In this webinar, Terry Axelrod will lead you through a step-by-step process for “missionizing” each of your events and designing a sustainable system of events that furthers your engagement of individual donors and grows major gifts.

Full transcript:

Steven: All right. Terry, I got one o’clock Eastern. Okay, if I go ahead and get this party started?
Terry: Yes, it is.
Steven: All right. Cool. Well, good afternoon, everyone if you are on the East Coast. Good morning if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Missionizing Your Year-End Fundraising Event.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the chief engagement officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
Just a couple of housekeeping items before we get started here, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and will be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on today. If you didn’t already get the slides, I’ll get those to you for sure. So, just keep an eye out for those, so, if you have to leave early or maybe you want to review the content later on, I’ll get all that good stuff in your hands today. I promise.
Most importantly as you are listening today, please feel free to chat in any of the questions that you may have. We’re going to try to save as much time at the end for Q&A. So, don’t be shy, don’t sit on those hands, I’ll be moderating those or keeping an eye on the chat throughout the next hour. So, you can also send us your questions over Twitter if you’d rather do that.
And if you have any trouble with the audio through your computer, try dialing in by phone. We usually find that the phone audio is a little bit better than the computer audio. So, if you got a phone nearby and if that’s comfortable for you, give that a try before you totally give up on us there. Should be a phone number that you can dial into in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour or so ago today.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say a special welcome to you as well. We do these webinars just about every week. Actually, got two this week, so it’s really fun. But in addition to that, we are a provider of donor management software, so if you are interested in that or just kind of curious about what we have going on at Bloomerang, check out our website. Don’t do that now because you’re in for a real treat or presentation here but maybe a little later on, you can check us out. You can even download a quick video demo and see the software in action. So, I’ll leave that to you if you are interested.
But for now, I’m really happy to invite back one of our favorites. Man, it seems like it’s been too long. We love having Terry on to present about a myriad of things. She’s going to talk about year-end events specifically. So, Terry, how’s it going? Thanks for being here. Are you doing okay today?
Terry: Yep, just doing great. Excited to be here.
Steven: Yeah. I just want to brag on you really quickly. If you guys don’t know, Terry, if you don’t know Benevon, you got to check them out. Awesome, awesome resource for nonprofits. And Terry definitely knows her stuff. She’s got over 30 years of experience. She’s been in your shoes. She’s been a development director. Now over at Benevon, she’s helping people raise tons of money. I’ve seen it happen and since I’ve been knowing her the last few years, millions and millions of dollars, I think actually maybe even billions now. But she is a master in what she’s going to talk about. And I don’t want to take any more time away from her. So, Terry, I’m going to let you tell us all about optimizing those year-end fundraising events. So, take it away, my friend.
Terry: Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you all very much. And we’re really delighted to be partners with Bloomerang. I’ll say more about that as we go along. So happy holidays, everyone. In case you haven’t noticed, what I’ve noticed, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet and man, all of the holiday decorations are out, the holiday displays are out. I happened to be at some mall over the weekend and you would have thought it was the week before Christmas. And I have a feeling you’re feeling that also in your organization.
I remember well, being a development director and certainly with all the development directors and other nonprofit staff we work with. By this time of year you’re already getting calls from people asking if their employees can donate a holiday basket of food and clothing to one of your needy children or families. What should they include in the basket? How many children does the family have? Where should they drop the basket off or some other events that are seeming to distract you from what you had hoped to accomplish before the end of the year. So much going on.
So, as I go through the webinar today, I’d like you to start by making a quick list just for yourself of the events that you still have before the end of the year to pull off. Whether it’s a holiday gathering, just internally for the staff, whether it’s a donor cultivation event, whether it’s the holiday basket, or the tree lighting, or the wish cards going out, or just the holiday greeting cards going out, there’s all that extra stuff that comes to the development department this time of year. And it’s not an illusion. There really is a lot of work coming your way.
So, would you make a list, please, of at least two or three of the additional things coming your way so that we can use those as examples as I go through this whole webinar on missionizing your year-end events. Really the holiday time can be rather than a time of celebration, it can be a time of dread and annoyance for people. So, just want to make this a pleasant season for everyone.
And really to figure out the goal is, how to convert these groups, these people that you’re meeting over the holidays into year-round donors, what we call it Benevon lifelong donors. How to create a relationship with them? How to use the holidays which is the time of such real joy, and relationship, and generosity? How to use this time of year as a way to build those relationships, so that even if it’s after the first of the year you have a reason to call people back and say, “It was so great seeing you over the punchbowl of the holidays at the reception. May we get together for coffee, or lunch, or breakfast, or whatever to talk a little bit more?” So, again, a huge time of opportunity this season of the holidays.
So, here we go. Let’s look into kind of the . . . some of the content I want to get into here. Here is our title slide and the Benevon model. I’ll be using examples from the book I’ve written called “Missionizing Your Special Events: How to Build a System of Events that Engages Donors Who Will Stay with You for Life.” And there is a section, quite a section in here on holiday giving and holiday events but the template and the nomenclature just defined in this book is what I’ll be using and I’ll reference some of the page numbers as I go along. And I’ll tell you at the end how you can get the book from our website if you are interested.
So, by the end of the webinar, you should be able to list out all the events you have happening year round, not just at the holidays and categorize them into our system, our Benevon we call it System of Events that will allow you to infuse the mission into every event that you’re doing and use these events if you are going to keep them, rather than do away with them. To use them to build those lifelong relationships and ultimately, major donors and that is the goal.
Okay. So, the Benevon model. I am the founder of Benevon. We are 22 years old. We’ve worked with just about 6,000 nonprofit teams to customize this model and to build lifelong donors. As Steven said, our groups have raised over a billion dollars now. We’re very proud of that. Many of you are familiar with the name of culture of philanthropy, the whole concept of it which is very popular in the nonprofit world.
This slide came from the “Underdeveloped” report done by Compass Point, which delineates the culture . . . what a culture of philanthropy really is. And that’s what you’re aiming to do as you missionize your holiday events. And have people in the organization, everyone in your organization act as an ambassador promoting philanthropy, can articulate a case for giving. It’s not just the development department.
In fact, fund development is viewed and valued as a mission aligned program of the organization. It’s not something that’s just off to the side and the program staff are doing the holy sacred work and the development department is kind of doing that nasty thing called fundraising. There are systems established to a support donors such as the systems I’m going to be covering with you today. And your top leaders are committed and personally involved.
What we found at Benevon is that when groups begin to adopt our model deeply, both for events and for major gifts, they go even beyond culture of philanthropy which this is an excellent definition and certainly a goal to strive for. But if you’ll notice, all of this is about internal. This is within the organization — the staff promote philanthropies. There are systems for the top leader that’s all internal.
At Benevon, we found, if you hang you know with this whole approach and really are rigorous about it, you will bring about what we call “A Culture of Engagement,” which is where the external community is so invested in your mission that they are breathing oxygen. It’s as if they’re breathing oxygen right into your organization and keeping it going. So that if you leave and others leave, you know, 20 or 40 years down the road, that organization will be supported and sourced by the community. That’s what we’re looking for, those kinds of donors. People for whom your organization’s mission is really their mission in life. It’s something that really they are passionate about and that won’t be everyone.
So, we’re going to cover today the four types of events. I won’t go into them here but this is the ultimate destination of our talk today. And I’m going to start by telling you about the Benevon model which I’ll cover all four of them as I go through. So, the first event, the first type of event, and this is if you are taking the list that you made of your events before the end of the year. and frankly, events that you do all year round, and you were to categorize them, they could go into one of these four categories. The first type of event is what we call Point of Entry. I’m sorry, I neglected this slide. I’m going to talk to you about Five Key Metrics also that make the model work.
So, first type of event is called the Point of Entry. Point of entry is a sizzling one hour give, acquainted event about your organization. So, if you’re doing things over the holidays that are a way for people to get acquainted with you, they could be used as part of a point of entry. This is an event that you will do twice a month. Two times a month you’ll be putting them on. You want to have at least two that are privately hosted, each one hosted and filled with 10 or more guests by a volunteer that we refer to as an Ambassador.
So, think about this, if you’ve got people who are saying, “I’ve got a group of friends, I’d like to put on a little event for your organization over the holidays.” Perhaps, that’s a person that could put up become an ambassador and host a point of entry. So, I’ll tell you more about what a point of entry includes. Again, you’re doing these twice a month, it’s year-round minimum where you’ve got a volunteer or a student.
An example of the school where I implemented this. We have a student greeting people right out in front, was a sign-in table and everyone knew because they’ve been told by the ambassador, their friend who invited them, that they would be asked to fill out a little sign-in card and they would be receiving one follow-up phone call afterwards from a staff member at the organization to get their feedback. Not to ask them for money. And, please, be thinking about other people in their lives that might want to know about this as they take the tour.
There’s a little time for mingling, looking at photos on the walls, and then the program begins right on time with a welcome from an ambassador, talk from the visionary leader, that’s the CEO or executive director, with two minutes of the five minute talk being dedicated to their personal connection to the mission. Why is this place so important to them?
Everything we do at Benevon is about mission. Everything we do is sharing the authentic passion of the people involved in the organization. So, two minutes of personal connection, one minute to brag about the results in three bucket areas. We take all that you do if you’ve got 10 programs or 20 programs or a 5 programs and cluster them into three broad bucket areas like supporting individuals, strengthening families, building community. And then the visionary leader brags about something that’s happening in each of those areas. And then two minutes on the vision for the future with a big enough gap between the present and the future that people will say, “Wow, she’s got a real dream for this place and she’s going to need some help to get there.”
Then we get up and walk around, take a tour, three stops, each stop we tell a myth, a Myth-Buster Fact, a story, and a need. And the stories are told usually first person if it’s possible

for an audio tape or sometimes third person by a staff member that has worked with that client in making some of these examples. So, the stories are very powerful. It’s not just a script that you’re reading. They’re actually very original and authentic storytelling. Then we end with a live testimonial, where someone gets up and talks about how your organizations changed their life. And often, this is the most powerful moment.
At our school, where I started this model we had a teacher who had been a student at the school. His dream had been to grow up and become a teacher and come back to the school. And he was . . . so, he was always on the premises, so as we started doing these twice a month and eventually quite a bit more frequently than that, he was always there to come and talk to people and his story was incredibly compelling.
In fact, by the end of the point of entry, people had been moved to tears several times. Every single time we did a point of entry, that’s how good the stories have to be and really authentic. People can detect if this isn’t the real thing.
So, we end with the ambassador thanking everyone for coming and saying, you know, “Please, take the call from Susan when she calls. She went in a couple days to get your feedback and if you’ve been thinking of anyone else in your life, if you were part of a group of your own friends, or book club, etc., when she calls you perhaps you would agree to become an ambassador also, because the very best way you can help us is to spread the word about what we’re doing. And that is the truth.”
Okay. So, step two in our model is a follow-up call. Our metric for this is that we get one new . . . minimum, one new volunteer ambassador out of each point of entry event. So, if you’re doing two of these events per month with 10 people each that are privately hosted and filled by an ambassador we want. Because the ambassador has told people when they invite them that the greatest way they can help is to spread the word, often our people will get . . . our groups we work with the Benevon will get more than one.
We have one group that got 10 out of 10 people, said that they wanted to become an ambassador in the subsequent follow-up calls. So, pretty amazing. That’s what you want is that ripple effect. Very organic, you don’t want anybody feeling pressured.
In fact, I’ll go into this a minute but five steps follow-up call, this is what we say. I did these calls for everyone who came on our tours. “Thanks for coming. What did you think?” Listen quietly. “Anyway you could see yourself becoming involved with us? Anyone else come to mind that we ought to invite to a similar point of entry?” But you don’t call it a point of entry. You give it a much warmer and more inviting name.
About 50% of the people will be blessed and released. Meaning that they are not . . . they tell you either nicely or not so nicely, directly or not so directly that they don’t want to stay involved. Those people are blessed and released and that’s factored into our formulas. Fifty percent will just not want to continue with you. And we don’t ask anyone for money at this.
But the remaining 50% are the people from whom you will get that one new ambassador and hopefully more. So, by the time we get around to asking people for money at step number three, they’ve already been educated at the point of entry, cultivated with what we call subsequent dates. So, if you think of the point of entry like a first date between the step one and step three, we call that the Cultivation Superhighway. And that’s where we have a few more dates, if you will, getting to know this person before asking them for money.
We tell a story about a woman who came to our point of entry. And when I called her to follow-up, she said, “I already know what I want to do. I’ve got several friends that would love to . . . I’d love to invite out.” So, she became kind of an Uber ambassador, if you will, hosting several of our tours. And one-by-one as we clarified the needs that we had, she saw people that she wanted to invite. She had hosted at least four, maybe more than that points of entry herself.
Whole events, she was an ambassador for at least four. Had friends who donated shoes for all of our 600 students, brand-new shoes every year, backpacks, jeans. She had friends who were on the professional sports teams and they built us a beautiful sports area and paid for a physical education teacher every year. She had friends who manufactured all of our uniforms for the kids. All of that came out of points of entry and her being a great ambassador.
And that was well before we asked anybody for money. In fact, it was well before we asked her for money, so by the time we got around to asking her for money at step number three. She was kind of wondering, “Why hasn’t anybody done that yet?” You know, when she’s out talking to her friends, she was bragging about our organization. We were the place that she was most proud of being involved.
So, on to step three, again, finally asking for money. We have two ways to do this, either one-on-one in person or at a free one-hour ask event. So, this would be the second type of event. The first event being the point of entry. The second event being the free one-hour ask event. And here’s our metric. We want 100% of the ask event table captains to have been successful ambassadors in the prior year.
So, we don’t just put on an event and ask all the board members to host the table, fill a table. That is not going to build us the long-term relationship. That’s going to have people come to the event because their friend is on the board and they felt a little bit pressured to do that. And it might even have them give money for that reason which is absolutely not what we are looking for here because the relationship will remain between the table host and the friend. It will never have been transferred over to the organization. The donor will not necessarily ever even know all the amazing work that you do.
So, we need a 100% of the table captains to have been ambassadors in the past. And at least 40% of their guests must have attended a point of entry in the prior year alone, not three years before, but right in that prior year. Which means that that ask event is going to stay relatively small each year. It’s not about getting a bigger and bigger party and having the big crowd come. We support and cultivate the other donors, the people who’ve come in the prior years in other ways which I’ll get to in a minute.
So, our goal at our ask event, we have had many people. We actually had 1,100 people take the tours in the first five months at our school. So, this thing really took off. And our goal at our first event was to have a thousand people, hundred table captains, 10 per table. And I figured half of them would be the . . . what we crassly call Ripened Fruit People who come through the whole process and half would be new.
But if you imagine yourself being one of the new people, who’d never come to the point of entry and I called you in a pinch at the last minute and asked if you’d come fill an empty slot at my table, and you offered to do that. You’re kind of wondering, “Why did I even say yes to her. I don’t know much about this. She said I’d be out in an hour. No, I don’t think so. You know, she said they don’t have to write a check. I’m going to feel guilty and have to write a check.”
She said, “It’s about inner-city education. That’s not really my favorite and most passionate topic right now,” but you come anyway because you told me you would. And you get there, you arrived, it’s dark, rainy November, Thursday morning in Seattle not unlike today. And you pull up in front of this lovely downtown hotel and who’s there to greet you? A little beautiful, two beautiful little girls holding hands, plaid uniforms, braided hair, freshly scrubbed faces and looking up at you bright-eyed. “Good morning. Are you here for the breakfast?” This is at 20 after 7:00 and you’re thinking, what time do these kids have to get up to come downtown and be all looking so good for me and where’s my coffee?
You go inside to the base of the escalator and who’s there to greet you? Two older boys in their blazers and ties, big strong handshakes. It’s impressive. They look you right in the eye, “Thank you for coming. Thank you for coming.” Go up the escalator, you cannot see the ballroom which is set for 1,000 people but you can hear the voices of the children and the choir standing on the risers and the empty ballroom, belting out their favorite school songs to amplified organ music. You’re getting in the mood.
You see, this event is choreographed like a theatrical production. You’ve got walkie-talkie, stopwatches, people all behind the scenes. Everything is choreographed to make sure that people have a positive experience as they walk in. So, before the clock starts, those are the things that happen. People grab their nametags from out in the lobby, come and sit down, meet their friend, the table captain, with a hug or a handshake, and take their place at their happy little nest for the next hour.
Where program starts with a welcome from a board member, then what we call crassly, the short emotional hook which in our case was our pastor doing an invocation with a little girl in the third-grade. Everybody was in tears in the first few minutes of this thing. We have . . . we work with domestic violence program. They might play a tape of someone calling in to 911 help or many groups will do a poem or a song, something that’s related to their mission and very succinct but powerful. Something that says to people, “We are just here for breakfast.”
After the short emotional hook . . . one second, oh darn. Okay. Slides are not advancing. Uh-oh, network connection, just a minute. Well, I’ll keep going. Let’s hope that my network connection comes back on. Hang on. I’m going to keep going.
So, after the short emotional hook comes the board member who says, “Thanks again for coming. Enjoy your breakfast. While you’re eating, take a look at your table tent that’s right in front of you. You’ll see a story written out by one of our students and a photograph of them. It’s impressive. There are 10 different ones at your table so pass those around.” And people pass those around and read the stories. Also as you’re sitting there you feel a tap on your shoulder. It’s a child with a basket of apples giving a little tap and saying, “Would you like an apple today?” So, rather than looking, they look you right in the eyes, is again impressive, giving you those apples. It’s not about the apple though. It’s about the child. It’s about the impression that, “Oh my gosh, this is a person right in our community who could benefit.”
When we work with nursing home, I’ll pass out holiday greeting cards. A nice thing to do with a little pen and say, “Please, write a holiday greeting card to one of our residents. It could be the only card that they receive this year.” When we work with the Alzheimer’s Association, they might pass out packets of flower seeds. Guess what kind? Forget-me-nots. So, something that just says, “These are people right here in our community that would benefit if we were to get involved.”
Okay. Let me see what I have to do it. It says I am still connected. It should be connected. Don’t really want to exit the program. Let’s see if I can make this work. I don’t really want to exit. All right. Steven, I’m going to let you see if you can help me with the technical side here, but I’m going to just keep going if I may. So . . .
Steven: Yeah. Sorry, I’ll move the slides for you if that’s okay.
Terry: Oh, okay good. Just keep going too, if you would.
Steven: Okay.
Terry: I’ll keep going. Thank you. Okay. I can’t see it though. Are you moving them? Okay.
Steven: Yes, I am.
Terry: You are. Oh, I can’t see that either. Wow, okay. Maybe I should exit and start over. I think I’m going to do that. And then I will get right back in here. Try again. Let’s try again. I’m going to try again and keep going. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened. I have perfectly good internet connection right now, and I’m right here with everybody. We’ll just try. Oh, it says it’s not working. Okay. Here give me one more second. And there we go. I don’t know. Okay, everything’s working but I’m not getting it to go. All right. I’m going to let you, I’m going to let you advance. I don’t know what to do, Steven. I’m so sorry.
Steven: Okay.
Terry: I don’t have everything going here. If there’s any way you can get me a backup on it, that would be great. It keeps saying, please try again. Oh, here, maybe wait a second. I think it’s coming back. Well, maybe not. Last try and then I’m going to just keep talking because I don’t want to make people wait.
Steven: Okay.
Terry: Here we go. Give me one more second. Okay. Well, I’m not seeing it. So, I’ll just keep going. Okay. So, and I don’t have a printout of my slides right in front of me because I know them pretty well, but we’ll see how we doing. If anybody has a way to get me hooked up to the internet, that would be great.
Let me try it again. Okay. So, there we are, we’re at the breakfast and the program, the breakfast is over and you finished eating and up comes the executive director, the visionary leader who gives a five minute talk about their vision for the organization. Very impressive, again, kind of like at the point of entry with the passion coming first and sharing the vision for the future.
And then we have a video, a seven-minute video that moves people to tears, three times, not two times, because it’s the three stories, each story is related to one of the bucket areas that we’ve talked about, so passionate for that. And then after that, after the video up comes someone to do a live testimonial. Sometimes that’s actually the person was featured in the last element of the video. So, you’re seeing like a father holding a little child, telling his story, very passionate.
After that, you know what’s coming next. It’s the last element of the program, we call it the pitch. You know that’s coming and I warned you, when I invited you to sit at my table that you would be asked to give money, but there would be no minimum and no maximum. So, you’re kind of wondering now, you know, “How is this really going to work and what am I going to do?” So, the person who asks for the money, what we call enduringly, the pitch person is someone that . . . oh, you know what? I just thought of an idea here. If you can . . . sorry, about that, Steven. I’m trying to still figure out how to get my internet working here. Let me see . . . because I do, I realize that I do have a set of those slides and maybe I could pull those up and then you could advance them for me. How would that work?
Steven: Yeah. That’d work. That works for me.
Terry: But that might be an idea. Just give me one more second. I got to go back down here and I’ll find them. Hang on, one second. One more minute here. Bloomerang webinar. Here we go. Okay, I got it. All righty. So, I’ll just say next and you can click . . . keep clicking, okay, Steven?
Steven: Okay.
Terry: How’s that for a plan?
Steven: Okay. Cool.
Terry: All right.
Steven: Yeah.
Terry: All right. Great. Let’s get down to where I was here, that way I won’t ramble and I’ll get everybody back with me. I’m so, sorry. All righty. So, I’m back right to the slides. Yes, the pitch person. Okay. So, we are on the slide number 76. Is that what it says? In the bottom-left? You see that one?
Steven: Mine, mine is 48. Is the one with the bottom bullet pointed video, 7 minutes, 3 cries?
Terry: Okay. Hold on. All righty. Let me go to 40. 48. Is that what you said?
Steven: Yeah.
Terry: All right. All right. Good. I got 48. Okay, so now we’ll go together.
Steven: Cool.
Terry: Okay. So, so 49 . . .
Steven: Okay.
Terry: . . . is a pitch. Okay. So, the pitch person needs to be someone who is a . . . sorry about this. This person needs to be someone who is . . . what we call a credible school teacher like person. Someone who is credible, they know your mission, they’re not just brought in for the day to be a celebrity. School teacher like in that they will follow the script and here’s what they say, and here’s what the person said at our school for the first ask event. He said, “We know most of you didn’t know what we were going to ask you for today, you only came because you trusted your friend who invited you. So, when we thought about what to ask you for we realized, we ought to tell you what it is we really need.”
And he went on to tell them how we had given raises to the teachers, caused a shortfall in the operating budget of half a million dollars, in fact, 600,000. And he said, “If you believe in what you’ve seen today, and you’d like to help to support the ongoing operations of the school and to the future, you have an opportunity today to become a founding member of something we’re just launching.” Let’s go to the next slide. “Called the Sponsor-A-Student Society. Now, I’d like to pause, ask the table captains to pass out the pledge cards. Let me walk you through this.” The first box next said, if you’d like to help us by sponsoring one student you could give us $1,000 a year for each of the next five years and . . . next slide out of 850 people, 115. Next slide said, “I’d like to do that.”
Now, notice next that the IRS requires that you report all pledges as if they are received on the day that they are pledged. Therefore by IRS standards we had just raised over half a million dollars. Next slide he said, “If you give us $10,000 a year for the next five years, you’d be sponsoring 10 students, and next to eight people did that, and next $25,000 a year for the next five years, and four more people did that.”
He paused, next, and said, “Let me thank all of you who’ve just joined our multiple year giving society. And now, next, I’d like to invite you to become, if you haven’t checked one of the boxes above, tell us in the fourth box, how much you’d like to give in and for how many years?”
In other words, they fill in the blanks box leaving the donor right in the driver’s seat. Some people said, next, we’ll give you a $100 for one year, $500 for two years, whatever they wanted to give was fine. Last box said, please, contact me. I have other thoughts to share. That was for the people who even if they had checked the box above, wanted to let people know, they had other ideas maybe real estate stock to transfer, or whatever. We were very happy to give them a call. So, we’ll check that box. There we go.
And now, take a look at that circle on the right, the next slide. Out of 100, that’s about 130 people circled on the right. Out of 850 at the top which next slide is 15% of the people. Less than 15% of the people, we had just raised nearly next a million and a half dollars in that one hour. And we wanted to know why.
So, next, we got back on the phone and started calling people to find out why had they done that because our based metric is that 10% of the ask event guests have joined the multiple you’re giving society at one of the three giving levels. So, if we had had a hundred people, we would have had 10 people join the giving society. We had about 850, so we should have had about 85 people join the giving society, but in fact, we had over a hundred . . . about 125 people join, way more than 10%.
And that’s because, see that fourth metric there? The 40%. We had about 85% of the people at our ask event had come to the point of entry in the prior 12 months. So, they were super passionate. We had a really passionate audience. The higher the number of people who’s been to the points of entry and through the dating process, the more successful you’ll be at the ask event.
Next slide. So, the next day, we got back on the phone and started calling all these new donors. Thanking them, asking if they had any advice, what else anybody else come to mind, and they all started telling me the same thing. They said, if I had known, how great that event was going to be or terrific your school was, I would have invited other people. Which seems to be the natural human response when people feel they’ve made a true contribution from their abundance.
So, the next slide says how we told them how they could get involved. I said, I started taking down the names of all these people. I said, you know, here it is the day after this ask event where you just gave so generously. We’re thinking, we ought to have this event again next year. Would you be willing right now while you’re excited to agree to be a table captain at next year’s event? Well, keep clicking the slides here, Steven. And you would have between now and next year at this time to post a point of entry, become an ambassador. Then the next slide. But we will follow-up with the people and cultivate them if they’re interested or bless and release them if they’re not. And then the next arrow, takes them right to the ask event where you could be a host at the ask event and have those people sitting at your table and joining the giving societies they’d like to.
So, when you stand back, next slide, you’ll see that we use two ways to ask at the Benevon model. This is the free one-hour ask event. This is one of the four events that you could be using. But we also do a lot of one-on-one asking. For example, if someone had come to the point of entry and been through the dating process, but if they were out of town on the day of the ask event, whatever way we ask. Whether we ask in person one-on-one afterwards or at the event, the next slide will say that we have to ask for the units of service.
Next slide is showing these units of service, these top three box levels with that which we never would have raised that much money. If we had had that fabulous event and the pitch person got up and said, “Please, give generously. Give from the bottom of your hearts,” you know, what does that mean? People would say, the ones who have a lot of money, don’t want to show off. The ones with a little bit don’t want to be embarrassed. Nobody knows what they’re supposed to do. So, everybody holds back.
By having these top three levels, it pretty much said to people, this is what we need. So, the next slide shows you . . . the last essential ingredient which is multiple-year pledges. Let’s click to the next one also, Steven. So, the next slide here. These pledges, these top three boxes. When I was trained in major gifts fundraising, I was always told, you don’t ever ask people to make a multi-year pledge unless it’s for a big gift like capital or endowment. But we have found that you can even ask people to do that for their annual gift. And that’s only if they make these five-year pledges.
See, if you look at this card closely, you’ll see that the fourth box lets people fill in the blanks and they could tell you, “I’ll give you $1,000 one-year at a time,” which is still a lot of money.
Therefore, by virtue of the fact that they choose box one over box four, they’re telling you something critical. They’re saying, “I know I don’t have to make a five-year pledge. I want to. That mission of yours is important to me. That’s my work too. Count me in. I want to be closer to your organization’s family.” And that allows me as the development director. Let’s go to the next slide. To do the third kind of event. The third kind of an event is called the Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event. This is where we stay in touch with these multi-year donors.
We knew, I knew finally who I was supposed to be cultivating. I wasn’t just cultivating the whole world, I was cultivating the people who had just made the five-year pledges, so that I could see if they had more people they’d like to get involved or perhaps give us more money or get involved in other ways themselves.
So, a free feel-good cultivation event, if you do it right, we’ll go to the next slide, it’s really serves as a point of re-entry. So, classic example at our school. These are events that you’re already doing anyway. So, if you’ve got something before the holidays, like let’s say, you have a student art pageant or a holiday event that you’re putting on at your school or your organization. That’s an event you’re already doing anyway, especially if it’s program related, if it’s mission related, we don’t need an extra thing to be at it.
But if you put a little program, a little program right before it, like at our school we always did this at the graduation where we invited the big donors to a reception before the graduation. We had the principal at the podium bragging about the test scores and the grade point average. We had a grandmother and her grandson get up at the podium and talk about how the school had changed their life. And then we, people were invited to go into the big auditorium for the full graduation and stay as long as they’d like.
So, if you do it right, this free feel-good event in step four, serves as a point of re-entry giving people, again, the facts, the emotions, and capturing their names was no problem because we had their names. They were our donors. We knew them. We had invited them.
So, three days after the point of re-entry, just like after the first point of entry. We’re doing guess what? Next slide. The follow-up call. “Thanks for coming. What’d you think of the graduation? The principal? The grandmother? Any other way you could see yourself getting involved?” Constantly deepening our relationship leading up to the next ask.
The next slide shows how we took this into a capital campaign which we don’t need to go into in depth here but just to say, we could . . . you can also do points of re-entry, little events for these multi-year donors for capital and we found out we were evicted from our school. Had to . . . quickly if you go to the next slide. Raised 3.2 million which we did from 18 of these same donors within six months of our first ask event. So, we didn’t have any other donors. If you’ve got the deep relationship with people, you don’t need an event. You can really be able to cultivate people and ask one-on-one.
Okay. Next slide, we took it to endowment. We had . . . next slide, we had board finally said, “We had over 600 donors in our multiple year giving society, 600 people by doing this by the seventh year.” The board said, wonder how much we’d have to raise in an endowment to cover our operating gap of about 600,000 every year and they decided we would need, next slide, 15 million which we completed. Next slide. By the end of the seventh year. $15 million endowment. So, this is the power of building those relationships.
Okay. The next slide just shows. These donors who make these five-year pledges, these are the donors that you think . . . this is always for unrestricted operating money. These five-year pledges are not for capital. They’re not for endowment. They have to be for unrestricted. But in the next slide it shows you, that these multi-year donors also, then you go back to them in addition to their annual pledge and they ask some of them to make larger gifts for these kinds of things. And you’ll know by then who those people ought to be.
So, the next slide, again, lists out the five key metrics. All of them, they are one-by-one, and this is available also on our website and you’ll be getting it, I think a link to this afterwards.
So, next slide is the full Benevon model, and that I’m going to go into, again, next slide, the four types of events. So, the first event from page 21 of the book. The classic point of entry. As I’ve described, there are three derivative events. The point of entry in a box, so what I described as the point of entry at our school where we take people on a tour, there’s all the pieces I said at the beginning. You can also do that in someone’s home, or in a church basement, or in someone’s office, a point of entry in a box and there’s a lot written about how to do that and convey that in sense of emotion even in someone’s beautiful office that doesn’t look like your, maybe, shabby school like ours did.
The one-on-one point of entry. There’s some tips in the book about how to begin with the process by talking with someone one-on-one. These are excellent for your board members and volunteers, how to begin to share about your organization. And the pre-point of entry which are events that kind of lead up to it but are not real points of entry and I’ll talk about those in a minute.
So, next slide. At every point of entry, you’ve got it have this, everything in this little box here. You’ve always got to have facts, emotion, and capturing the names, and always people are invited word-of-mouth by an ambassador.
Next slide. Two of these per month. That’s how many you want to do. Points of entry, two a month. Next slide, shows you the free one-hour ask event, just as a review. And next slide, says again, in the box, sit-down, facts, emotion, capture the names with permission. Those are the same kinds of elements as at the point of entry. People are seated, you’ve giving them facts and emotion and you’ve got their mate, you’ve gotten their name with their permission. There’s no sneaking around about this. And in the next slide. Once a year, that’s how often you do the ask event, one-time a year.
The next slide shows you the third-type of event which is the free feel-good cultivation event. I already mentioned that and the next slide delineates all the pieces of it if you want to come back and look at this. And the next slide says, twice per year. So, we want two free feel-good cultivation events per year.
Okay. And then the final, next slide, shows you the fourth type of event which is the one that most of you are, have been waiting for because that is the point of entry conversion event. Now, you might say, “What is that? What’s a point of entry conversion event?” The next slide shows you, that this number one on here it says, point of entry conversion event. These are the events that you call fundraisers. People pay and they think they’re coming for a golf tournament. They think they’re coming for a gala. They don’t think that they’re coming to learn about your organization.
Can they answer by the end of the event these two questions? What is the name of your organization? Believe it or not, people don’t know. Sometimes they have to look at the free t-shirt that you gave them from the fun run to remember, or if they go to their auction goers every Saturday night, you know, which places . . . who’s benefiting anyway which is the second question. What is this organization even do?
So again, at a point of entry conversion event, you’ve got to have that sit-down part. So, whether it’s a golf tournament or a holiday party, you must have a moment when people sit down and someone speaks the fact, usually that’s the visionary leader doing a short talk about their passion for the organization, just like they would do at a point of entry. And/or a little short video, but usually it’s talk from the visionary leader and then a live testimonial from someone whose life was changed. That’s what people are going to remember.
They’re not going to remember all the other talking. And you’ve got to have a way to capture their names with permission. And there are lots of examples in the book like at a golf tournament putting, having the person who’s table they’re sitting at the luncheon, or the awards banquet saying, you know, “I’m going to be hosting one of these points of entry coming up. They’re not called points of entry but, you know, a welcome home or whatever you want to call it. And I’d love for you all to come.” So, find a way to engage people and get them right to your site for a point of entry.
Next slide. Big red X. So, our goal is that you will not be doing these point of entry conversion events at all, because there are really a lot of work. At best you could use them as a way as I’ve shown you to forward people’s attendance at a point of entry. And so, the next slide shows you a conversion script. This wording is in the book. So, if you have the emcee or board chair in the red say, like at the beginning of the 10-minute program, like let’s say it’s to your holiday gala. You know, “We here at this organization wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t take advantage of having you all gathered here today to tell you a little more about the work we do.” And then introduce very briefly the visionary leader and the testimonial speaker.
And then at the very end, the board chair emcee can say, “Now that you’ve heard a little more, maybe you find like to learn more about us first-hand. In that case, there’s a card under your plate.” So, you really want to be thinking in advance when you plan all these holiday events, how can we capture those names? How can we get the passion in there so that people will at least be interested enough in January when we call them to come on out?
Okay. The next slide also tells . . . this is more of the script. I don’t really need to go through it all but pretty much says, come on down for a point of entry and this is all scripted and very easy to follow. It’ll be in the slides when you see the webinar after this and it’s in the book also.
So, the next slide. Soul searching questions. This is my favorite part. These are for you and for your board. Right out of the book. There I think, I don’t know, I think they’re about 18 of them or 17 of them but I’ve got some up here. Why are we really having this event anyway? So, each event that you listed out that you’re doing before the end of the year or for that matter the whole year, how to bring some sanity to this? Why are we even doing this? Is there really an expectation that the events going to even raise any money? What have you said in the past to justify not reaching your goal? In fact, many people, you can say, do you even know what the dollar goal is?
So, how attached, number four, are you and your organization to having this kind of an event? My favorite question, number five. What if someone just walked in and wrote you a check for your total goal? What would you think of that? Would you still have the event? Now, some of you will be thinking, yeah, we’d still have that event even if somebody gave us all the money because it’s not about the money for us. It’s about the community building.
Others of you would say, heck, no, we would never do that thing again. That is so much work. I would be happy to take that check. And furthermore, using our model as you probably can tell, you could take some of those sponsors who help, might help to sponsor those events which is often kind of the same amount of money that you net out from an event at the end of the . . . all paying for all the food and all on the entertainment. But if someone just said, if the sponsors would be willing to sponsor your Benevon style ask event, you could skip this kind of an entertainment style event altogether and help your . . . focus your attention on an event that will actually bring you lifelong donors.
Thinking number six. Thinking ahead to your next big event. If you don’t make your goal, what’s going to be the reason? I’m always amazed when I ask people this question because they all know. They already can tell you what’s not going to work about it.
And seven, what’s is actually supposed to net? Next slide, that I’m on number seven, Steven, sorry. How many volunteers did it really take to put the event on? And number nine, if you have a dedicated fundraising staff, what else could they have been doing the same amount of time to bring in more money, the opportunity cost? So, often we don’t look at this. How long have you been obsessing and do you know that you have fixed costs to meet?
And the last slide of this is, is this the right type of event for your organization? And we have faith-based groups that do gambling nights and homelessness groups serving people experiencing homelessness who are doing fancy home tour events. I mean, really? Think about that. How is that going to come across to your audience?
And let’s just look down here. Number 16, what are you building for future years by having this event? And on a scale of 1 to 10, are you even excited about putting it on? Because if you’re not excited, it’s not going to be happening.
So, next slide. Soul searching questions, page 33. Again, number five, this is the question. What if someone just came in and wrote you a check for your total goal, would you even still have this event?
So, next slide is where we pull it all together, page 118 of the book, system of events. So, down the left, left side, you can list all of the events that you’re doing all year long. And these don’t just have to be your fundraising events. This could be program events, I mean, if you’re the Red Cross it could be the swim lessons or the CPR classes, the program related things. It could potentially in that first, in that second column there that says, pre-point of entry event. Actually, next column over the point of entry column, you could perhaps use the swim lessons as a stop on your point of entry tour if you wanted to. We’ve got lots of examples.
In fact, the next slide, Steven, has this chart filled out. So, down the left-side there’s a golf of outing and you can see over to the far right we’ve eliminated that. That’s the category called Add/Convert or Eliminate and By When. Well, we just said, we don’t even use a golf outing anymore.
Corporate sponsored gala, a second event on the far-left or auction. We’ve turned that into a point of entry conversion event. We’ve inserted our visionary leader on the third live auction items. We take a pause. We have the visionary leader get up, tell a compelling story, bring up a family or someone who’s experienced whatever our organization’s goal is to help or eliminate. And then we use that as the point of entry conversion and find a way to invite people to a point of entry after that. And you can see over on the far-right for the corporate sponsored gala and auction, we convert but year one we’re going to convert that to a point of entry conversion event. But by year two, we’re going to eliminate it.
Notice also how we’ve moved the months around sometimes that can help. So, you don’t have the big clogging up around the end of the year. Graduation, we do that as a free feel-good cultivation event for our donors in June. Chess classes was part of a tour stop, and so are the tutoring sessions.
So, you can use this nomenclature. I hope that this will be helpful to you in seeing how to think about your events. And I hope that those soul-searching questions will be very helpful in presenting to your board. Especially if you as the development person are getting pretty burned out and frustrated on so many events because a lot of times they just don’t understand the impact. You know, they’ve gone to a lovely event, hosted a friend’s charitable organization, and they think, “Well, why don’t we do one of those here?” And suddenly, you’re in the business of putting on some other wild and crazy kind of event which we all have been there.
Okay. So, I think that gives you an idea. I think that’s enough of that content on this. Let me say a little bit more about some of the resources if you’d like to learn more about this and then we’ll take some questions, Steven. So, the next slide shows that resources for Benevon, our e-news, this is the gateway to everything Benevon if you want to hear, we send out regularly an e-newsletter to all of our subscribers with good content in it and updates on other programs that we have.
Next slide, is the header for our e-news, so consider that. Next slide are the books and the next slide shows the picture of all the books. On the far right, is the book has been referring to “Missionizing Your Special Events,” but it’s sold . . . if you’d like in a package with our main book, the red one on the left, “The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right.” And in the middle, the DVD, the 55-minute DVD that explains our model, so there’s a package deal on that. It’s a little bit of a discount.
Next slide. We have a number of videos on our website. And the next slide is Bloomerang which the next slide shows you. Bloomerang for Benevon. We are very proud of our relationship with Bloomerang and as you can tell, and you’re going to need a very strong donor database if you’re going to use this model because you’re going to have a lot of donors, and you’re going to have a lot of people coming through your points of entry. You’ve got to have a way. Without a database, you will never make it in using our model or probably any other model for fundraising.
We are very proud of this customized private label version of Bloomerang for the Benevon model. And it’s inexpensive web-based. I can’t say enough about Bloomerang. My definition of a great database it’s not a definition, it’s actually a question. And the question is, have you personally used it in the last 24 hours? If you have not used your database the way that you use your phone, and you get Bloomerang right on your phone. If you’re instead sending notes and emails to someone in the data department to enter something into a database, that will not cut it using this level. If you’re going to do this level of donor development work, you really need to not be running your own spreadsheets or emails. You actually need to have a centralized database that everyone can use that’s inexpensive, again, and web-based, and really intuitive. So, I can’t say enough about how great, I think Bloomerang is. And Bloomerang for Benevon even better if you’re going to be using our model.
Okay. The next slide. Our live introductory sessions. And the next slide, the next one coming up is in Scottsdale on November 26th. Next is webinars which we are doing our own webinar on November 8th, coming up this Thursday, “The Benevon Model: Five Key Metrics for Getting it Right.” You’ve all gotten a sense of that, just listening to me today, if you’ve hung in there with me which I appreciate.
And then the next slide is our video tutorial. So, a lot of our smaller groups as a companion guide to the books. The next slide is launching the Benevon model video tutorial. This is something we’ve just launched recently. And next slide shows you companion guide, includes the access to five-part video tutorial series for six months. We did this in a studio. One of our top trainers recorded it with all kinds of handouts and nine detailed worksheets. It’s really outstanding. It helps you to customize, next slide, a point of entry and how to engage the ambassador program, successful follow-up calls, and how to customize your events. It does not teach you how to put on an ask event but it helps you to get ready for all of that by building that strong underpinnings of an ambassador program.
Next slide. Here’s the pricing on that, it’s $1,095 and we have a coupon code going right now for a $300 off special. So, next slide, if you’re interested, you should let us know. I’m assuming there’ll be an email. I know Steven’s very good about this. Sending out an email afterwards that will have a lot of other resources in it.
And we have Benevon workshops which is our main work at Benevon. Next slide. That’s a two-day workshop, you come with a team of 7 to 10 people and we customize the entire model for you and coach you for one year. So, it’s a Benevon training and coaching program, a one-year program. Average group raises $200,000 the first year in cash and pledges. It’s a big commitment and it’s totally worth it. If you really are committed to not having to go through another holiday season next year, and the next year, and the next year, kind of on the treadmill of putting on special events, you really might want to consider talking with us further. If your budget is, I’d say, half a million dollars or more is the cutoff for coming to one of our workshops. Below that, you should use our video tutorial program.
Okay. So, I think that kind of does it, Steven. That last slide there is the book. I wanted to put that up as the very last slide. And I think we’re ready to take questions.
Steven: Yeah. That was awesome, Terry. I love those soul-searching questions. Man, that was probably worth the price of admission alone. I think you can . . . I think people should really ask themselves those questions about their existing events because that’s pretty powerful stuff. So, thanks for sharing that. I love that you just kind of give away your methodology and tell folks, hey, do it this way because, you know, it really raises a lot of money. Maybe one question to start off with, Terry.
Terry:Well, Thank you and of course, one more . . .
Steven:Yeah.
Terry: I was just going to say, of course my internet came back on. So, now I have internet. So, now that I don’t need to thank you again, Steven, for helping with that. Go ahead. Question.
Steven: No, worries. No problem. No, it’s no big deal. Okay. So we’re recording this on November 6th, maybe people, you know, they’re not doing a year-end event but they want to. What do you think they should try to put together in these last, you know, 45 or 50 days or so, Terry? Is it the simple point of entry? Is that the kind of a good model you think they should try here before the end of the year?
Terry: Actually, a great question. No, I think that the best thing would be more of a cultivation event. It could either be . . .
Steven: Okay.
Terry: I would really suggest looking at what do you already have going. You know, if you’re an environmental group and you’re looking at something, some kind of an outdoor, maybe a weekend family come out and clean up the trail, kind of an event. You know, turn that into a cultivation event. Invite your donors, and say, this is an opportunity over the holidays.
So, we looking right in your mission. What is something you actually need? I really don’t recommend having to cook up any more events. If anything you ought to be taking your donors out for lunch or calling them for coffee. And maybe even putting on what we call CEO Golden Hours which are a small group gathering, it can even be at a coffee shop with your donors and your CEO to talk about your mission.
Steven: That makes a lot of sense. I love it. Wow, this was great stuff, Terry. I know we lost a little bit of time with the technical difficulties. And we’re kind of coming up against it. How can people get a hold of you? You know, checking out all these resources. Maybe asking questions by email. I don’t know if you’re willing to do that.
Terry: Yes. Yeah, I think just info@benevon.com and we can put that in my email if want, Steven. I-N-F-O, info@benevon.com, and I’ll do my best to answer the questions. And we have a lot of good resources on our website, benevon.com. I mean, people often say, you know, boy, you give it all away right there. So, take a minute and, you know, before you email and just check it out and really thank you so much for having me today.
Steven: Yeah. This is awesome. And I just vouch for the newsletter specifically. Really good newsletter. You write a blog post in it pretty much every time it goes out. So, check that out if you do nothing else, if you’re kind of interested by what’s Benevon all has to offer. But this is awesome, Terry. We’ll have you back sometime next year to maybe tell us about spring events or anything else you got cooking. So, thanks for being here.
Terry: Thank you. Yeah. And happy holidays to everyone.
Steven: Yes. Definitely. And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know it’s busy time of year. It’s election day. Thank you. Thank you, for taking an hour out of your day. Check out our website if you want to keep learning. We got lots of other cool resources as well.
And we’ve got a webinar coming up in two days. We got a Thursday webinar, so we got a kind of a double header this week. We got Larry Johnson on who is a super awesome guy, really smart, and has a lot to say about impact, specifically. So, check that one out. If you maybe want to learn about things you can do next year to increase all the good work that you do through your programs and services. Hopefully we’ll see you in a couple days.
If not, we got a lot of other great webinars that you can register for. Even out into next year already, could hardly believe it. So, hopefully we’ll see you again either Thursday or some other session we have. So, look for an email from me with all the resources, all the recordings and slides. I’ll get that to you. And get out there and vote if you haven’t. Hopefully we’ll see you again on Thursday. So, have a good rest of your week. And we’ll talk to you again soon.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.