by J. Scott Nebel, Omaha 06
While any fundraising event that engages, unifies and raises money is a worthy effort, fundraising is not without its failures and frustrations. So here is …
Part 2 (click here for Part 1): What Went Wrong…? (Our Worst 3 Fundraisers)
Flop Number 3: Car Wash
Hose? Buckets? Soap? Towels? Let’s go! Wait, where are the cars? A Car Wash without cars is just a Wash, only we’re not really washing anything, so it’s more of a “_”, which I really don’t know how to pronounce, but I’m pretty sure a “_” doesn’t make any money!
We have succeeded and failed with car washes, but failure was always a result of the planning and execution. To avoid repeating our mistakes:
TIP 1: Overbook! Always schedule more than enough volunteers. You never know who is going to be sick, be pulled into emergency meetings, or get abducted by aliens (Seriously, it’s been weeks. Where’s Joe!)
TIP 2: Promotion! We don’t mean promoting a person to Executive Vice President of Corporate Suds and Towels, we mean make sure you build up the line of cars in advance. Put up flyers and start taking names a week ahead of time. This also helps you figure out how much staff you will need.
Flop Number 2: Off-Site Events
Off-Site events after working hours can be a great idea: Getting employees interacting outside of work, getting the name Alorica out into the community—it’s a win-win, even if you make nothing. It’s essentially advertising how much we care about our causes, as well as how much we care about our employees and each other. But …
TIP 1: Make it scalable! This part of the planning phase saved us in a recent bowling fundraiser flop. Whether we had 10 people show, or 100, we weren’t going to lose money. We didn’t really make any money either, but that’s still marginally in the “win” column! (Now to reinvest those six pennies in the Penny War…)
TIP 2: Again … Promote it! We’re still working out the kinks on cross-program promotion, but ensure you have active engagement across all programs if you are opening an event up to more than one program to participate. A single flyer or email isn’t as effective as people on the ground actively promoting it with multiple points of communication. Never underestimate the power of a full song-and-dance number! Nobody will ever forget that day … no matter how much I wish they would (Seriously, I probably should have realized you have to be able to sing and dance in a song-and-dance number. Also not really the best time for my first attempt at a back flip… I swear I’ll pay for those damages!)
Number 1: Culture Kitchen
“Wait, didn’t you say Culture Kitchen was one of your BEST ideas?” Yup.
“Are you losing your mind, or are you saying this is now your WORST idea?” Yup.
Pricing is a dangerous game of Operation hooked up to a car battery … One false move and you’re on the ceiling picking up radio stations in your fillings! We’ve been there, and it’s no fun dangling from florescent light ballasts. Instead, establish a foolproof plan.
TIP1: I “math-ed” and you can, too! Here’s the equation we feel leads to our most successful pricing:
aka Two times the Cost of the food, divided by the anticipated number of Participants.
TIP 2: Perspiration over Participation Anticipation? Worry not! We believe we’ve cracked that code. Sure we don’t have a crystal ball, or a time-traveling Delorian, but we are still holding out hope that a cyborg from the future will come back in time to tell us what everyone wants for lunch in 3 weeks. Totally could happen! Until then, we’ve found that anticipated participation usually comes in around 25-33% of total employees. Don’t cook for all of your employees (at least not when there is a charge… FREE food is a totally different animal, and it’s not housebroken, not even a little!)
You’ll get a feel for what meals are bigger hits as you try some, but in general, 25-33% seems to be the average participation anytime we have a vendor, or become the vendor ourselves. Oh, and always round prices up … it’s easier to give change for whole dollars!
To Avoid Fundraising Failures, Follow our Four “P”s:
- Plan it! (Price it and staff it appropriately, then execute the heck out of it!)
- Promote it! (Don’t skimp on the flyers, the emails, or the dancing monkeys!)
- Party with it! (Make it Fun! Host it with a smile and make the fundraising a party!)
- Peanut Butter! (Yeah, I really only had three “P”s, sorry.)
For additional Questions on our Fundraising Successes and Failures, contact us at OMA06MACommittee@alorica.com