A Fundraising “Sale” vs. an “Offer” – Who Knew There Was Such a Difference?

Photo by asanet29

Photo by asanet29

Take the pressure off your fundraising “sales” by creating a pressure-free fundraising “offer.”  Read on for more about how to increase your revenue with “No Pressure” fundraising offers.  It’s a win-win!!

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Oh, what a difference a word can make…

When we started overseeing fundraising at our local school, our largest annual fundraiser was selling giftwrap.   Every other year, our PTO hosted a large capital fundraising event (dinner, dancing, raffles, silent and live auction items… you know the drill).  But, our largest annual fundraiser was selling giftwrap and the accompanying sale items.

Let us first say, we like wrapping paper… and chocolates and candles and bags and cookies and flowers and spirit wear.  We are not saying that selling items as a fundraiser is bad.  It isn’t.  There is a place for fundraising “sales” in any multi-faceted fundraising program.  They often take relatively little organizational effort, limited volunteer hours and can have a fairly good “bang for your buck,” so to speak.

The issue arose when at the end of the 3-week sale, only 50% of our projected income goal had been met.

Did people not have time to sell?  Would more time help?  Did people just have a closet full of wrapping paper so they didn’t want or need any more?  Was buying paper just not a financial priority in the current economic environment?   What should we do???

Our PTO operates on a balanced budget.  If we couldn’t raise the money on the fundraising side then we would need to cut something from our services side.  An assembly?  Family Science Night?  Oh, no…

So we did what many fundraising groups do – we sent out a message.  We extended the sale deadline and made clear to our population just how important their selling was. In truth, what followed was probably a bit of guilt-induced paper purchasing by our very loyal families and friends.  And we felt badly.

What we came to realize is that there is a difference between a fundraising “sale” and a fundraising “offer.”

It starts in the budget

When you are creating your yearly budget or your fundraising goal for your organization, think about what is a reasonable outcome from your event without hard-selling, without pushing your “sale” on your supporters.  No guilt, no pressure, just a kind, respectful request for support by purchasing what you are “offering.”  This should be your budget.  Part of what gives fundraising a bad name is people feeling that they have to buy something they don’t really want or need.  If the budget is reasonable and realistic, then your supporters will be supporting your organization because they WANT to, pressure free.

Pick the items that you are going to “offer”

  • You should seek to find high quality, needed or desired products that you are proud to represent and bring to your supporters.
  • Find products that your supporters are already purchasing anyway or will find useful.
  • Bring them something they wouldn’t find or have access to somewhere else.

You can create a win-win situation: you are offering them great products or services that they want and/or need, and they are supporting your fundraising goals.

In the end, we did have more fundraising “offers” throughout the course of the year – but our message to families was to purchase what they WANTED to purchase, and not what they felt they HAD to purchase.  We wanted them to find the fundraising events that worked for their family.  It might be supporting a dine-out at a local restaurant, buying giftwrap or bags or pie, maybe it was a gift card for a babysitter at the holidays.

But they key is – no pressure!  This will change people’s thinking about your fundraising and help to develop a positive relationship with your supporters, making it easier to approach them with your next fundraising “offer.”

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