The #1 reason that people donate is because they are asked! Direct Giving is a great place to do that asking.
Sometimes called Paddle Raise or Fund-an-Item, Direct Giving is a direct request for donations to fund a specific item or items and is typically offered in the middle or the end of the Live Auction. If presented properly, this can consistently be the most profitable piece of your fundraiser.
A successful Direct Giving, with lots of donors contributing, can create havoc for your cashier if the event ends directly after the giving. It is always best to put your fundraising activities before the evening’s business and social activities to allow your cashier the time to process the charges prior to opening check-out. If the Live Auction is the last component of your event, place the Direct Giving in the middle of the Live Auction items, again to gain needed time for the cashier to be ready.
Start with your high amount and work down, giving your guests the opportunity to donate when they feel comfortable. Typically, you might see $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $250 and $100 with the most giving done at the lower levels, although there are many events that start at a higher amount.
There are some supporters that you know are going to give a large amount to your organization at some point in your event. Having them agree to make that donation at the start of the Direct Giving often gets the ball rolling and limits the chance of the long pause waiting for a bid card to be raised.
Timing is everything!
The typical Direct Giving is presented 2½ to 3 hours into the event at the point when alcohol is either a great friend or an unwanted enemy. Wait too late and the crowd will have one foot out the door and limited interest in the proceedings. Catch the crowd when the excitement (alcohol!) in the room is peaking, and you will reap the rewards. The sooner you get to the plea, the better the results.
Whether a video or speaker, the plea explaining the request should be 3 to 5 minutes at the most. Any longer and you will quickly lose the crowd’s interest.
Choose a Doable Goal!
I find that attendees will give more when donating for a specific need and not just adding money to the overall pot. Furthermore, they will greater contribute to the cause when the goal is achievable and not just an unreachable dream.
Funding an item that can be purchased many times over, such as a computer or a scholarship, makes it easier to reach a goal and keep your guests donating.
Make it Easy to Donate!
When you ask a guest to fill out a donation card that can be found on their table, you don’t close the deal. Having your guests raise their bid number until that number is read, commits them to the donation.
Let’s face it, if everyone in the room is crying when I step up to ask for money, we will do quite well. Granted, not every cause can bring a tear, but a well thought out plea that captures your guest’s emotions, will make it easier for them to donate.
Lighting, music, video and props all can lead to a more successful Direct Giving.
Know your Audience!
Deciding at what amount to start the request really depends on your audience and what you think they can afford. Even more so, it is important to know those individuals who are capable of large donations and what they can contribute.
You must ask!
If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so don’t be afraid to think big. If there are no donors at that level, move on.