In a recent conversation with a charity board member we were reminded of the fact that many organisations are hesitant to really engage their fundraisers. Our discussion revolved around what it takes to attract and support committed fundraisers, the ‘four-figure-fundraisers’ (FFFs). This term is not ours, although it was clearly coined by someone with a similar passion for catchy acronyms and blatant alliteration. The FFF is someone that commits to raising a minimum of $1,000 for their chosen charity.
The reason we feel strongly about the FFF is, not only the way that it steps up fundraising, but also the supporter engagement that it results in, the shift to the ambassador. Now, clearly engagement is something that provides longer term benefits and many organisations are just focused on funding this year’s programs, but few can afford to neglect their supporter pipeline. The FFF allows you to achieve both outcomes.
Let’s follow two typical fundraisers that I like to call Passive Paul and Four Figure Frank (I warned you about the alliteration).
Paul is signed up for the annual ocean swim. He has put in enough training to hopefully beat his best mate and be in the middle of the pack away from the shark danger zone. He has nominated a cancer research organisation as his chosen charity, because he has an aunt who was affected by cancer recently. The charity sent Paul an email, thanking him for selecting them and providing him with a fact sheet about their work. Paul posted a request for donations on Facebook the week before the event and raised $95. Paul will potentially choose a different cause for his next charity event.
Frank signs up for the same event and selects a marine conservation charity to support. The charity sends Frank an email asking him if he is willing to accept the challenge of trying to raise $1,000 and explaining the support, benefits and recognition that they can provide. Frank has been keen to get more involved in a cause for some time and as a keen surfer, and seeing the proactive response from the charity, decides to give it a go.
The charity provides him with a range of support collateral and arranges a phone call with one of their fundraising support volunteers. Over the next 4 months Frank talks about the charity whenever possible, wears the t-shirt, has the organisation’s bumper sticker on his van, hosts a fundraising barbeque and gets two of his mates to donate to the same charity with their fundraising. Frank ends up raising $1,200 and is putting together a plan to use his upcoming surf trip to Indonesia as a fundraising platform for the organisation. Frank was mentioned in the charity newsletter in recognition of his efforts. The likelihood of Frank raising money for another organisation now is pretty slim. He is probably worth 15 Paul’s over the course of a year, and who knows how many over a lifetime.
But let’s forget about hypothetical and get real for a moment. In 2010 the 80,000 runner field in Sydney’s City to Surf event raised $2.8 million at an average of $35 per person. In 2012 the event introduced gold entries whereby 500 entries were set aside for runners who committed to raise at least $1,000 each. It was no surprise when the average fundraising level for non-gold runners stayed the same but overall fundraising rocketed to $3.8m – a 36% increase. Gold entries now number well in excess of 2,000 runners and fundraising exceeds $4.5m.
Now we know there is both art and science to recruit the FFF, but can you afford not to?