Does the adage, “Sex sells.”, ring true for fundraising? Last week, “20/20” featured a segment on Charity Angels, a Los Angeles-based company that hires good-looking women to “work the room” during nonprofit fundraising events. According to their website, The Charity Angels have successfully partnered with over 100 non-profits to help raise over $10 million dollars for organizations across the United States.
Charity Angels join a growing group “fundraisers for hire” in which individuals outside of the nonprofit organization are hired to be the face of the organization at events or make phone calls on behalf of the organization. Whether or not these “hired guns” are a growing trend, they CAN NOT take the place of professional fundraising staff especially, those who serve as major gifts and individual giving staff members.
As professional fundraising staff, you live and breathe your organization’s mission, strategic plan and impact . You are skilled at building donor relationships and securing life-long philanthropists for your organization. You are often the first one in the office and the last one to leave because you have “just one more call to make.” You have created and implemented strategies that have provided donors with the unique opportunity to save and transform lives.
It takes more than a pretty face to build lasting donor relationships. “Fundraisers for hire” don’t build a culture of philanthropy and they definitely don’t take the place of your volunteers and leadership in sustaining donor relationships.
During this season of summer fundraisers and planning for fall galas here are 5 tips to keep relationship building at the center of your work.
1) Create an engagement plan for your key guests focused on the experience you want them to have, who you want them to meet, messages you want them to hear and feel, and the outcomes you want to achieve as a result of their attendance.
2) Have specific roles for your leadership, mission staff, volunteers and “clients” at your event.
3) Prepare leadership, mission staff, volunteers and “clients” for their roles prior to your event including a briefing on key individuals, talking points and pictures so they can identify key individuals and donors.
4) Arrange “mission stations” sprinkled around the event – pictures of the kids in your program, mission staff or “clients” demonstrating some aspect of your programs or have program volunteers answering questions.
5) Develop post event follow up plans for your guests in advance of your event-customize this follow up based upon the guest’s relationship with your organization.
So yes, in some industries sex does sell. But we are not in the business of selling. Our sector is focused on changing and transforming lives. You are more than a pretty face; for many you are THE FACE of your organization and you wear it well!