Zan Auctions Blog

Our goal is to help you surpass your fundraising expectations.

Educate your board on how to do their work!

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 was everything you hoped for and more!


Zan Auctions ended with a bang, making 300 times more for our last client than they made the year before. How do we achieve such chart topping success? It’s all about the pre-game. My client took all of my consultation for pre-gaming The Paddle Raise, the Live, and more and hustled to make the notes become a reality, and touchdown! Now, I’ve got some information for you on pre-gaming with your Board.


We know that we rely on Board involvement for about 50% of our fundraising. That’s a huge responsibility of theirs, but have we been responsible and educated them as to how to do their work?


Cindi Phallen, an expert in Board Development recently gave a talk at the Association of Fundraising Professionals and shed some light on the matter. I’ll share some of it here with you, but to learn more from her, please visit her website at


Remind your Board:

1. Fundraising takes work, but the work can be fun! It’s all about relationship building.
2. If you believe in your organization, it should be a pleasure, not a chore to share your passion.
3. Have a personal story ready, why this is their passion. Not what we do, but why we do it.


Let’s talk about language and your Board:

4. Erase the words Ask, Give, Campaigner, and Fundraising from your vocabulary.
5. Instead let’s use Invite, Invest, Ambassador, and Outreach (aka telling stories about the org.)
6. After they have their story, then they can invite their friends to invest in the cause.


Board Success is Preparation:

7. Ask them to have their story ready, equip them with a few facts about the organization, then they “invite” their friends to join them and to “invest” in the community. See, no one is “asking” for anything.
8. Engage with potential donors ahead of time! Invite them for a tour, to volunteer, to see a program, and share success stories of the organization. Bring them in the fold, and let them be inspired as you were.


The good news, is that humans are social creatures and we want to be invited to the party! Did you know that 20% of donors would do something more if they were asked specifically to do more than invest dollars? That’s 20% who want a stronger relationship. Being a Board member is being an Ambassador of the organization, with a personal story of why their heart is in it, and Inviting their friends to Invest in the cause. Invite them to the party figuratively, and then literally! See you at the gala!



Zan Aufderheide


For a free e-book “Turn Your Board Into a Fundraising Machine” go to

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237 Hits

Think of your donor base as your field of vegetables.

Joan Garry Podcast ImageYou have to touch base, and take care of them during the year, to be able to ask them to show up once a year and fill your basket.


“Cultivating the relationship, helps the ask become a natural progression of the relationship, rather than this thorny objective we need to accomplish. Our donors will want to come forward because they are enthusiastic about the organization, and because they are enjoying the relationship with you.”


Brian Saber in Joan Garry’s Podcast “Nonprofits are Messy” Episode 22: The Art and Science of The Ask


The following are also from Joan Garry’s Podcast. I suggest you listen to her work, but in case you don’t have time to download them right now, here are some choice words of wisdom.


Role Playing The Ask.

“You’ve been so wonderful to us. Thank you for supporting the work we’ve been able to do. You’ve helped build this (foundation, organization, school, etc.). As you know (insert problem here. Funding dropped out, growing into new building, serving more people, etc.). And I’m really hoping, I know this is more than you have done, but I’m hoping you will consider a gift of (whatever you think they can raise up to) because what that would do is allow us to do is (fill in the blank). “ Ask them to be a part of the legacy.


If you think it’s too much.

“We could split it up throughout a number of years. Or if you could consider making a gift of 10K now, and I realize that’s a lot. We could use that as a gift to encourage others to step up and make a larger gift as well.”


To bring them back to your organization:

“Ask them if they’d like to re-engage and touch the work a little by coming to and event, or stop by the store (or whatever works for you) and see how the gift will impact us.”


Role Playing If The Ask Fails:

YOU: “Hi ________,” this is ____________ I’m on the Board at _________________. How are you? I was calling because you had attended our gala last April. I imagine you go to a lot of these, so I don’t know if you remember, but we had __________________.

It was a really nice night wasn’t it? And we were really pleased, and did really well.

And you made an extraordinary gift from the floor. It’s unusual for people to give that kind of a gift, and you have been really generous. And we were wondering if you’d be willing to consider making that pledge now and consider making an additional pledge of (whatever the next level up is) to our annual fundraiser. It would help us reach a pretty aggressive goal that we have this year to make sure that we have all the resources we need to make sure _____________.”


RESPONSE: “Well, I’m not thrilled with the idea. I haven’t heard anything from you, like, I mean, do you have a newsletter? I was thanked for being there, but not for my money. And I’m irritated at your dropping the ball on cultivating a relationship.”


YOU: Ask them out for coffee and ask if you can bring someone from development with you because it could have happened to others. Congratulations, you just kept that donor as a member of your organizations family!


Donors are often upset because they care about the organization. We can’t slight them on thank yous. This is how the Board and staff members are turning lemons into lemonade and not worrying about being perfect, because caring matters more than being perfect.


As Jim Bennet Chief Development Officer at Lambda Legal says, don't get into analysis paralysis and find reasons not to make the ask. A) My client data is old or incomplete. B) I don’t know this person. C) There’s no institutional relationship. Just start the conversation and start the relationship.


Zan Auctions can’t recommend Joan Garry’s Podcast “Nonprofits Are Messy” highly enough. Benefit Auctions, Fundraisers, Organizations, Schools with Live Auctions, Fund A Need, Paddle Raise, Board Members, Volunteers, Development Teams, and more will get a wealth of information from Joan and her guests.
Consider listening to an episode on your ride home today.

Find her at iTunes:


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259 Hits