Tips from working with successful sponsors.
Whenever we receive a phone call from a prospective customer, it doesn't take long to tell when we're speaking with highly motivated fundraising sponsors. These sponsors know what they're raising money for and how they've performed with previous sales. They understand what's worked for them and what hasn't and know what might best motivate their group to sell.
Additionally, they've reviewed our brochures and prize programs and are asking more specific questions about how we can best meet their needs. What follows are seven specific things that motivated sponsors always seem to do:
1. They have a Specific Fundraising Purpose
Your sale will fall short of its potential without a clearly defined purpose. You would be surprised at the number of schools conducting fundraisers because it's a particular time of year, and everyone assumes it's time to raise money. No one even asks why. They become like zombies and fall in line. When we ask schools for their purpose so we can place it in their parent letter, they often tell us, "It's for the general fund". Most people want to know more. They want specifics. Most schools don't have to look far to determine their financial needs. So why don't they spell out their purpose? Perhaps it's because they feel people won't support or may even oppose it. Many sponsors don't want to be locked into committing money to a specific purpose. What if they fall short of their goal?
Strong sponsors feel that's a risk worth taking because if they've effectively sold their purpose, they know people will be more apt to support it.
2. They are Committed to an Achievable Sales Goal
It's incredible how many sponsors kick off their sales and tell their students to do their best. They accept whatever money comes in and assume that if they reach last year's goal, they have been successful. However, if they fall short, it's out of their control. They accept the same results year after year.
Successful sponsors have determined how much money they need and know how much each student will need to sell. They then inspire them to reach their goals. We had a school that wasn't satisfied with making $30,000 yearly based on the number of students they had. As a result, they reworked their numbers, made a few changes, and now they consistently bring in more than double that amount.
3. They Track the Progress of Their Sale
Most sponsors don't know how well they do until their sale ends. By then, it is too late to impact sales possibly. Sponsors who end up raising more money do so because they keep track of their student's progress. They can make adjustments by influencing sales performance before it's too late. Some of the ways they do this are by incorporating one or more of the following:
4. They Incorporate Additional Incentives
Successful sponsors understand that they must offer their students more than just the company's prize program to maximize sales. They are good at getting their students involved using additional incentives.
5. They are Good at Inspiring Students to Sell
Influential sponsors are good leaders because they inspire others to succeed. They consistently incorporate the perfect blend of accountability with optimism that positively impacts not only students but also their fundraising team, teachers, and parents.
6. They Know Success Requires a Team
Good sponsors aren't lone rangers; they prioritize recruiting others to help them run their sales. They understand they must also get the teachers and the parents on board. They are very good at recruiting and delegating.
7. They Have Earned Fundraising Credibility
There is nothing worse than making promises without following through. A while back, we worked with a school that promised a limo ride for students who reached a specific goal. When we followed up with the school to find out how their students enjoyed the limo, they said they decided not to do it after all. What did their parents and students think? How many other people found out that the limo ride never happened after all? Unfortunately, they don't understand how this negatively affects future sales.
Good fundraising coordinators always do what they promise, no matter what. Their students and parents can trust them to follow through. As a result, they usually achieve good sales results.
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Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He’s helped administrators, teachers, and outside support entities such as PTAs and PTOs raise millions of dollars. Clay is an owner and partner at Big Fundraising Ideas.