The Pitch Episode 60: Make Sure your Fundraising Message is on Pointe
The American Ballet Theatre called me the other day, and it didn’t end well for them. Learn how to engage someone to donate to a cause without selling memberships, subscriptions or snacks.
Make Sure your Fundraising Message is on Pointe
The American Ballet Theatre called me the other day and it didn’t end well for them. Now that I’ve had time to think about their pitch call, I realize they were trying to fundraise for their ballet company, but instead of simply asking me to support their cause, they confused me with a word called, “membership.” Before you pitch to raise funds, don’t be afraid to just ask for the financial support you need. When you cloak your fundraising efforts in words like “membership” you automatically shift a donor’s mindset from giving to receiving. When the representative called me she asked if I enjoyed the ballet and if I would like to become a member. Then she immediately told me the benefits of being a member included receiving a magazine, going to ballet rehearsals and having the opportunity to purchase advance tickets. To which I replied, I don’t need any of those things, but I really like the ballet. Her pitch was dead in the water because she shifted my focus from being a contributor of the ballet to being a shopper at the ballet. I didn’t want to spend $1,200 on a magazine subscription and going to rehearsals. Had she asked me to support American Ballet Theatre for $1,200 and explained to me how my contribution supported the arts in New York City, I would have gladly given, because I love the ballet. But in the end when she couldn’t sell me anything, she told me that perhaps a ballet membership is not for me. To which I replied, I don’t think it is. “The Pitch” challenge today: re-examine a pitch you are using to engage someone to donate to a cause. This could be anything from a charity organization you work with or volunteer for, your place of worship, a school or an alumni association. Are you using words like “membership” to reel in someone to donate? Or are you selling things like unhealthy snacks or silly promotional items to raise money? Try going in for a straight pitch option. Start by first telling the person about your cause and why you are raising money. Ask them to give a financial gift for that cause. If they say no to the direct ask for cash, then try to sell them the stuff as a catchall backup approach. Some people do like to “get” for their “give,” but that’s not true for everybody, and the ones who simply want to support your cause, very well may be your biggest donors yet.
What action did you take as a result? Why?
What current pitch are you using that is disguising its true intention? How can you fix that pitch to be more direct?