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Episode 54: Is a Friendraiser a Waste of Time?

Feb 06, 2020

Is A Friendraiser a Waste of Time? 

Are you wasting time and money on “friendraisers” that barely generate any donors or volunteers?

In this episode, we are going to chat about the goal and purpose of a friendraiser.

What is a Friendraiser

Let’s first define what a friendraiser is.  It’s a non-ask event. No request for funding.  It’s a way to educate guests on the great work your organization is doing but in a friendly way, a casual way.  And what I am about to say is really important, there is no cost to attend a friendraiser. It’s free. 

However, while I’m suggesting to you that the event be casual in nature, they do serve a very important purpose for your organization.  And there are specific reasons you want to host this type of event. Do you know what they are? 

Well, i got good news.  I’m going to tell you. There are 6 reasons you need to be hosting several “friendraisers” throughout the year. 

But first let’s talk about what a “friendraiser” looks like in regards to how they are organized and logistics, etc.

A “friendraiser” is typically a small, intimate gathering held in someone’s home.  Perhaps a board member or supporter host the event. The host invites friends, family and colleagues to attend.  The list of attendees is usually small, 15 to 20 people. Maybe there are light appetizers, tea and coffee served.  The event is about an hour in length. Fifteen to 20 minutes of the event is spent on someone from the organization, usually the Executive Director, addressing the crowd in an informal on the mission of the organization.  

Now that we know the logistics, let’s dive into the reasons to host one that will clearly show why they are NOT a waste of time.  

Reason #1 Build awareness about your organization.  

I do believe with all my heart that this is the primary reason you should host this type of event.  If you attempt to host one of these events with a greedy heart and mind, I think it will be evident to the guests.  Your aim is to share your mission, stats, impact stories, and testimonials to those in attendance. The hope is the guests will learn about your organization and the values will be aligned. 

The next reason has to do with capturing leads to convert leads into donors and volunteers. This leads me to reason #2 

Reason #2 Recruit volunteers to help support your programs and services

This one is pretty straight forward.  If your organization is volunteer run or heavily assisted, hosting a friendraiser can be a fantastic way to grow your volunteer base. During your presentation, you can talk about ways to volunteer and the impact  volunteering has on the organization. 

Tip:  Have a way to capture names of those showing interest in volunteering.  It can be as simple as a sign-up sheet that gets passed around the room during the presentation.

Reason #3 Recruit for board members

For this one, it’s not going to be easy to spot a potential board member in the room while hosting one of these friendraisers.  For this, you’ll have to rely on the host to provide you information about each guest and ask your host to be sure to tell you if there is a guest that’s going to be present that’s an ideal candidate for becoming a board member.    

Reason #4 Identify folks willing to host a friendraiser in their home

Something I believe strongly is people want to help!  There’s no better or easier way for someone to help your organization then by hosting a friendraiser in their home.  Again, during your presentation, ask who might be interested in helping to spread the word and host an event “just like this” in their home.  Again, send around a sign-up sheet for those who are interested. Remind your potential host that the event they are attending tonight is a great example of how easy it can be and add that they may want to ask the person who invited them for tips and tricks on how to invite and host. 

In fact, sometimes a host will introduce the ED of the organization and will also add a little something about how they got themselves got involved.  It’s at this time that the host can also invite others to sign up to host an event just like this AND add they are happy to chat about following the event or at a later time.  

Reason #5  Begin the cultivation cycle

The hope for a fundraiser is to cultivate guests into possibly making a gift to your organization.  Not everyone who attends these point of entry events is going to feel aligned with your organization.  These events are kind of like going on a first date. If the date goes well, you’ll likely get a second date.  Which leads me to reason the final reason...

Reason #6 A Follow-up Plan

Like I said earlier, the most important thing about hosting a friendraiser is to build awareness.  But the second most important thing, in my opinion, is in the follow-up plan.  

If you do this friendraiser right, you’ll end up with a list of names and contact info such as an email address.  Following the event, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Enter all names into your database
  2. Check the box for volunteer or potential fundraiser host if they signed up on the sign-up sheet for one of those categories
  3. Create an outreach plan for each person who attended.  For this plan, you’ll divi up the list of names amongst the Executive Director, Development Director, board, and any other key staff to reach out to the guests.  The plan should include whether or not the guest will be asked for a 1:1 visit, or a call, or perhaps being sent an email is enough.

I bet your thinking, what are these 1:1, calls or emails regarding?   First off, you want to thank them for attending. Next, you’ll want to ask them what specifically they liked learning about the organization.  This will help inform you of your next question, which is do they want to meet to discuss volunteering, or perhaps host a fundraiser in their home, or maybe there is interest in becoming a volunteer, or attending the next marquee fundraising event where there is an ask being done, or perhaps there is an opportunity to invest financially in the organization.  

The overall goal is to get started on building and strengthening your community of supporters in all these areas.   

Finally, I want you to declare right now that you’re on board for hosting fundraisers now that you know the point and purpose.  Build these events into your annual efforts and track against them to see if they brought in volunteers, donors, board members, additional hosts, etc.  You’ll be surprised how friendraisers truly are #amustfor2020


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