Five Old School Public Relations Tricks that Still Work in the Modern World

So much of the talk these days is about digital marketing, using the web to make connections and grow your business.

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But, marketers must realize, whether it’s growing their business or running any kind of a campaign, that the web is only a tool. A good one, indeed, but only a tool. It’s still really just about people, about making connections that matter, about building trust and strong working relationships.

In the native digital age as Millennials take the helm at leadership positions in businesses and organizations across our state and nation, we encourage each of you to re-visit the basics and add some tried and true “old school” outreach methods to your digital plans. You won’t be sorry. Diversification, integration and follow up make all the difference in the world!

With more than 16 years of running campaigns in Idaho and developing deep, solid relationships with journalists, in this article, our President, China Veldhouse Gum, shares some of her tricks of the trade for getting your business or organizational message out to your best prospects.

Here’s China’s tips for mixing it up and getting noticed:

  1. Direct Mail and Print Advertising

Do you know about digital printing? Even with the proliferation of digital marketing, digital printing is an specialty area where your local print shop can be of great value to you. Digital printing can be done right at the printer’s location and is highly cost effective. It involves taking an Excel spreadsheet of your address mailing list (or a targeted list you purchase) and integrating it with a digital printer to print out custom pieces that you can bulk mail. For some businesses this is ideal.

It’s about being “high touch” rather than “high tech.” In the digital age, not as many companies and organizations send high-quality messages through the mail anymore. You can stand out this way. Custom, full-color envelopes, as well as striking postcards will also get you noticed.

Likewise, running an ad in a targeted print publication often makes sense. Some of our favorites include the newsletters for the major statewide trade associations and the business journals in your area, or even the chamber in your area. This type of advertising is highly effective when launching new offices, locations, products or programs. To get the most value, make sure to ask whether the print publication offers a combo digital/ print package.

  1. Television Advertising

Many business professionals have the erroneous notion that television advertising is mega expensive. This is not always the case, especially when you’re looking to use cable TV. There are so many cable TV shows these days; it seems there is one for every little niche – from cooking, to house flipping, to real estate, to business news. You name it. You have so many choices and the viewership of these cable TV shows is highly targeted. In fact, there are an estimated 27,831 different TV channels in the world.

You also want to check out the business and entrepreneurial interview shows that your local broadcast news outlet produces. These are often easy to arrange an interview and you can often feature a short video clip and refer viewers to a special offer or your website. Call us for more information on how TV advertising can work for you.

One last note: When you need to get a message out fast, in a crisis management situation for example, television advertising is often your best marketing vehicle to reach a very large audience.

  1. Radio Advertising

The same principles for TV advertising work for radio, too. Do some research as to the specific shows that radio stations in your area broadcast. Once you contact the station and interest them in your materials, you can even do the interview in your pajamas on the phone. There’s also internet radio shows and podcasts where you can be a guest. Radio is great for generating awareness in a hyper-local area, whether it’s a neighborhood or a small town.

We have many contacts in TV and radio that we can contact on your behalf.

  1. Phone Calls

Especially these days when almost everything is on smartphones, making a real media outreach call about a topic that matters can be highly effective, especially when you’re wanting to reach editors, reporters, bloggers, and content and PR managers. Before you call, know what you want to say and keep it short and conversational. Don’t just talk. Ask questions and listen. Be ready to offer to send a PDF summary and/or your PR materials as an immediate follow up (or have the information posted on a page on your website that’s not in your navigation and email people a link to that special “secret” page.)

Phones calls are the primary way to really keep a business relationship moving forward. Remember, you want to become a source of awesome, worthwhile news and information, and to be known as an expert in your field or industry that they can call upon for quotes for articles they are writing or videos they’re producing.

One caution though: Only contact editors by phone when you have something of real news value to share. Save phone calls for rare news tips and for giving media contacts a heads up on your major releases, special events and press conferences. Consider: How can I give this person the best scoop of his/her day?

You’ll want to develop and cultivate a targeted PR database for your company or organization. For example, we have strong connections with Idaho reporters at all of the major news outlets across the state, including KTVB.com, the Idaho Statesman, the Idaho Post Register, the Lewiston Tribune, the Coeur d’Alene Press, many journalists in Boise, and others. For example, a call to Marty Trillhaus, Nate Shelman, Chuck Malloy, Cynthia Sewell, Nate Brown can really set the ball rolling! We make use of our connections in smart ways, always showing respect for others’ time, schedule and expertise.

  1. Networking and Word of Mouth

Last but not least, remember to be seen. Make time at least once a month to review the events that are happening in the next 30 days and make plans to attend. Enter them into your calendar. If you are launching a new product or getting into a new target market, find out when associations are having their next meeting and go. For example, if you’re offering any type of service to contractors, your local and state home builders association is a great place to make contacts.

Find an electronic way to follow up on the contacts you make when networking. And remember, whatever goes around comes around. Be reciprocal. Offer to introduce someone you meet to someone you already know. If you meet someone for lunch or coffee as a follow up, specifically ask him/her which type of contacts would be most beneficial to grow their business or organization.

We have experience with local news reporters, production of collateral, access to public officials, connections to multiple award-winning ad agencies, TV and radio ad creation and placement, investigative journalism skills, communications strategy, strategic mail creation, public advocacy campaigns, lobbying, marketing, government relations, public relations, and crisis management consulting.

So, give us a call. Rise above all of the internet chatter and self-promoting tweets to get your message heard in an old fashioned – yet thoroughly modern – manner.

(Stay tuned for our top ways to move the needle in your direction with all our NEW media options.)

Our 10 Favorite Political TV Ads of All Time

Our 10 Favorite Political Campaign TV Ads of All Time

Effective political TV ads are often game changers. They evoke strong emotions and prompt desired action, specifically a vote for the candidate who runs the ad. Here, we have selected as our 10 best political TV ads of all time spots that delivered powerful images in a brief snippet of time. In most cases, each of these icons of political advertisements changed the course of a political campaign and sealed the opponent’s fate.

With so many hot races on the ballot this Fall, we decided to pull together a little walk down memory lane for you.

  1. “Daisy” (Lyndon Johnson–1964)

A young girl admires a daisy and picks its petals. A voice conducts a countdown. Near the end of it, the girl looks up and a mushroom cloud created by a nuclear explosion appears. The voice of President Lyndon Baines Johnson concludes with a warning that people must live together or die.

This political ad from Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign doesn’t mention his general election opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater by name. However, it implies that a Goldwater presidency could lead to a war-generated nuclear holocaust. It was revolutionary in that it treated a candidate for president as dangerous. It only ran once as an advertisement, but the networks replayed it in their newscasts.

Johnson defeated Goldwater handily.

  1. “Morning in America” (Ronald Reagan–1984)

The iconic words “It’s morning in America” precedes a declaration that “Today, more Americans will go to work than ever before in our history…” What follows are scenes of a person with a briefcase headed for; children and others raising the American flag, and a wedding.

President Reagan carried 49 of 50 states in his 1984 reelection bid. His opponent, Walter Mondale captured only his home state of Minnesota. Mondale had been President Jimmy Carter’s vice-president from 1976 to 1980 and the “Morning in America” advertisement reminded votes of the stark contrast between the troubles in 1980 and the substantial progress made in President’s Reagan’s first term.

  1. Willie Horton (George H.W. Bush–1988)

Our list of the best TV ads in politics feature two from the 1988 campaign between George H.W. Bush and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

In this advertisement, the Bush campaign displays the photograph of Willie Horton. While Horton is not mentioned by name, his act of murder while on a weekend furlough program from prison is chronicled. Horton had been serving life without parole already for first degree murder.

That campaign commercial then reminds voters that Dukakis, who was governor during the program and a supporter of it, wanted to do for America what he did for Massachusetts. Bush “41” would win election handily, partly on the strength of that advertisement.

  1. “Squeal” (Joni Ernst–2014)

With the right advertisement, a relative unknown can achieve a national spotlight and office. Such happened for Joni Ernst when, in November 2014, she won election as a U.S. Senator from Iowa.

Prior to the 2014 election, Ernst had served a rural area of Iowa in the state senate. To catapult her into the national scene, the “Squeal” political ad featured Ernst recounting her time on the farm. She bluntly states that she “castrated” pigs, using this as a metaphor for cutting pork barrel spending and waste in the federal government. She stated that she would make big-spending forces in Washington, D.C. “squeal.”

This ad, costing $9,000 to pay for use of the farm where it was filmed, helped Ernst capture win the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Tom Harkin.

  1. “Windsurfer” (George W. Bush–2004)

Showing inconsistencies in an opponent’s position is a staple of politics. George W. Bush employed this tactic against Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

The issue in question involved the Iraq War. President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and oust the Saddam Hussein regime placed foreign affairs front and center in the 2004 race. Senator Kerry sought to use the anti-war sentiment among some in the country against President Bush.

The Bush campaign displayed Senator Kerry windsurfing, part of which included changing directions. This symbolized Senator Kerry’s flipping on the Iraq War, being for it and then being against it. In addition to highlighting inconsistencies, the windsurfing reinforced the perception that Senator Kerry was an elitist from the Northeast and was out of touch with Americans in general.

  1. “Tank Ride” (George H.W. Bush–1988)

Along with the Willie Horton ad, “Tank Ride” helped the 1988 Bush Campaign portray Governor Dukakis as a weak and soft leader.

The genius for this ad comes from contrasting the image the opponent wants to portray — in this case strength as a military commander — with his record of opposing the equipping and the work of the military.

Here, Dukakis is seen perched on a tank and donning a helmet with his name. As Dukakis rides on the tank, a list of weapons programs that Dukakis opposes appears. These include the Pershing II and other missiles, Stealth Bomber, aircraft carriers and missile defense systems.

  1. The “3A.M.” Call (Hillary Clinton–2008)

In a slightly less dramatic way than the “Daisy” ad, Hillary Clinton attempted to impress upon primary voters the gravity of their choice for president.

This campaign spot portrays a young girl and then other children sleeping. Around this time, which the narrator says is 3 A.M., a phone rings at the White House. A phone call at that time normally means some serious incident, often international, has happened. The narrator asks the voter for his or her preference for who should take that call, i.e., who should be President.

The would-be 44th President’s name, Barack Obama, is not mentioned in this ad. However, the message of that ad is to chose Clinton over him because she has the familiarity with international issues and leaders that her primary opponent lacks.

  1. “The McGovern Defense” (Richard Nixon–1972)

In 1972, Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign employed toys as props to attack George McGovern’s national defense priorities. With the sound of military drums, a portion of the toy soldiers, war planes and warships are removed. The narrator highlights what McGovern plans to cut in personnel and equipment, making the argument that McGovern’s defense plan would weaken America’s national security.

  1. “Bloodhounds” (Mitch McConnell–1984)

The current Senate Majority Leader used dogs in his 1984 run for the U.S. Senate. The dogs aided in the “search” for the “missing” U.S. Senator Dee Huddleston. Here, the strategy consists of using satire to highlight Senator Huddleston’s absence from his work to earn speaking fees in scenic resort areas. By telling voters about missed votes, McConnell erased a 40-point deficit in the polls to claim the seat.

  1. “Wolves” (George W. Bush–2004)

A wolf symbolizes something that seeks to devour and destroy. These animals formed the centerpiece of a 2004 Bush/Cheney ad that attacked Senator Kerry and liberals for voting for $6 billion cuts in intelligence in 1994, the year that followed the first bombing on the World Trade Center.

The spot argued that such actions placed a post-9/11 America in serious jeopardy of the wolf of terrorism and that Kerry would follow that course if elected. The wolves represent the greater collection of threats to that security, playing a similar role to the bear in Ronald Reagan’s 1984 advertisement that was the allegory for the threat of the Soviet Union.

Bonus TV Ads

Some of our favorites didn’t make the final list. But, here are a few of them for all you political junkies….

Created by friends of IBPA at Red Print Strategies, these add some humor to the attack. I think we can all figure out how we would like to tweak this TV ad to portray an opponent, right?

  1. Poser 
  2. Spotlight 

Aaaaaaand There’s no way we are leaving these without mention.

  1. Swift Boat Veterans For Truth 
  2. Gerald Daugherty for County Commissioner 

What can IBPA do for you?

Our advocacy services concentrate on polling, digital marketing, mail, TV, radio ads and tele-townhalls. As with many of these advertisements we have highlighted here, we can incorporate statements, video, images and actions of your opponents to use against them. We’re also cognizant that, as shown in the “Morning in America” ad, politics should have a positive side. Our staff will work with you to present your positive vision and how you’ll accomplish it.

Welcome, Greg!

GregWischerprofile

Greg Wischer, International Business Major, Boise State University

 

We welcome Gregory Wischer to our team!

We are pleased to announce the addition of Greg Wischer to our team! Greg is an Honors student at Boise State University where he majors in International Business with a Minor in Spanish. Greg is a leader on campus and off. He brings a strong work ethic, experience in both political campaign work as well as supply logistics at a Fortune 500 company. Greg is a former Captain of the Boise State Tennis Team, President of the Honors College, and President of his fraternity. His attention to detail, positive attitude, and excitement to experience new challenges make him a very welcome addition to our team. Welcome aboard, Greg! #boise #idaho #internationalbusiness #idpol

 

When your heart aligns with your work, what’s next comes naturally.

“Use your powers for good”, my dear friend tells me, the world renowned speaker and author, Nancy Boskor.  Nancy, also known as a “democracy coach”, travels the world to teach women to be empowered to step up as a leader in their community (and even run for office if it suits them).  She teaches women to embody what she has trademarked ‘Passion Driven Leadership’.

Our interpretation of her guidance on this is simply aligning your heart with your work.

Make the leap- finally dedicate some effort to solving problems on the issues you care deeply about. Partner with us and use our experience to make change through building an emotional bond with the community while dedicating efforts to solving important issues.

IBPA exists solely for the purpose of helping others achieve their dreams- whether it’s kicking off a new business, or a dream of increasing access to K-12 STEM resources, maybe it’s running for office, raising awareness of an important policy issue, or changing a law– we can help you achieve your goal.

“Our passion is to utilize our network, our resources, our contacts, to help you solve a problem you care deeply about.” China Gum, President, IBPA

As Nancy says, “You need to move people from concern to passion to action.”  Well, that’s exactly what we do here at IBPA. Nobody will work harder than us to help you achieve your goal.

So, how can we help you today?

 

Whether Victory or Defeat– Unity!

“Even though this is late in an election year, there is no way we can go forward except together and no way anybody can win except by serving the people’s urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.”

-Gerald R. Ford

2018 was an historic Primary Election in Idaho. Millions of dollars were spent by candidates self-promoting and attacking their opponents. Accusations were made, some debunked by the press, some stuck to their victim and affected the race.  Special interest groups, PACs, and Unions got involved in the Republican Primary contests to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A winner was crowned. When the dust began to settle, the Idaho GOP held a rally on the steps of the Statehouse. Were you there or did you watch it online? Maybe neither one.

What you missed were the candidates– who just hours before were launching vicious attacks, or defending themselves from those attacks; now standing in support behind the victor in unity. The winners of each race took a moment at the microphone to set the stage for what’s ahead: a well funded, all out assault from the progressive Democrat party, unions, special interest groups, PACs, and the far-left liberal candidates themselves.

The Idaho Democrats finally fielded candidates different than the multi-millionaire self funders they’ve run in previous elections. This newly elected slate of progressive candidates have brought new energy into the Democrat party in Idaho. Their voter turnout was tens of thousands of voters higher than expected, many counties ran out of Democratic Party ballots early and voters had to wait for more ballots to be printed and delivered to the precincts. The fact is, Democrats are fired up. They are hoping for a “blue wave” in November.

No matter how heated the GOP races were, it’s important that the Idaho GOP voters unify behind the slate of winners and work hard to support their election. This election year, even more than previous years, there is a stark difference between the slates of candidates nominated by the Republicans and Democrats. The road to November 2018 will allow voters to learn both sides of each issue as they will be participating in an ideological battle between Progressive Liberals and Republicans.

Ultimately, Idaho voters will decide which end of the political spectrum they want our state to move forward as: Progressive Democrat or Republican? The choices have never been more distinct. On the ballot will be even more issues that will drive turnout: the opportunity to have the first female Governor, expand Medicaid, and the first female Lieutenant Governor will be elected. Very few voters will sit this one out.

Information about how to register and where to vote can be found at Idahovotes.gov.

Make the Most of Your Next Fundraising Auction

Idaho Nonprofit Fundraising Auction Tips

With all of the chaos that surrounds the final days leading up to a fundraising event, it’s really easy to let the auction portion slide by without much fanfare. After all, you’re busy finalizing delivery times with caterers, training volunteers, scheduling rehearsals, etc.

But by giving an auction the same attention to detail that you do the rest of the event, there is the possibility of significantly increasing your fundraising numbers. Here are a few ideas you might not thought of before that will help you make the most of the auction portion of any fundraising event:

For Silent AND Live Auctions

Set up an express checkout: There’s nothing more annoying than having to stand in yet another line at the end of an event to pay for the items you’ve won. Eliminate the hassle by inviting guests to give credit card information at the beginning of the event during registration with the understanding that the card will be charged later for any auction items purchased. You can also let this function for purchasing raffle tickets, drinks or other items at the event, depending on your setup and what works for you. In some instances (like with the raffle tickets and drinks), you’ll more time than not notice an increase in sales by taking this route.

Be sure to email everyone receipts within 24 hours.

For Silent Auctions

Prepopulate the bid sheets: Take the guesswork out of the process for your attendees by prepopulating the bid sheets appropriately. For smaller items, this might be increments of $10 or $20 with increments of $100, $250 or even $500 for big ticket items. Not only is this easier for participants (they just have to write their name), but it can help encourage someone who might have bid $25 more than the last bid to pledge $50 instead, and so on and so on …

Round up winning bids: People are at your event because they believe in and want to contribute to your cause. Invite them to have a bigger impact by rounding up their winning bids to the next highest $50 or $100 increment. I don’t mean having volunteers broaching the subject as they pick up their items. Rather, have the keynote or MC mention the option onstage as they’re wrapping up the event: “We’re so close to reaching our fundraising goals tonight and I want to thank you all for making this possible. If you’re the winning bidder on an auction item and would like to round up your bid to the next $50 or $100, just let _________________ know as you’re picking up your items. Every little bit helps and if we all band together, I know that we can have a huge impact in continuing to …”

Make the most of every item: While we’re always grateful for every item donated to our fundraising auctions, let’s be honest: Some of the items are far less exciting than others. If there are some items that fall into this category, make the most of them by including them in a bucket raffle. Simply put buckets in front of those items and allow guests to purchase raffle tickets to drop into whichever buckets they want to be entered into the drawing for that item.

For Live Auctions

Hire a professional auctioneer: I know what you’re thinking. “That’s another expense that we can’t afford.” But that’s completely backwards logic. Professional auctioneers are paid for a reason. Their entire business in built on finding the right way to present items and engage participants to get the highest dollar amount possible from every item.

When looking for an auctioneer, compare at least 2-3 of them. Ask whether they would accept a flat fee or a percentage (either is considered acceptable) and for video of them at work. Then when you’ve decided on who to use, make sure that he/she is given ample information about your organization, its mission and the specific items they will be responsible for auctioning.

Heartfelt ask: At some point, you’ll probably have a speaker tasked with making a heartfelt ask for support from the crowd. This is a great opportunity to put those bidders’ paddles to work. One way to structure the ask would be to ask them to raise their paddles if they’d like to make a $100 gift. This method has two things going for it: 1) It’s convenient (bonus points if you’ve also set up the express checkout) and 2) The bandwagon effect is a powerful thing.

Make sure to have staff or volunteers ready with clipboards to write down the numbers of everyone raising their paddle.

 

What other methods have you had success with in a fundraising auction scenario?

Why Social Media is an Integral Part of Your Fundraising Strategy

In my experience, most development folks intuitively know that they should be using social media to achieve their fundraising goals. Yet it can be difficult to explain to our administrators why exactly we want to pursue that avenue.

Whether you’re still skeptical of the impact of social media or you need help making the case to the rest of your organization, here are some quick thoughts on why exactly social media is so important to fundraising for nonprofits.

Prospect and donor engagement is critical to not only securing an initial gift, but to ensure that your nonprofit builds lasting relationships. Relationships are the crux of social networks, making it an essential tool for this endeavor.

First, social media, when undertaken correctly, allows donors and prospects to get to know your organization. Through the content you post, you can communicate your organization’s mission on a much larger scale than mail, phone calls or one-on-one visits alone. As a side note, creating this content isn’t difficult at all. Look at the materials you’ve already created for other projects and figure out how to repurpose it for quality social media content.

Once someone has connected with your organization on social media, it’s easy to redirect them to your website to make a contribution. In 2014, nonprofits raised an average of 60 cents for every website visitor. Another side note: Donations increase in both size and number when custom landing pages are used.

Then, after they’ve invested in the organization, you can use social media to demonstrate the impact of their gift. Maybe it is photos of kids using the school supplies they helped purchase, a quick video of the facility they helped build or a note of gratitude from one of the people your nonprofit impacts through your work. Social media gives you the flexibility to communicate in a variety of ways that snail mail does not and it can never be “marked as read” or end up in a spam folder.

Furthermore, social media empowers your donor by making sharing the cause with their networks as simple as clicking a button. This will not only lead to more interest from those people in their networks, but it is also a way in which that donor becomes publicly invested in your organization and its mission.

And while online giving still accounts for less than 10% of all nonprofit fundraising, expect that number to grow as a younger generation becomes more involved in charitable giving. Cultivating young donors on their terms is crucial for long term fundraising. Organizations that ignore their wants and needs do so at their own peril.

A final note: One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits (and businesses) make when they start using social media is that they use it to merely blast out their messages. But social networking is not meant to work as one-way communication mediums like TV or radio do. Engage with you followers. Answer their questions. Ask them for some questions. Invite them to submit their stories or reasons for supporting your organization. Whatever you do, do not treat social media as a podium.

What’s All the Fuss in #IDPol: Primary election vs. nomination—Denney and Woodings

Back in 2011, the state Republican Party successfully sued for the right to close their primary elections. Over the past few days, much has been discussed about the candidates’ for Secretary of State in Idaho and their opposing views about the closed primary in the state.

For the average citizen who doesn’t necessarily follow the ins and outs of political happenings in off-election years, this might seem like a confusing debate. And so, we’ve outlined the two different schools of thought here. On one side of the coin, some think that primaries should be open (that everyone should get a say in who ultimately runs for elected office) while others think only those affiliated with a party should have a say in who is their ultimate nominee for political office.

To be clear, we are not taking a stance as to whether or not the primaries should be limited to their respective parties. Rather, we’re looking to get everyone up to speed so that they can come to their own conclusions.

Basic Definintions:

Closed Primary: Excludes unaffiliated voters. Leaves registered members of respective parties to choose candidates for elected office.

Open Primary: Any registered voter may vote in either party’s primary regardless of party affiliation.

View 1—Nomination, not an election (Closed primaries; Candidate Lawerence Denney)

Closed primaries, limiting primary elections or nominations to registered party members, enhances a party’s presence and cohesion within a state. Furthermore, it ensures that members of an individual party are deciding that party’s nominee for a general election.

Because the vote is deciding a nominee rather than the ultimate holder of a given office, citizens are not disenfranchised by being disallowed from voting in certain contests based on party affiliation or lack of affiliation. Rather than an “election,” the exercise is a nomination of candidates by political parties. Advocates of closed primaries hold that keeping the participants of the nomination process limited to respective parties leads to stronger candidates in the general election. Some argue that closed primaries prevent members of a given party from voting in an opposing primary to elect a weaker candidate for the general.

View 2—Election, not a nomination (Open primaries; Candidate Holli Woodings)

Open primaries, allowing any registered voter to cast a ballot for a candidate in any party’s primary, gives citizens a large amount of flexibility and a chance to further exercise their rights to elect officials. For example, if we still had an open primary system, someone identifying as a Democrat or an unaffiliated voter in the state of Idaho could choose to vote in the Republican primary. This is unusually pertinent in states like ours where the majority of voters do not identify with either party and there are often unopposed primaries, especially for the Democratic ticket.

What do you think? Should we have open or closed primaries?

 

Fundraising Events: Increasing your profit margin while avoiding the “rubber chicken dinner”

It’s not a myth. It happened. Back in 2003, President Bush held a re-election campaign fundraiser priced at $2,000 per ticket and served his guests hot dogs, hamburgers, and nachos. This was a break from the guests expected “rubber chicken dinner” that fundraising consultants usually order up for attendees.

Rumor has it that President Bush made the cheap dinner a part of his keynote sales pitch, stating that donors can feel confident that every penny would be used towards re-election, not high-priced what-nots for lobbyists and the wealthy.

I heard this story 10 years ago, when I took a fundraising work shop from the world renowned Nancy Bocskor. The story illustrates that we must keep in mind the profit margin on fundraising events. In the non-profit world, we usually do not have the time and human resources to support the inefficient “friend-raiser” and must use our man-power for effective fundraising to maximize donations.

Here’s the deal, donors have an expectation that they will be served something to eat so, be clear on the invitation. However, donors don’t want to eat another rubber chicken dinner… and I don’t want to serve another rubber chicken dinner. So, here’s a few alternative solutions with high profit margins, especially for large groups, that will make your guests happy, and ensure that their donation to your non-profit is a great investment for the organizations future: as mentioned above, hotdogs! Build your own ice cream sundaes, sandwiches and potato chips; It’s Idaho—have a potato bar! When in doubt, scrap the dinner for a cheaper alternative—breakfast, brunch or a reception instead of a plated dinner.

Be creative, make it fun, and work it into the headliner’s speech. They will appreciate the attention to frugality, as it is their wallets and purses that fund our adventures.