Samantha Swaim emphasized the “special appeal” as the most important element of a nonprofit’s fundraising auction, because that’s where the money is. She spoke Thursday to Mid-Valley Development Professionals in its 2015 kickoff event.
Swaim heads Swaim Strategies, a Portland firm that focuses on nonprofit events and fundraising strategy. She is pictured above, right, with MVDP President Nancy Duncan.
Research shows that 87 percent of major donors prefer to give at events, she said, indicating the importance that events should have for nonprofit organizations.
A special appeal, often held during the live auction at a nonprofit’s special event, generates the most income. It contains three parts: the story, the ask and the collection.
The story is where you build your case for support, she said. Ideally it’s a one-person story, which has the most impact. She quoted Mother Theresa who said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
The ask is a call to action, usually an appeal for unrestricted funds.
The ask leads to collecting gifts through participants either raising numbered bid cards or paddles to indicate giving amounts or completing envelopes containing checks or credit card numbers. Bid cards are most effective, she said, especially when there are pre-committed donors who raise their cards at giving levels, prompting others to do the same. “Money begets money,” she said.