By Molly Fast
A couple of years ago we (finally) introduced a fundraising rewards program on a long-time project which has a high fundraising minimum. It had been a long time coming. While it’s about encouraging participants to increase their fundraising performance, it’s also about recognizing participants who are truly going above and beyond in their fundraising efforts. I understand why it took us so long: when your fundraising minimum is already a really big ask, it feels out of place to make the majority of participants feel like they’re not doing enough by doing what’s required of them. But as most of us in peer-to-peer fundraising know, 80% of the results are (oftentimes) accomplished by 20% of the participant base. And it felt really important to recognize that.
When creating our fundraising reward program, we came up with two levels. The first level is based on the current year’s fundraising performance – something any participant is eligible for. We broke this out based on four different fundraising amounts and offered four different awards at these levels. And because this is a well-established event with participants who have been participating for several years (some as many years as the event has been around), we created a second level to recognize lifetime fundraising achievements. There are only two levels (currently) for this amazing accomplishment: $50,000 – $99,999 and $100,000+. To keep costs down, we give the $50,000 gift out on event. It’s something people wear, so others ask, “How can I get that?” And it’s a bit of bragging rights. The reward at the $100,000+ level is something we mail to them shortly after they qualify because it’s something that would be inconvenient for someone to have to travel home with.
I’ve seen a lot of fundraising reward programs over the years, but I haven’t seen something that recognizes participants’ lifetime fundraising contributions. (Disclaimer: I don’t doubt there are programs that are already doing this, I just haven’t seen any in the fundraising programs I’ve come across). So as you’re evaluating your fundraising rewards program, I’d encourage you to consider if recognizing lifetime fundraising is something that makes sense for your event.
I love the idea of having a way of acknowledging and recognizing the participants who, year after year, participate and far exceed the fundraising minimum. While “just” raising the minimum is cause for celebration in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with creating a platform to celebrate the accomplishments of a few who impact the many.
Molly Fast leads the company’s local operations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day series and is privileged to work with Event 360’s participant-facing team. For over a decade, Molly has been fortunate enough to combine her love of people with the ability to make a difference in the work she does focusing on exceeding expectations and delighting participants along the way. When not roaming around Ireland, Molly can be found taking photos or talking to strangers in Santa Monica where she lives with her husband and their black lab, Clancy. You can find Molly on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.