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Five Tips to Fundraise the Ronco Way


Five Tips to Fundraise the Ronco Way

“But wait! There’s more!”

That legendary line was coined by Ron Popeil an inventor and salesman in the 1950’s. He pioneered infomercials for his company, Ronco. He sold millions of dollars of his inventions like the Chop-O-matic, Egg Scrambler, Pocket Fisherman, etc. His claim to fame was that he made sure that every doubt in the customer’s mind was wiped away.

Isn’t that what those of us who are fundraisers want to do? We want to engage our donors and have them so enthralled that they don’t have any doubt that the money they give us will be used to further the mission of the nonprofit. “But wait! There’s more!”

When I ask for money, my goal is not to ask a donor for money. I hear your collective gasp. You may be thinking, “Wait a minute Robin, you are a fundraiser. Your job is to ask for money, correct?”

Yes, technically that is my job. But I like to challenge myself with these steps:

1. I want to learn as much about the donor or potential donor as I can.

2. When I meet with them, I give them an overview of what is new and exciting that is happening at the nonprofit and that it is attributed to our generous donors, like them.

3. I pause. Which sometimes feels like hours but is only seconds.

If I’ve listened attentively to what they are interested in and explained what we are doing that encompasses what they are passionate about, they’ll ask the magic question. “How can I help?”

That’s my cue to tell them how much we need to raise for this program, capital campaign or project. I say, “We need four—$50,000 donors, ten—$10,000 donors, etc. Many times, I have heard them say, “I can’t give you $50,000, but I can give you $10,000.”

Fundraisers have conflicting beliefs about asking for an exact dollar amount. I think that it depends. More times than not, when I ask for an exact amount, I find out later that the donor was prepared to give us a larger gift.

I found a potential donor who had just bought a house in the area. In my research, I uncovered that she had established a foundation for children. I cold called the phone number that I found. Surprisingly, she answered her cell phone and told me to send her information. I had no response from her with each of my attempts to verify that she received the information.

About four months later, she called and said she was in town and wanted to give us a gift. Since she had never given to us before, I was prepared to ask her for $10,000 which was a similar size gift that she had given to other organizations and was a typical first-time gift for our donors.

She asked me to tell her about what we were doing that was unique in performing arts. She said that programs to provide children with access to the performing arts was interesting to her. Then she asked, “What do you need to make that program the gold standard?” I said, “$100,000 to get it started.” She asked, “Would you also be willing to give scholarships to kids who can’t afford to pay the fee to participate in the program? If so, I’ll give you $115,000.”

If I had asked for a pre-determined amount of $10,000, she wouldn’t have felt like she was having the huge impact that she wanted. If I hadn’t used the Ronco method and been prepared with the, “But wait! There’s more!” we would have received a much smaller gift.

Here are some tips of how you can apply the “But wait! There’s more!” to your fundraising:

1. Case Statement—Write your organization’s case statement. Not just one or two pages, but closer to 17 pages with photos and text that tells the story of your case for support. Leave no doubt in the donor’s mind that you will be true to your mission and a good steward of their gift.

2. Research—Do your research before meeting with the donor or potential donor so that your stories, antidotes, and nonprofit’s direction will resonate with them, and they will want more!

3. Pause—Use the power of the pause. When you say what your organization needs, pause, and wait for them to fill in the conversational space, not you.

4. Engage—Engage new potential donors with a fun auction like ReadyAuction™ offered by ZGIVE which is fun and interactive. What a great introduction for the donor to your organization with something fun.

5. Challenge yourself—Issue a challenge to yourself. See if you can have a convincing case for support and tell such a compelling story that they ask, “How can I help?”

Just like you, sometimes I need to ask for money because not every person will ask me the magic question. But putting myself in the frame of mind that if I do my job of stating the case for support, it helps me stay focused on conveying the mission of the organization through our important programs and projects.

Have fun with, “But wait! There’s more!” and see if you can stimulate conversation with your donors.