The evening for the gala had arrived and the charity and its staff were enthusiastic about the event and the potential it offered for further financial support. The room was beautifully decorated; the guests were dressed for an evening out. It was festive and colourful.
The evening concluded with a live auction and the items offered held a high ticket price. Guests participated actively through the bidding process. Each person who attended knew the money being raised was for a good cause and they wanted to be part of the solution. By the end of the night, the charity had exceeded their goal and everyone, guests and staff included left feeling that the gala had been a success.
The following day, charity staff gathered to ensure they finished the job by entering all details of the event. They entered everything including the total number of dollars for cash purchases at the event. Those colourful glass beads had been a hit.
This is where we would like to add commentary and make a suggestion. Some charities enter the dollars raised for the silent and live auction as one accumulated amount. If this is entered as a total amount, information is lost about which guests opened their wallet in support. Keeping track of how much a guest spends in support of an auction gives the charity a chance to do something a little special for these guests in the following year … maybe first choice at the front tables or an invitation to a special reception. This would constitute a loyalty opportunity offered by the charity to a valued supporter. Good idea?! You bet it is!
Here’s an even better idea. Send a thank you note to show the charity’s appreciation for the guest’s support shown by purchasing auction items. Yes, they did receive something but every good business person understands how priceless a simple thank you can be.
We have spoken to guests who have purchased items and in some cases for considerable value. Their contribution was not entered into the Donor Management System so they had become invisible as supporters of the charity. Not only that, a thank you or expression of appreciation would have shown the charity to be a grateful recipient for the additional funds. But none was sent!
Large donations receive some form of thank you, then why not for the purchase of auction items? This does not mean the charity needs to mention everything bought unless of course it is one high ticket item and they choose to do so.
Imagine the chagrin of an executive director or fund raiser who chances on a conversation with a guest who has offered valued support in the past only to be blindsided by their lack of information.
And please don’t suggest this all takes too much time as that is one of the most ineffective excuses of all. Basic civility, something which appears to have been lost in the last few years, can be regained by taking one little extra step which will set a charity far above the not for profit crowd. A High Performance Fund Development Team never misses an opportunity to do it better!
The Webster Dictionary defines civility as ‘a polite act or expression’. Remember “gimme gimme” will not get forever. A thank you will be remembered as will the lack of one.
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