“Hangin’ with Henry” and talking about group solicitation strategies

It is the first Thursday of the month, which can only mean one thing at DonorDreams blog. We’re “Hangin’ With Henry” today and talking about fundraising shortcuts like the group solicitation.  
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After listening to Henry for the last 6 minutes, I was transported back in time to my earliest fundraising solicitations as a District Executive working for Boy Scouts of America’s Northwest Suburban Council. While part of their Friends of Scouting annual campaign pledge drive model was based on in-person, one-on-one, face-to-face solicitation, the bigger part of it was group solicitations in front of gatherings of parents at Cub Scout Pack Nights and Boy Scout Court of Honor events.
I honestly don’t miss dragging the old slide projector and screen all of the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. LOL
As I listened to Henry, everything rang true. I learned the hard way that highly capable donors lowered their philanthropic sights when solicited in a group setting.
I also remember learning that the smallest dollar amount mentioned during my presentation usually resulted in scads of pledge cards with that number on it. It was with this lesson that I re-trained myself to do the following during my group asks:

  • Stop saying: “Even a gift of $25 makes a difference.”
  • Start saying: “People who pledge $150 tonight will walk out with a complimentary Norman Rockwell coffee mug.”
  • Bring a box of donated chotskies (e.g. yo-yo’s, baseball cards, etc) and tell parents their kids were welcome to a free gift if they allowed them to bring their pledge cards to the front of the room.

Ahhhhh, those were fun days when fundraising was new to me and every day brought a new lesson.  🙂
(Note: Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m not very proud of some of the group solicitation tactics I employed even though I became one lean, mean group solicitation machine compared to my fellow co-workers. Needless to say, I was nothing more than a transactional fundraiser who couldn’t say “donor-centered” if I tried.)
Henry did indicate there can be an appropriate time and place for your organization to employ a group solicitation strategy. For example, some non-profit organizations are very successful with Terry Axelrod’s annual campaign model that you might know as Benevon.
If your organization uses a group solicitation fundraising strategy, please scroll down to the comment box and answer one of the following questions:

  • under what circumstances do you use a group solicitation?
  • what are a few “lessons learned” that you feel comfortable sharing?
  • how do you ensure that larger donors aren’t lost in the shuffle and contribute less?
  • how do you create a sense of urgency for donors to ink their pledge cards on the spot?
  • what post-solicitation follow-up strategies do you use with pledge cards that walked out the door?
  • what pre-solicitation cultivation strategies and post-solicitation stewardship strategies work best for you?

Please take a minute to share your thoughts and experiences.
If you want to purchase a complete set of videos or other fundraising resources from Henry Freeman, you can do so by visiting the online store at H. Freeman Associates LLC. You can also sign-up for quarterly emails with a FREE online video and discussion guide by clicking here.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC