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  • Michelle Gilmore

Andy Jackson, A Fundraiser’s Best Friend!

I have had the pleasure of meeting with committees from every size of nonprofit organization to help strategize for an upcoming fundraising event. I had a great conversation with one of those groups today, and I shared a “Pro Tip” that I have told many times over the last 10 years. I can honestly say that I have included this strategy in every gala, golf event or walk/run no matter what size the event, or organization for that matter.


We want the 20 bucks’s from everyone in the room. Each person (not per couple), and multiple $20s are even better. Here’s WHY:

  1. Everyone has $20 bucks to spend.

  2. They want to play! It is well documented that there is something about giving that makes people feel good. It makes them feel like they are part of a team - a team to end homelessness or cure a disease. We are instinctively teammates, and there is a drive to participate that makes the $20 give a no-brainer.

  3. Simple math tells the story. Sample: $20 Wine Pull. Bottles of wine are donated by the board, planning committee, and a local wine distributor, each bottle with a minimum value of $20. With 100 bottles, at a “suggested donation” price point of $20, you will confidently raise $2,000, and likely more, as people will often donate more than the suggested amount. ** See the Lemonade Stand Theory in Summer 2019 blog post.

  4. Raffle tickets - I’m a sucker for a good raffle! 1 for 5 - 2 for 10 - and an arm’s length for $20. Five or 7 items (I’m an odd #s kind of girl), all donated. This is an excellent place to group the “dog” items together and make them seem better. Here is the kicker - have one over-the-top gadget, an Apple watch, or the latest tech craze toy, even if you have to purchase it. Those $20 worth of tickets should be a bright color and should be “worn” by all staff and volunteers. The competitive spirit kicks in, and those Jacksons turn into Bens bringing in $5,000 in no time!

  5. Overpricing all chances “to win” can turn off a crowd, and could backfire. Even though they were told to bring people who can spend, those board members and sponsors who purchased tables, trying to fill their seats at the last minute, give them to family members and clients who may otherwise not buy a ticket to attend the event. (All of you are shaking your heads in agreement right now, I love it :).


They show up, partake in the open bar, enjoy the 4-course chicken dinner, and watch the live auction as a spectator. Earlier, at the pre-event party, they saw that the lowest silent auction items were bidding for $350 or higher, and now with the lowest giving level of $100 on the raise the paddle, they haven’t made a donation all night and the evening is almost over.

A giving wall, with every level of gift shown, 200 spots $1 to $200, can bring in $20,000 ( you read this correctly).

Pro Tips

  1. - tie each donation level with an ask ($22 for art supplies),

  2. - each “donation” is entered into a chance to win a trip or ??

  3. - have a dynamic volunteer crew selling these opportunities

  4. - sell these at the pre-party and inside the event. Ask the auctioneer to make a final ask - close it with a countdown…

  5. When checking out, ask guests if they’d be willing to round up to the nearest 5 or 10.

A glass of bottomless champagne can also serve this purpose - $25 per glass, 104 glasses only (2 decks of cards) - a winner is drawn for the grand prize (blingier = better)... $3500 in revenue.


By including every guest in giving (and acknowledgment), you are creating an opportunity for guests to become donors. As they know more about your organization, they become future sponsors, volunteers, and major gift supporters, all from a $20 donation.

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