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Live Auctions: Always Set Up Your Special Appeal As Unrestricted Funds

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Live Auction: Set Up Your Special Appeal as Unrestricted Funds

Hello, my Fabulous Fundraisers! Let’s talk about the biggest revenue generator at your event and a HUGE mistake I see people making with it.

The Special Appeal / Fund-A-Need / Paddle Raise is one portion of your fundraiser when you can raise a big ol’ chunk of change, but set it up poorly, and you can end up with it all locked in a special account, unavailable to actually help.

Let’s make sure that money is available to spend wherever you need it most.

Ok, let’s say there’s a SCHOOL that wants to remodel their POOL.

This is a huge investment and is going to take around $500,000 for the whole project.

It is going to be GLORIOUS...

Fast forward to the night of the big fundraising auction, and right now is time for the appeal.

The goal is to get the first of three Pool Phases funded.

That’s $150,000 to get Phase 1 underway.

But the appeal only brings in $80,000, just barely over halfway to the goal...

And so, the school isn’t able to break ground yet.

So what do they do?

They decide to wait until the next year to finish funding Phase 1.

But next year, no one wants to give money for the pool when there hasn’t been any progress made from their previous donations. For. The. Pool.

The project just turned out to be too ambitious, and now they’re having trouble paying all of their teachers’ salaries...

They are even starting to consider laying them off!!

With $80,000 sitting there that they can’t use where they NEED it... because that money was raised “for the pool,” and those donors have expectations that it would be USED “for the pool.”

So now the only way to reallocate that money is to call every donor who contributed and get them to ALL agree to move the money into a different project.

Who has time for that?


The moral of the story is, if this school had raised $80K as UNRESTRICTED FUNDS, they could have used it somewhere else when they needed it MOST.

In this case saving teachers’ jobs.

So I say: ALWAYS frame your Special Appeal / Fund-A-Need as UNRESTRICTED FUNDS.

Don’t paint yourself into a corner.

Your program participants will be SO happy you did.

For more information, watch this video exploring the question: Are Special Appeal Videos Are Worth It?

Now, let’s go raise some money!!

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