Having an annual benefit gala can be a wonderful thing. There is of course a lot of work that will have to go into it. If you are intending to have a silent auction silent auction items ideas or live auction as well there will be the need to have some people soliciting for donation items or items that they can get on consignment. First thing before you decide to really get the ball rolling is to make sure that this is being planned far enough in advance. Preferably six months or more is ideal if you want to make sure you can get enough items to really make it a wonderful event.
It is also a really good idea to have a team of volunteers working on the event to make calls or write request letters. If you can find people that have had experience soliciting for charities then this would be excellent. At least finding people that aren’t afraid to pick up the phone is a really good start. Find these people through the supporters your charity currently has, send an announcement out on Facebook or Twitter. Get your supporters involved even if they aren’t going to be making the calls. They will still know about it and might have some connections that could either get you someone that will make the calls or maybe find someone that can give donated items or consignment items, essentially skipping a step and getting you one step closer to success at your setup.
The next step after you have a team in place would be to get a pipeline of companies that you would like to donate. This is going to be different for each charity, because it is really going to be specific to your theme. For example if you are putting on a charity event for the Human Society, it would be a good idea to try to get items that animal lovers would enjoy. Look for the companies that are up and coming, have something unique or are under-exposed in the market. Think of it from the companies perspective. This is exposure for them, marketing in a vacuum if done right. They are hitting their target market and supporting a great cause, they want to contribute, but you need to find the right company. That is what developing your pipeline is all about. You will want to have this prior to getting your team on the phone, leaving the call list to be developed on the spot is going to waste a lot of everyone’s time. People that are making the calls, should do just that, you should be the person that sets them up for the close. Give them the best leads with the best script to reference with all of the ways to overcome objections and your job is half way done.
Once you have your pipeline established and you are starting to get on the phone, you will need to have an organized way of tracking the calls, it is useless if you are expecting the people calling to have an excellent way to organize their information. Some will, while others have some crazy system that will only make sense to them. The best thing to do is to create your pipeline template in Google Docs, this way it is shareable to everyone, so if someone needs to come in and change something on the spot, they will not need to get the access to the computer that was being used for the calls.