Q: At our existing evening gala event, we use facts and emotional hook mid-way through the auction, then ask attendees to sponsor or underwrite certain measurable services. Is this off-limits now?
Simon in New York
A: It's not off-limits at all—in fact this is exactly how we encourage groups to begin to transition their auctions to build larger donors. If you insert a testimonial right before that "fund a need/fund a service" item in your live auction, the donors who give to that item are giving to your mission (not just to win the trip to Hawaii). Therefore, we recommend that those donors who gave to that item should be invited to a subsequent Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event™ (ideally at the home of another donor who attended the auction or a table host from the auction), where a speaker from your organization talks about how the money they gave for that particular "fund a need" will be used—perhaps including a testimonial speaker who will be the beneficiary of that contribution. During that cultivation event, be sure to invite them to a Point of Entry® and to subsequent cultivation events. Ask them to be Ambassadors and host Point of Entry Events or to sit at a VIP table at your next Ask Event™. Then keep cultivating them. Many can become major donors once they know what you really need. After all, they just thought they were coming to an auction!