Don’t Be Afraid to Dip Into the Fundraiser Recognition Pool

We Believe Sweater

Just another day at the office. (Turnkey CEO sports a “We Believe” sweater.)

Sometimes my nonprofit clients are shy to dip into the Fundraiser Recognition Program Pool. No matter how many stats I throw at them, (and I have a tendency to throw bunches), or how many testimonials or ROI case studies we present, sometimes it just isn’t enough to get a full-on, “can’t-wait-to-see-our-event-ignite” response.

Take for example, the national nonprofit organization, Autism Speaks. After many months of hard discussions, presentations, and meetings, the staff collectively agreed to give us a try… sort of.

We were able to pilot a watered-down version of our program over 20 events during 2011 and 2012. The programs were a diffused version of what we normally bring to the table and consequently, met with a varying degree of support from the staff and volunteer leadership. (The support ranged from resistance to enthusiasm.)

By a “watered-down version” of our program, I mean our full complement of pre-event communications and other program marketing tools were not used. STILL, the pilot programs look like a raging success from a data analysis perspective. (Could not have done such a thorough analysis without Ben Engel and Shawna Sopp. You guys managed to rock it while having babies and getting married and heaven knows what else!)


Our experience suggests that although the outcomes are VERY positive, we still can do much more as we know that the majority of gain is wrought from communicating directly to the fundraiser the “offer” of a recognition gift for a certain level of fundraising.

(OK, I won’t bombard you with even more research here, but visit Turnkey’s Research page and download “Case Study: An Analysis of Incentive Program Impact on Donation Transactions and Dollars.” This case study shows how our communications DRAMATICALLY impact donation dollars after they are deployed. OR, take a look at some of these oldies but goodies. Go ahead. Take a look. I’ll wait….)

Back to Our Pilot Story…
Some would say a 500% return is enough. NOT ME. We’ve shown a little leg, now I want to reveal the FULL MONTY.

Recommendations are on the table and include a full-on marketing communications and recognition program with a supporting website, a pre-event communication strategy and staff training — all done by us and part of our normal shebang bang. We are also pitching fundraising team and branded apparel tactics and a whole lota other action items. (I would tell you more but my sales manager Tracy Clark yells at me every time I reveal too much about how we do what we do.)

This time next year I hope to report back to you that:

  1. ALL 89 Autism Speaks events participated in a national fundraiser recognition program,
  2. The fundraiser/event participant individual income levels went through the roof … AGAIN, and
  3. The AS staff was so overjoyed about all the extra time they had because we managed it all they crocheted me a sweater that said, “We Believe!” or “WB” for short.

And when THAT happens, my friends, it would really be just another day at the office.


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