think that is?

Beth  30:40

I think it depends on the organization. I mean, honestly, I did an auction, I did a virtual event last night that had both an auction and a paddle raise. And I've seen their live auction just declining over the years, they're not getting bread, they used to get great items, they're not getting as great items, like they don't have a lot of bitter engagement. And it's something that I think for them, I would want to suggest, like, what if we give the auction arrest for a few years and just do like, focus all your attention and energy on your funding and just try to get in the funds and like not do the auction? You know, but then I have other auctions, where I mean, they're raising hundreds of 1000s of dollars, and it's like, Okay, well, it's working, like don't take it away. So there tends to be a lifecycle to donors is about a seven year lifecycle that someone's going to be really, the average donor is going to be really active with your organization that applies both to auction items, you know, things get stale, you have to mix them up. You know, again, the the sort of shopper versus pleasure, you know, kind of mentality, like I think if you're going to have an auction in your event every year, you just need to keep making it fresh. I have an auctioneer friend colleague, we both have in common. He likes to say five new bidders five new items every year, to sort of keep things fresh. And I think some organizations, and this is a trap that I think you can fall into, like I have my board, I have my auction items, I have my things like I'm a set. But if you're not constantly infusing new energy into that, and understanding that after X number of years, something's going to be stale, someone's gonna have life changes and not be as invested. Like you have to constantly be feeding your pipeline. And so I think where I feel like I see auctions suffer over years is when people aren't feeding the pipeline to keep it fresh.

Dia Bondi  32:19

So for folks who might be listening to this show, and thinking about, you know, the next 18 months is the year I'm going to start my nonprofit, and I'm going to host maybe my very first fundraising event. I mean, I want to ask the question, like, what should they be considering? But I want to start with, is it okay to have a first year where you don't hustle a bunch of items or consigned items for auction, but instead, experiment with just a direct pledge moment? Or do you want at your first fundraising event to have a mix of things, you can see what performs best,

Beth  32:55

I think it's absolutely okay to not have an auction and your first, whatever your first fundraising event, I think you should always have that cash appeal, you know, the funding need calories like that, you should always be asking for street donations. Maybe your first year or something like a raffle or a wine bin, you know, kind of thing isn't easy, but I don't think you should feel the pressure of Oh, we have to have all these silent auction items and a live auction items, unless you have the network to put it together. Like if you've got those resources, great, put it together. If you don't, then don't focus, I would rather see people focusing on the funding need, and just getting in those donations and having an event, you know, particularly a first time event, like just building the audience for it and building the brand around the events and getting people into like, oh, the our events is the third Saturday, you know, or every March, you know, like that kind of thing. And like start folding in the auction when you have a network, you know, and the resources to have really great auction items.

Dia Bondi  33:52

So if you have your first fundraising and for you're brand new, you're brand new nonprofit you've been dreaming about for the last decade. And and you're gonna decide to go with a funded need only or a paddle raise or direct pledge, whatever we're calling it, it's a moment in the event where you ask for people to just simply give you money, what are some of the best practices around around making that task?

Beth  34:16

Um, a few things, again, having tangible goals, you know, we're trying to raise X number of dollars, you know, for this project or whatever, being able to break down so that people understand what their money does. And you don't always have to be like, Oh, well $10,000 buys this many books and $5,000 funds this many students for this program or whatever it is, like some you can, if you have that kind of stats, you can leave them in, that's great. Some people will respond to that. Other people will respond to the story of, you know, Ashley, who came to juvenile arthritis camp and was able to, you know, interact with other kids who also had juvenile arthritis for the first time and like, this is how her life was changed. No, it's more the impact like we do work the impacts Kids like Ashley, right? Like that kind of thing. So there's kind of, and there's, that's a six of one half a dozen of the other kind of approach, like they both work equally, it's just a different approach. But I think that not just for this kind of moment, but for really any fundraising that you're doing, it's still pretty old school, like the old school stuff still applies so much about fundraising is relationships and cultivating those relationships. And, you know, you can't just have an event or have an online campaign and like hope that people will come like, you need to be having conversations with people, you know, getting on the phone, and, you know, this is important to us, and we hope that you're able to participate, and, you know, can we count on you for a gift, and like, having all of those face to face on the phone, you know, however, people are communicating, but like actual conversations with people getting them to buy in, to the concept of what you're doing, and like throwing their support behind you.

Dia Bondi  35:55

I love what you pointed out that, you know, in the pre work, you know, can we count on you for x is about having a few key folks or, or you know, maybe they're big, big donors, maybe they're coming in at the middle tier where whatever that means for your organization, but for them to be able to commit verbally to something, before they even show up, then the making the ask is a lot about the ritual of doing a collective give, which can make folks in the room, your donors feel part of something, which has value to them, you know, to make a public show of support and be celebrated by the people around them. And to be part of the collective give is a very fulfilling experience for folks. So I mean, having made the asks on behalf of nonprofit organizations that that I've been, you know, engaged with for my impact hobby that that is material in the room,

Beth  36:45

or you're brought to tears all the time at different events, when I'm seeing, you know, pals going up and the tally me and raising, you know, people really rallying around whenever caught, like all the time, you know, and you'd think I mean, I do like 50 events a year. So you would think it would be old hat to me at this point. But I still have those moments where I'm just like, it's so great, you know, to see people really like to gather in that moment, you know, supporting whatever organization that is.

Dia Bondi  37:08

So I heard that the two best practices when you're in the room, whether three, maybe that I'm just going to name out loud that I heard you say that seem like they're standouts. To me, one is to secure the bag before people even walk in the room as much as you possibly can. So that the the ask in the room around that battle raise moment is really just, it's just the the actioning of a decision that's already been made to is that you can use storytelling as a setup for the Ask your example of Ashley is really beautiful. And if you have an opportunity to even especially for a new nonprofit that maybe hasn't even, you know, the, I would say that the the, you haven't done anything yet. Yeah, you're at the beginning of the journey. But finding those those parallel experiences that reflect the kind of impact that you're going to be having or adding to, can be a really great way to set up and make concrete the what the money in the room is going to make possible. And then third, I heard you say, get really clear with and have a plan for saying out loud to the room as you make the ask in between making asks at different levels, or as you set up the ask to make it clear what the money actually does. You know, tonight, if it's a fun to need, maybe it's you know, tonight we are, we are funding a particular program that we're launching this year that costs $125,000. Here's what you know, all of the people who are served by this program get so people can people can see something concrete and tie their donation to an actual thing that's happening in the world, all the way down to saying, you know, $100 funds, you know, a family getting delivered meals, you know, 10 times a month, and we want to support, you know, 250 families this year, for example, yeah, that this has been super helpful. And for those of you listening in or dreaming about starting your nonprofit, and you recognize the that fundraising is an integral part in you being able to really fulfill your impact dream with the resources required to do that. You know, you see that use, I hope you We hope you got something meaningful and a place to start, and a few frameworks and mental frameworks that you can use while you engage a board that's going to be meaningful in your in your journey, and also a few fundraising strategies as you think about you know, hosting your very first event. Beth, thank you so much for being with us. How can people find you and what can they do with you?

Beth  39:42

Well, thank you for having me. It's been fun. I'm at Beth Santa for pretty much everywhere. I'm on Instagram. I my website is just Beth Sandiford calm, which I assume might get posted in some show notes or something like that. So I mean, I'm, you know, primarily, you know, and I build myself as a fundraiser outages. So definitely event production. But I work exclusively with nonprofits on fundraising events. So if you're thinking about having a fundraising event, and you need an event planner, great, you should call me but just know that I also like to dig into the strategy and ROI of how you're coming up with your auction procurement strategy. I work with clients on coming up with like revamping sponsor benefits structure, and there's sort of different ways to do it. And I, you know, I've got job descriptions and board training, you know, materials and that sort of thing. Like, I work a lot with boards and having, you know, launch meetings and, you know, facilitating all of their, their stuff as we're going along. So everyone understands their role. So it's because I come from that nonprofit fundraising background, I never think of an event as a single day event. To me, it's like, how does this piece play into the larger hole and and really come at my event planning practice with that in mind.

Dia Bondi  40:59

Alright, so that was great.

Arthur  41:01

Yeah, very interesting.

Dia Bondi  41:02

I just, it's, it's surprising to me how many folks I'm meeting in the middle of their careers who are, you know, wanting to start nonprofits. And it's, it's, it's important to wait, you know, recognize the interdependence between, you know, fundraising, your ability to fundraise and the ability to actually fulfill your mission period. So having Beth on today was perfect. I hope everyone got a place to start. What stood out for you, you don't you don't live you don't live in and around the nonprofit world much. But is there anything that stood out for you

Arthur  41:30

know, you know, I've always been a person that's donated money to causes, but I haven't really, I've never been to a charity auction. I've never been to a gala that I can think of. But the stuff about the different tiers of ticket holders that she was talking about was kind of interesting that like, you would think the bronze people are just there, maybe they're just to go see the cheap seats. Yeah, but that they were the ones in this particular organization that were bidding on the auction vendors actual, high and the high ticket people weren't? Yeah, that's pretty interesting. super interesting. Just from like a sociological perspective. Yeah, I

Dia Bondi  42:11

think it's just you never know what you're going to get. And I guess that's the power also of you know, of data. And it's always been interesting to me that Beth, when I first met her, she was like, I'm super into the data. And I was like, what does that mean? And, and a perfect example of how you can use data to make some really strategic decisions and notice, like where your money is actually coming from,

Arthur  42:29

you would think that that kind of super micro data analysis would have been part of the nonprofit game for a long time. But it seems like it's not,

Dia Bondi  42:39

I think it's not I also thought it was interesting point that she said, you know, the the old school stuff still applies, you still got to call the people that are your supporters, you still have to reach out and it's very, you know, it's a slog to confirm those few people now, in the time that I who, you know, can we count on you for $1,000 donation? Can we count on you for $5,000, in some of the events that I got to do when I started auctioneering for, you know, as as a hobby, like, you know, one of the most critical things that the development director in the Ed and the board did was to confirm the largest donations, at least one so we knew that that the highest maybe we're going to be starting at a you know, at a $25,000 donation for the for the fund in need, and then work our way down, down and make asks that we're less than less than less until we got $200, or whatever, you know, to know that we had 25 that first that 21 $25,000 gives secured before we walked in the room made a huge difference in how confident the event felt for people and how, how much it just sort of ignited the rest of the giving. So yeah, that prework that old school, call your friends, you know, have them make a promise. Right? Well, thanks, baby for being with me here today. And I wanted to say that you know, we started this episode talking about, you know, going first and if you go to Dr. Bondi calm, you're gonna find something called the 21 which are the 21 most you know, strategic, direct and actionable strategies you can use when you get in front of audiences that matter to your goals, the 21 things you can do to have more impact in that moment and the first thing you can do is go first. So go to Dia Bondi Communications, find that find that tool right there on on the website.

Arthur  44:27

Right? You know, I thought you were gonna say we started the episode talking about my purple pants.

Dia Bondi  44:31

I mean, I cannot guarantee that there is an opt in to get yourself a pair of purple pants, but maybe we can do an opt in to get a picture of baby a in his purple pants.

Arthur  44:42

Yeah, I can try to find a picture maybe that that we can put in the show notes. I love it, you and your programs by everybody.


The Dia Bondi Show is a production of Dia Bondi Communications and is produced by baby a please Like, share, rate, and subscribe at Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your favorite podcast. Do you have a question for Dia about an important ask in your life? Give us a call at 341-333-2997 and maybe you'll hear your question answered on a future episode.

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