2 Fresh Takes: Save Time, Money…and Your Sanity!

Fall is a CRAZY time for fundraisers. Your end-of-year appeal looms large. There’s a grant deadline (or three) every week. You’re scrambling to connect with major donors before they get busy with the holidays. And you are likely hosting at least one fundraising or cultivation event between now and December 31. 

If you lie awake at night wondering how the heck you’ll get it all done, consider these fresh takes on old tactics to save you time, money – and your sanity!

1. Salon(s) Instead of Gala 

Some of your donors undoubtedly love your gala. But how many, really? And do you and your fellow staffers love it? 

Galas are expensive to produce and yield a limited return on investment. Instead of the traditional sit-down dinner with silent and live auctions, consider scaling back. “Salon events” – small parties hosted in a private home – are more doable and can be very lucrative. Plus salons are more intimate and thus great for building relationships with your prospects and donors.

Try this: Find a board member or close friend of the organization to host. Provide appetizers (not a full dinner!) for 2-3 hours. Your host might underwrite the catering bill, and if not, your organization can do so. Invite a mix of your organization’s major givers and the host’s personal contacts. 

Plan a short program – a few words from your leadership (think executive director or board chair) and the clients whose lives you have changed for the better. Then MAKE AN ASK. Make sure you are prepared to take contributions right then and there! Specifically, have pledge/donation forms available or bring your laptop to take donations online that night. 

Perhaps you can pull off a salon event every 2-3 months, or every month if you’re ambitious and you have a number of willing and ready hosts. You won’t raise all of your event revenue in one night, but you’ll be surprised how proceeds from salon events can accumulate over the course of a year.

2. Fact Sheet Instead of Brochure

How much does your organization spend each year on the design and printing of a glossy informational brochure? Is yours a tri-fold that you stuff it into envelopes along with your annual fund letter? It is never a quick process to design this piece, and always a guessing game on how many to print. Do you ever wonder how many just get tossed?

Consider a different take for your materials this fall. Have your graphic designer create a handsome one-page fact sheet instead. Maybe it’s an 8.5 x 11” for use in meetings. Maybe there’s a 3.5 x 9” version that fits in an envelope. Include your logo and your web address. 

Include photos, infographics and a small amount of text. Print it in color on heavier stock. And you’re done! I know several organizations that have designed a piece like this in-house using MS Word. For 3,000 copies, you’ll want help from a professional printer. But for other needs throughout the year, you can easily edit or update the information and then print it in your very own office. 

With the deluge of information our donors face every day, and their decreasing interest in reading paper materials (or any materials at all!), smart fundraisers are spending less on old-school brochures. A fact sheet will often do the trick, and you can always follow up with more information as needed for your major prospects.

Ready to ditch pre-printed materials all together? Check out ForImpact’s article on the power of engagement tools.

Thoughts? Feedback? What are your suggestions for fresh takes? Please share your experiences, thoughts and ideas in the Comments box below! 

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click).