Breaking It Down

on in Nonprofit
We get asked a lot to help groups figure out how to make more money from what they’ve been doing for years.

Of course there are a lot of reasons why appeals and events and other types of fundraising efforts stagnate (or slip) – but there’s a common strategy to looking at how to shake it up and invest new energy in it profitably.

And that starts with breaking down the big number. Someone came in last week with a Spring auction that nets $43,000.

More or less, every year. Now this is a group in a low-income neighborhood, so that’s not too bad. But they have parents sending their kids from all over the city to their programs, so I had a feeling there might be more there there.

I started by asking how much came from ticket sales, how much from the live auction, and how much from the silent auction. Then I went further – how many items went for over $500, for over $1,000, how many had multiple bidders, and so on? And I delved into ticket prices – were they asking everyone to give at the same level, were some people giving more, were those the same people bidding higher on auction items, were parents bringing other parents, how much were there “cliques” of attendees that could egg each other on? Etc.

I was looking for capacity, and for motivation – and for which leads seemed promising if we put more staff resources into pushing them. In other words, if there were three sets of parents who brought grandparents who were high bidders: what were they bidding on; could we feature those items in emails to parents with a “FORWARD ME” button; and could we build in a “3rd Generation” component to spur others to come forward like these folks had?

But just knowing that the event brought in $43,000 wouldn’t have revealed the data that allowed me to suggest this component. It took – breaking it down.
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