Use Michael to raise money for your group
Raise Funds, Recruit Members for Your Service Club or Charity
By Michael Angelo Caruso 248-224-9667
[Note: Print out this how-to manual and use it as your success formula for hosting a seminar fundraiser.]
My first experience with fundraisers
When I was attending Trenton High School in the 1970s, my Mom started a Band Booster program to raise money for our marching band.
Big bands were waning in popularity, but many groups were still touring. Duke Ellington’s son, Mercer, had a band. Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, and other big bands were still on the road.
The idea to have these famous jazz bands play at local schools to raise money for the local music program was pure genius. People bought tickets for the concert and a percentage of the gross receipts was contributed to the school after the professional musicians got paid.
The band students and their parents sold tickets, bought tickets and talked up the event. The local media loved to report on famous musicians coming to town.
Often, the local high school jazz band opened for the headliner and got to meet the professional musicians for casual conversation or at quick music clinic.
Service clubs are kind of like the big bands of today because they have the ability to bring communities together.
Rotary, the Optimists and Chambers of Commerce do great work when they are able to grow membership and raise money. That’s why fund raising events are so useful. A good fundraiser can generate both money and members.
As a business consultant, I teach corporations how to increase profit and market share by differentiating their products and services. Using these same business principles, I now teach service clubs to raise money and grow membership by hosting leadership seminars.
Many of these ideas are mine, but I’ve learned a lot from working with talented fund raisers from all over North America. I hope we get to raise money and recruit members for your group soon.
Michael Angelo Caruso
Royal Oak, Michigan
Table of Contents
Why Seminars Are Easy Money
The Important Numbers—Gross, Expenses, Net
The Success Recipe for a Seminar Fundraiser
Appendix 1—Case Studies
Appendix 2—The Event Schedule
About the Author
There are many types of fundraisers, including raffles, auctions, silent auctions, banquets, casino nights, roasts, costume parties, treasure hunts and festivals.
One fundraiser has a local celebrity hauled off to “jail,” where he is imprisoned until he raises money for “bail.”
All of these ideas were exciting when they were first conceptualized, but many of them have become old, tired, clichés that are badly in need of retirement.
What if your service club or district could sponsor an exciting fundraiser that is easier and more fun than most such events? What if the event both educates and entertains attendees?
What if the event would raise money and attract new members in a fun and innovative way? Tweet
The Problem With Most Fundraisers
Let’s face it; most fundraisers are average in that they are only moderately successful.
Many fundraisers burn your people out both physically (too much work) and emotionally (not enough excitement).
Imagine a fundraiser that excites people, but doesn’t wear them down. Imagine a fundraiser where the participants help sell other participants so your people don’t have to do all the selling.
All fundraisers involve an act of altruism, but extraordinary fundraisers offer altruism and value.
Fundraiser Seminars Offer Real Value
The fundraiser success equation is not that complicated.
Most service clubs want to raise money and increase members – that much is clear. But the public wants to receive something of value in exchange for their hard-earned money.
There’s no real value in a raffle ticket, for example. As a ticket seller, you might tell a prospective buyer the ticket “could be worth $10,000.”
But in fact, if you’re selling a lot of tickets, most of the tickets have no value whatsoever. Most ticket buyers know this, but play the game anyway because the money is going to a good cause or because they’ll want to sell you a raffle ticket next time.
In the above scenario, the host of the raffle fails at selling value because there is no value and is now in a mess. Worse, selling raffle tickets is not an effective way to recruit members to your organization.
Compare the unpromising raffle ticket scenario to the following tried and true success formula:
V = M + M Where V is value, the first M is money and the second M is members.
In other words, if you provide a fundraiser that has value, your club will earn money and members.
Professional development seminars tap directly into an undeniable fact about the human psyche—most people are inherently selfish.
Offer folks an opportunity to improve themselves and you’ll have their attention. Seminars offer people self-improvement in many ways, including:
- • Stronger persuasion skills
- • Better leadership skills
- • Sharper communication skills
- • Better tools for dealing with difficult people
- • Tricks for managing time
- • Tips for improving presentations
- • And countless other important lessons
Why this program is so easy to sell
Value like this is easy to sell because people actually want what’s being offered.
They may not, for example, want to “bail someone out of jail” or buy a raffle ticket with poor odds of winning. People buy raffle tickets as a favor to the seller, not because the offer is likely to benefit the buyer.
Compared to a lot of fund raising events, seminars are relatively easy to host. Recently, I attended a fantastic festival held by a service club in southeastern Michigan. Food, music and beer were available.
Security, parking and porta-potties were also supplied. So was first-aid, electrical power, a band, a stage and lighting for the stage. You get the idea.
This kind of event is a lot of work!
Hosting a seminar is easy money for a service club because it requires very little manpower and few physical hours. Sure, club members have to talk up the program and send a few e-mails, but it’s a simple event compared to a festival.
No porta-potties. No security. No muss or fuss.
In fact, the speaker does most of the work! Tweet
Fundraising seminars may never replace your community-wide street fair, but that’s not the point. Use this special learning event to supplement your other fundraising activities.
I’ve developed an effective. turnkey process for hosting such an event.
I hope we get to work together on an event like this. Call me (248-224-9667) to discuss your situation and we’ll make a plan. You can also call into my free, weekly teleconference on the subject every Monday.
Meanwhile, thanks for all the good that you do for your organization. I’m proud of you!
The Important Numbers—Gross, Expenses and Net
When fundraising, the most important number is how many dollars you want to raise for the cause. $3,000? $13,000? $30,000?
If you’re staging an event to raise money, here are numbers to consider in order of importance:
1. How much money do you want to raise?
2. How much will your expenses be (venue, entertainment, hospitality)?
3. What is your projected net revenue?
Gross revenue is the total amount of money generated. Expenses are the costs incurred to promote and host the seminar. Net revenue is how much money you have after all expenses are paid. The idea, of course, is to maximize the net by limiting the expenses.
Let’s say you want to raise $3,000 with a fundraising seminar. This is a modest amount of money, but this number will serve nicely for demonstrative purposes.
If you charge $30 per ticket, you’ll need to attract only 100 paying customers to gross $3,000. The table below lays out three fundraising scenarios. Note the net with 100, 200 and 400 attendees:
Here are three scenarios that lay out the important relationship between gross, net and expenses.
Scenario A – 100 attendees
$30 ticket x 100 attendees = $3,000 gross
15% of gross goes toward $450 in expenses
Gross less expenses = $2,550 net
Scenario B – 200 attendees
$30 ticket x 200 attendees = $6,000 gross
15% of gross goes toward $900 in expenses
Gross less expenses = $5,100 net
Scenario C – 400 attendees
$30 ticket x 400 attendees = $12,000 gross
15% of gross goes toward $1,800 in expenses
Gross less expenses = $10,200 net
Of course, you can raise more money by selling more tickets, raising the ticket price or selling sponsorships. A single $1,000 sponsorship will increase your gross from 10% to 30 percent!
Always arrange a good value for your customers. I routinely charge $125 for people to attend my public seminars, so $30 to attend a three-hour version of my program is quite a bargain.
Tricks for Minimizing Expenses
High expenses can spoil a fundraiser by reducing profits. Even high-grossing fundraisers can fail if expenses are not kept in line.
For example, try to get your speaker to work pro bono.
I usually request a small honorarium for talks and the host covers travel expenses, which usually amount to a coach airfare and a hotel room the night before the event. Sometimes, I split the door with the host.
Find a decent venue that won’t charge you. Work with caterers who provide food for cost. Sometimes you can offer complimentary tickets for such services, but don’t trade too many dollars because this practice will adversely affect profit. Giving away tickets or “comping” works best when you are working with a large venue and not counting on every seat being sold.
When holding a fundraiser seminar, use your service club’s non-profit or 501(c)3 status to get expenses donated. You can also pay expenses with other people’s money (OPM) or sponsorships.
OPM works best when the fundraiser is offering sponsors value and not just asking for a check. Offer sponsors signage, promotional consideration and complimentary tickets. If we work together, I’ll share a valuable document that explains how to get a handful of great sponsors.
There’s no need to spend money on advertising if you conduct a “viral” e-mail marketing strategy. Promote the seminar through e-mail campaigns and personal endorsements. Remember, word-of-mouth is the best advertising, so offer people incredible value and get them talking about your event 60-75 days out.
The Success Recipe for a Seminar Fundraiser
I recommend a simple four-ingredient recipe for assembling copy that advertises and promotes your fundraising event. I’ll send you this copy, if I am your speaker, but here’s the formula if you want to write copy that sells. You must have:
1. A compelling name for the seminar
2. An “elevator speech” that describes the program
3. Teaser language to attract attendees
4. A special “hook” or relevancy, such as a good speaker or timely topic
Magic Ingredient #1: Your Seminar Needs a Provocative Name
Before you title the seminar, you must decide on the subject matter. Of course, you want a topic that’s interesting enough to be special, but not so specialized that only a few people take interest.
It helps to think about who you want to attend the event. If it’s a leadership seminar, do you want to attract front-line employees, managers and supervisors or business owners?
Market to business people who have training budgets. These folks also have the ability to send folks to your event ten at a time.
Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, once gave me some great advice for selling more books.
He said, “It’s easier to sell 100 books to one person, than it is to sell one book to a hundred people each.”
There are several ways to identify a good seminar topic. When deciding on a name for your event, consider the subject relevancy and the specific audience.
The following business topics are always popular: leadership, public speaking, time management and dealing with difficult people. The title should be provocative enough to attract interest, but not weird or risqué.
I like to use a two-part title that is provocative and descriptive at the same time. Here are some examples of two-part titles:
Growing Your Business–How to Profit Even During Slow Times
Time Management–Clever Ways to Gain One Hour a Day
How to Give Killer Presentations—Getting Audiences to Respond
(and if you’re really feeling creative)
Keep the Customer Satisfied, The Sound of Silence and Other Selling Advice From Simon & Garfunkel
Do you see how one part of the title gets your attention and the other part is more explanatory?
I’ve used all of the above titles, but the one that works year after year, in cities all over the world is
The title is the first ingredient of the recipe for seminar success. Strong advertising copy is the second ingredient.
Magic Ingredient #2: The Program Needs an “Elevator Speech”
When promoting seminars, use good copy that sells tickets and gets people talking about your event. Good copy starts with an “elevator speech” that summarizes the essence of the event in a sentence or two. Note: People will use the exact words you give them in the elevator speech.
Words matter, especially when you’re promoting something. I can’t understand why some banks promote something they call “basic checking,” when they could offer “VIP” checking or “preferred” checking.
I’ve helped many dental practices increase revenue by selling “whitening” instead of “bleaching.” Can you appreciate the importance of using the exact right words when advertising your fundraiser? Sell benefits, rather than features.
Make sure the program’s “elevator speech” or thirty-second commercial includes an impressive credential about the speaker, a surprising statistic, a new piece of information and phrases that establish positive expectation.
For example, we can use the title, Effective Leadership–Getting People to Do Stuff, to generate a sample elevator speech to sell the event.
Effective Leadership–Getting People to Do Stuff
International author and speaker, Michael Angelo Caruso, is coming to town to speak on the subject of leadership. Learn more about how to motivate your work team at this great event.
You’ll also learn how to sharpen presentations, improve meetings and of course, how to get people to do stuff.
Magic Ingredient #3: Teaser Language to Entice Folks
You’ve seen teaser language in the best advertising copy. This clever verbiage gives the benefits of attending the program without “giving the store away.”
For the leadership program, for example, you might tell prospective attendees that they’ll learn the two things that motivate people. See how I’ve got you thinking about what those two things might be?
I’m not hardcore about keeping all seminar content a secret. In fact, I’m known for giving a lot of info away in advance of the program. This is sometimes referred to as “sample selling.” Tweet
Here’s a list of bullets featuring “teaser language” for the seminar on leadership. Notice how the bold-face type makes the bullets easier to read:
- Two techniques that motivate people every time
- Why money does not motivate most people
- Why you should never start a meeting late
- How to deal with negativity
- 5 Cool Ideas on how to instantly improve your presentation skills
- A simple technique for confidence that few people practice
- How to better read people using NLP
- The fastest way to show interest in someone
- A fun way to improve your vocabulary spending no time or money
- How to find the Power Seat in any room
- How to be less of a boss and more of a coach
- How to never be the bad guy again
- The “Reward/Consequence” proposal and why it works so well
- Why the “LB/NT” technique is the best way to offer criticism
- How to motivate the four most common personality styles
- The 15 most powerful words you can use with your team
Magic Ingredient #4: The Hook
Relevant topics make well-attended programs. The subject of success sells particularly well at the beginning of the year. If business is slow, offer a topic on stretching the dollar.
A hook can be the most challenging ingredient of the promotion recipe. It’s the secret sauce or the special something that makes everything happen. If you’ve got an average title, a mediocre elevator speech and lame or no teaser copy, you can still sell tickets if your fundraiser seminar has a major hook to attract an audience. The hook that brings an audience to your seminar can be:
- A community event (natural disaster or even a death)
- A special visitor (foreign dignitary, Hollywood celebrity, international author/speaker)
- Relevance (a holiday, a news event or a trend)
When I’m hired to speak at fundraisers, I provide pre-written promotional materials including advertising copy, video clips of yours truly, press release templates and marketing advice via telephone.
Q & A– About How to Host a Fundraising Seminar
Q: What if the event fails and nobody shows up?
A: You will be publicly embarrassed, your reputation will be tarnished and no one will ask you to lunch for three weeks.
Q: How many people do I need to host an event like this?
A: Several at a minimum. It helps if the people involved are “sneezers” or people that can help you conduct a viral ad campaign. Sneezers are enthusiastic supporters who can “infect” the rest of the community.
Q: What’s the single biggest reason for failure?
A: Overestimating the effect of your marketing, not getting enough people excited early enough and trying to conduct all communication via e-mail are common mistakes that can be easily avoided.
Q: Michael, you advise not to pay for advertising. What’s the best form of advertisement?
A: E-mail people free, sample content from the speaker. Include links to videos so people can ascertain the true value of the event and a link to the online registration page. If the speaker’s promotional material and program content is solid, people will buy tickets.
Q: How long should the seminar be?
A: I recommend three hours, from 9 AM until Noon, 1 PM until 4 PM or 6 PM until 9 PM. Each of the sessions can have an accompanying meal or hospitality segment
Now you know more about how to raise money and gain new members by hosting a value-added information seminar as a service club fundraiser. If you create the perception of value, people will buy tickets. If the seminar delivers value, you won’t have to give refunds.
Seminars are easier to execute than most fundraising events and they offer a healthy net. Other benefits include:
- The media loves to interview out-of-town speakers. Your club’s raffle will earn a calendar listing, but a fundraiser seminar will get you a feature story.
- No cleanup.
- Club members will directly benefit from the seminar content.
- Seminar expenses tend to be a low percentage of gross receipts (only 15-20%).
- Ticket holders receive a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
So, what’s next?
You’re welcome to attend my no-cost conference call on the subject of fundraising and event promotion. The call happens every Monday at 4:00 PM ET, a 30-minute, “ask Michael anything” dialog that is always chock full of great marketing tips. Call 218-339-3600 and use access code 686134#.
A free recorded playback is available for up to 24 hours after the live call. To hear the playback, use (218)339-3699 and access code: 686134#. Press: 1 to rewind; 2 to fast forward; 5 to pause/resume.
If you want to book a date, simply contact me by phone (248.224.9667) or e-mail with your preferred event dates.
Whatever you decide, I appreciate you! Best of luck with your fundraising seminars and all your volunteer work!
Appendix 1—Case Studies
My fundraising seminars have been successful all over the world. Here are some true case studies you may find inspirational.
Case Study A: Rotary Club of Van Wert, Ohio
Here’s how the Rotary Club of Van Wert and their local Chamber of Commerce raised over $10,000:
- 400 people attended on a Wednesday afternoon
– The event was titled, “Lead to Succeed”
– Organizers charged $25 each for a gross of $10,000 USD
– Guests were served cookies and bottled water
– The group used a local auditorium at no charge, netting around $9,200 USD (the service club shared a portion of profits with the Chamber)
Case Study B: Lakes Area Rotary Club of Michigan
Here’s how the Lakes Area Rotary Club and their local Chamber of Commerce raised $2,500:
- 125+ people attended this evening event
– The program was titled, “Succeeding in 2008″
– Attendees paid $35 each and took in $3,500 USD gross
– Guests were served hearty apps and fruit punch
– Organizers paid a reduced rate for the high school lobby/auditiorium and paid a caterer, netting around $2,500 USD
Case Study C: Barbados Speaking Tour
Here’s how an Optimist named Yvette Reid introduced me to the country of Barbados and raised over $15,000 USD:
- 3 trips to the Caribbean within about 12 months
– $15,000 gross revenue
– Several speaking events, including programs for The Nation Newspaper, the staff at Sherbourn Conference Centre, Realtors Ltd., and a public presentation at The Grand Salle of the Central Bank, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the Barbados Ministry of Tourism, a TV interview on Good Morning Barbados and a presentation at the local service clubs’ District conference
Case study D: Rotary Club of Danville, Kentucky
This event currently holds the record gross for one of my seminar fundraisers. They raised a whopping $14,000! Wow!! Here’s how they did it:
- Largest single fundraiser in the club’s history
- $50 ticket included lunch
- Event held at brand new Eddie Montgomery steak house
- Co-sponsored by two Rotary clubs (by all accounts, only one did the heavy lifting)
- Primary contact Valery McMann was in constant contact with me three months prior to the program
Our local Rotary clubs used Michael Angelo Caruso to raise money for a local charity. He’s easy to work with and easy to sell. Our group raised $13,656 for a three hour program on leadership. We expect some audience members to join Rotary as a result. Members plus money–what a great day!
-Valery McMann, Rotary Club of Danville, Kentucky
Appendix 2—90 Day Event Schedule
I recommend a 90-day promotion schedule for fundraising seminars. Follow this schedule and your event is likely to be a big success.
90 days out
___ Decide how much money you want to raise
___ Find a workable formula to achieve your projected gross
___ Get buy-in from sponsors, form committee
___ Shop for a venue
___ Confirm speaker (via agreement, send deposit/expenses)
___ Confirm venue
___ Evaluate e-mail distribution lists
___ Attend conference call to get committee excited and answer questions
___ Take stock of various e-mail distribution lists available
___ Receive promo materials from speaker (press release, e-mail templates, video links)
75 days out
___ Create Success Recipe (title, elevator speech, teaser language, hook)
___ Notify local media, Chambers
___ Send first e-mail blast (get people talking early)
___ E-mail or call speaker with progress or concerns
___ Issue press release to local media
60 days out
___ Second e-mail campaign (lots of details, explaining content and value)
___ Secure interviews with radio and TV stations
___ Make human contact with the press
___ Call speaker with a progress report
___ Invite local newspapers, radio and TV to interview speaker
30 days out
___ Third e-mail blast (fewer details this time, but include video links)
___ Call speaker with a progress report
___ Ask local media to interview speaker (media coverage sells tickets!)
14 days out
___ Call speaker with a progress report
___ Sell tickets
___ Send fourth e-mail blast (positive updates on the program, i.e., “we’re going to sell out” or “only 20 tickets left,” or “so and so is sending 10 people to our event”)
7 days out
___ Speaker conducts media interviews by phone
___ Final site visit to confirm details
___ Call speaker with a progress report (discuss final arrangements)
___ Fifth e-mail campaign (last chance to buy tickets, special message from the speaker)
Day of Event!
___ Speaker conducts media interviews in person
___ Host speaker
___ VIP activities with speaker (meals, tours, etc.)
Within 7 days after the event
___ Meet with committee to discuss results and suggest improvements
___ Pay vendors, creditors
___ Send handwritten thank-you cards
___ Present check to beneficiary
___ Contact media for follow-up coverage
___ Commit to the next fundraiser seminar
___ Schedule next seminar
Service organizations have been raising money for a long time. These Web sites have lots of information about how to raise money for your organization.
My Web site has many links that service groups have found useful in promoting my visits. It’s important to sell prospective seminar attendees on the value of the program content and the reputation of the speaker.
Chamber of Commerce References
Candy Kerschen, President,
Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, Greenville, Michigan
Dr. Richard Passmore, Past District Governor,
Rotary District 6460, Macomb, Illinois
Mr. Mike McCullough, Past Director,
Rotary International, Trenton, Michigan
Mr. Bob Parkinson, Past President,
Rotary Club of Hollywood, Maryland
Mr. Wilf Wilkerson, Past President,
Rotary International, Trenton, Ontario, Canada
Mr. Frank Devlyn, Past President,
Rotary International, Mexico City, Mexico
Mr. Larry Wright, Past District Governor,
Rotary District 6400, Taylor, Michigan
Ms. Tammy Laurent, Past District Governor,
Rotary District 5950, Shakopee, Minnesota
Mr. Doug Andrews, Past District Governor,
Rotary District 6890, Tampa, Florida
Mr. Lou Piconi, Past Director,
Rotary International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mr. Barry Rassin, Past Director,
Rotary International, Nassau, Bahamas
Mr. Mike Yesner, Past District Governor,
Rotary District 6440, Des Plaines, Illinois
Ms. Lou Moss, Past Governor,
Michigan Optimist District, Shelby Township, Michigan
Dr. Mike Listenberger, Past President,
Optimist International, Niles, Michigan
Ms. Ronnie Dunn, Past President,
Optimist International, Frankfort, Kentucky
Mr. Yves Berthiaume, Past President,
Optimist International, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Mr. Mark Weinsoff, Past Vice-President,
Optimist International, Goleta, California
Mr. Ron Donkers, Past Governor.,
Indiana North District, Warsaw, Indiana
About the Author–Michael Angelo Caruso
Michael Angelo Caruso has delivered over 2,000 presentations and keynote speeches on the subjects of leadership, team building, selling and pro-active communication. He has spoken in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and 49 of the 50 states.
He is founder and President of the Edison House, an international consulting firm that provides corporate and personal improvement. Edison House clients include Bank of America, Verizon Wireless, Citgo, Rayovac, Hallmark, the National Institutes of Health and the United States Navy.
Michael has educated and entertained audiences all over the world, drawing on a previous career in the telecommunications industry and a decade as a professional musician.
Michael is also author of the 5 Cool Ideas books and the FastLearnerAudio series. He has also published an audio book on legacy titled, Dear Michael Angelo—A Father’s Life Lessons to His Son.
Mr. Caruso is a long-time member of Rotary. He resides in Royal Oak, Michigan, the most unique small town in America.