Q: We have had a Free One-Hour Ask Event for ten years now and have raised over $7 million dollars in all. Do you have any advice for us on how to spruce the event up? We want to keep the model but inject some freshness into the event. Thoughts?
Christine in Ottawa, Canada
A: Start by making sure you are keeping up with all the other elements of the Benevon Model—most importantly, your Points of Entry. Check out the top ten metrics on our Sustainable Funding Scorecard—this week's E-New$ feature—and focus on having every Table Captain be someone who has been a successful Ambassador in the year prior to each year's Ask Event™. An Ambassador is someone who is passionate about your organization and brings at least ten people to Point of Entry® Events during the year. Our formulas show that a much higher percentage of these recent Point of Entry guests will attend the Ask Event and join your Multiple-Year Giving Society™ (giving a minimum of $1,000 a year for five years). Our metrics call for 10% of the Ask Event guests to join that society newly each year. That, in turn, means you will need to keep the pipeline filled with new people who have been educated and inspired at your Point of Entry, followed up and cultivated—what we refer to as "ripened fruit." Our formulas call for a minimum of 40% of each year's Ask Event guests to be "ripened fruit".
The purpose of the Ask Event is to harvest each year's newly ripened fruit. Therefore, the Ask Event should be for new people each year. It should not be a feel-good for the same donors who are already giving and love your organization. Those donors should be invited to Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events™ or cultivated for major gifts in a much more personal, high-touch manner focused on the area of your mission that they are most passionate about.
In other words, over time, we find that many self-implementer groups tend to use the Ask Event as a substitute for either the Point of Entry or the Free-Feel Good Cultivation Event.
Having said that, if you still want to freshen up the event's program, I'd recommend you choose a theme for the event related to some aspect of your mission, such as "what if" or "I had no idea" or "changing a life." Tie each element of the program (testimonial speaker, Visionary Leader speech, etc.) to the theme. Do not add or eliminate any program elements; simply modify them each year to match your theme for the year.
I hope that helps recalibrate things a bit for you, Christine. Good luck.