In Part 1 of this Blog I talked about change – a natural part of our every day existence. Change is inevitable – and sometimes essential. This is especially true when it comes to the planning and the execution of a charity fundraising event.
Throughout the course of a year I run into charities and organizations that are resistant to change – afraid to transform their fundraising efforts and program – due in part to tradition, despite the fact their events continue to raise less and less money.
Even if an event raises the same amount of money each year, the charity is still losing money due to escalating expenses and inflation. As I said, “Some people just won’t let go of the past – even if it means they’ll have no future.”
In many instances the person or persons most resistant to change are the older committee members of an event – those who have been an active and loud voice of the charity or organization for a great number of years. In fact, they might have even organized the first event decades ago.
Many of these early fundraising pioneers – as well as some newcomers – simply do not like change. And those hung up on tradition often recruit a “following” because they feel there is strength in numbers. The “same old same old” works just fine in their minds and they’ll resist any attempt to steer their sinking ship to a new port.
In many instances just one word explains their reasoning why – control. They hate to lose it.
If you’re an Event Chair you cannot let this happen. You must stand strong – take the ship’s wheel – and direct it to that new and exciting port – the one with more riches.
While some charities may have a paid staff person to oversee and coordinate an event, the majority of Event Chairs are actually unpaid volunteers. The person in charge, who feels change is needed, can experience a great deal of self-doubt and expect criticism right up to and including the night of the event. In short, “It’s lonely at the top.” But remember, even Mt. Everest has been conquered.
For the record, I’m not saying change for change’s sake. I am saying “change for the better with time-proven techniques.”
The art of fundraising changes every year and it’s my job to know the trends and incorporate those trends into every auction I host.
Recently I was hired by a group to oversee their fundraising event. During the planning stages I laid out the game plan which included major changes to their past events. It came as no surprise to me when a few voices sitting around the table disapproved of making changes and insisted their event stay the same as last year citing “tradition!”
Here’s where the strong Event Chair took charge. Under no circumstances was she going to revert back to the old ways. She explained the declining revenue and that change was necessary for the livelihood of the organization and the families counting on them.
She stuck to her guns – quashed the vocal minority – and worked closely with me in the months leading up to the event to assure every “t” was crossed and every “i” dotted. This meant the event did not look the same as previous years, did not have the same items to be auctioned off, did not have the same people touting the cause and was a heck of a lot more fun.
I’m happy to report that during the debriefing meeting – after the event – committee members could not have been more congratulatory. Comments included; “What a great event!” “We had so much fun!” “That went so smoothly!”
But the most important comment was; “We raised more money!!!”
It takes strong leadership to implement changes – but as this story proves – it’s worth it in the long run.
The older committee members – those resistant to change – may put up a fight and speak in loud voices. But the thrill of putting on a fresh and fun event and raising more money when compared to previous events will speak even louder.
A full time professional Benefit Auctioneer, Robertson annually conducts 70-80 fundraising auctions, raising more than $25 million dollars thus far in 2014. He is one of an estimated 30 auctioneers in the country that make fundraising auctions their full time profession. Scott has earned the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation from the National Auctioneers Association. Less than 1% of the auctioneers in the country have earned the BAS professional designation. To learn more about Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.