July 17, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 1 "What Doesn't Work?"

"What Doesn't Work" is the title of this post and, I know, this is supposed to HELP you with your fundraising efforts, not criticize. If this series of articles is going to help you understand how to effectively fund-raise we have to start off with things that really do not work to the degree we would all hope. Please take my comments regarding what each and every HBA does for member contact as it pertains to fundraising as "tongue in cheek" but with some truths in the observations.

Part 1 "What Doesn't Work?" 

The need for political fundraising occurs and the usual group of members gather and come up with an idea for a fundraiser. Now most ideas are worthwhile while some are just not going to produce interest from the members. I'm not going to tell you what are good ideas and what are bad ideas. Each area of the country decides that based on demographics and regional make up. However what I will tell you is that all the HBAs go about it the same way:

1. Need for dollars.
2. A meeting to discuss fundraising event.
3. Decision on the event is made.
4. The usual process for "the chasing of dollars" begins:

Mass mailing to general membership
Yes, the old tried and beaten method is up and running again. The idea for a PAC event is sent out to the entire membership with the hopes that the envelope was attractive enough to gain the recipient's attention long enough so that your PAC mailing is opened. 
What we don't know is how much mail the general member receives on a daily basis. Your mailing could very well end up here:

You just might have some success in getting the member to really give your mailing enough attention that they will sign up for the event. But then again, when they see the dollar amount that you're asking for the mailing maybe left on that cluttered desk or it may be filed below in the circular filing cabinet:


Advertised and announced in your HBA publication
It look good, doesn't it? Your event in color and for all to see. It explains the particulars and, of course, there is probably a registration piece and the dollar amount. Most newsletters that are sent to members offices usually end up go to their "library:"

Think about it and be very honest; am I right or am I right?? I don't mean to be graphic but when you are in "read mode" the chances of you calling your HBA to sign up for the event, and are also ready to write a check or give your credit card number over your cell phone at that precise moment, is slim to none. The chances you may bring the publication with you from the "library" may be slightly better. Mostly likely your publication will be placed with a three year old Readers Digest and The Bathroom Game Book.

Blast emails to your membership distribution list

The email is drafted and approved. The distribution list is selected, BCC of course, and you click send. That was extremely easy. Your email is now going to quite a few members and we know that the internet is fast and reliable. How could your members not sign up now?
Along the way your email hit a few snags..... 

I think you're getting the message. Mass mailings, publications and distribution list email blasts just are not that effective. But all hope is not lost, you have a general membership meeting between now and the PAC event. 
Here's probably what you'll do:

1. HBA president will speak to the audience or
2. the PAC chairman will speak to the audience or
3. the executive officer will speak to the audience or
4. SOMEBODY from the event planning committee will speak to the audience.

The audience, if they are like the average general membership meeting audiences, will be engaged in conversations at their tables and not really focused on the speaker explaining the event, talking about "how much fun you will have and please fill out the forms that are in front of you on the table." The forms generally stay on the table after the event.

Let's face it, if any of the above methods worked there would really not be a need to use the remaining methods. Now, what do all four of these commonly used methods have in common? There is no member to member contact, no peer to peer. It's all done in blocks of many members with each method given the singular member of the multiple members an opportunity to ignore the PAC event because the bottom line is the perceived view on how this affects their own bottom line. You've given each member a chance not to participate. 
Would an associate, as an example, stand up in front of a large group of builders, or use any of the other methods, and hope for a sale? Not if they truly want to be successful persuading the builder to buy their product or service.

In order for PAC fundraising to be successful you have to speak to members one on one or, at the most, in a manageable group, where intimate discussions can take place. In order for you to persuade members to invest in the PAC and\or a general event, you have to explain how the political process as well as how the synergy of the HBA staff and members work within that political process. 

Next week I will write about the legislative process and how HBA staff and active members blend their efforts to work within that process. This will help you with the structure of what the general member doesn't see but certainly feels. If you understand it will help you become more persuasive in your ask for an investment.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

1 comment:

Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis said...

I agree, Mike. Unless you can portray your passion in writing, it is hard to convey how important their contribution is. It is truly more of who is doing the asking than it is who is being asked when it comes to fundraising.