Norman Gildin Says, “It’s Not Fundraising if You Don’t Sweat!” is one nonprofit veteran’s take on how to exceed your financial goals. Here’s what Norman Gildin has to share:
Penny Marshall directed a 1988 American fantasy drama film called “Big” about the wish of a 12-year-old boy to become an adult. After being transformed into a 30-year-old man, Josh (played by actor Tom Hanks) travels to NYC to work for MacMillen Toy Company as a new toy tester. There is the banter between Josh and his best friend Paul in the movie that goes like this:
Josh: I’m much better at video hockey.
Paul: That’s not a sport.
Josh: It requires hand and eye coordination.
Paul: It’s not a sport if you don’t sweat.
During a recent conversation with a colleague, I was reminded of this scene. We spoke about a gala dinner he attended in a wealthy community in South Florida. Over 1,200 guests attended the banquet on behalf of a well-known Israel-based nonprofit. My friend was amazed at how much money was raised.
In my colleague’s words, “The founder told everyone that the nonprofit needed to raise $13 million.” The founder highlighted the excellent track record of the institution and then disclosed their plans for using the funds. A humorous quip he made to the audience was that “the organization has the money it needed, but it was in people’s pockets.”
There was a murmur of disbelief in the crowd, like electricity arcing through a live wire, and the evening progressed phenomenally. Following the master of ceremonies’ announcements, large video screens projected huge pledge announcements. By the end of the night, $13 million had been pledged. It was an astounding show of support for a worthy cause. My friend was in awe of how this breathtaking result could be achieved in one evening.
While I wasn’t privy to the planning, I can tell you it didn’t take place in one evening alone. Of course, this is not how the nonprofit wants the event to be portrayed. It appears more dramatic if it’s depicted as a sudden burst of generosity. However, it isn’t. The night’s incredible fundraiser likely unfolded as a scripted outcome due to well-planned actions and good luck.
As Paul says in the movie “Big,” “It’s not a sport if you don’t sweat.” I guarantee the evening’s success resulted from lots of sweat and diligent work. But it doesn’t end there. The planning for this year’s ball began on the evening of last year’s shindig with a passionate discussion among the leadership about which high-powered honorees would not only draw a large crowd but also one of considerable wealth. Yes, nonprofits must act like mercenaries to attract altruism of the highest order.
It takes many variables to make a gala bonanza. In this situation, the following factors were relevant:
I was privileged to attend the Siyum Hashas at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, on August 1, 2012. Among the speakers was the famed Rabbi Yissochar Frand, who spoke eloquently as only he can. A quote from him always stands out for me: “Just because something isn’t within your reach doesn’t mean it isn’t within your grasp.” This is a pearl of wisdom to keep in mind when planning your next fundraiser. Think big!
About the author: Norman B. Gildin is the author of the recently released book on nonprofit fundraising “Learn From My Experiences.” He is the President of Strategic Fundraising Group whose singular mission is to assist nonprofits raise critical funds for their organization. His website is at www.normangildin.com.
Norman Gildin Says, “It’s Not Fundraising if You Don’t Sweat!” was first posted at DEVELOPMENT SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL
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