3/11/14

Afr Column Features Galabid

Tech tricks to hit your fund-raising targets Jacquie Hayes

It's not just businesses under the pump trying to keep the bottom line healthy on ever-shrinking budgets. Œ_Fund-raising is under just as much pressure.

While the drivers, goals and fund-raising targets may differ enormously, those responsible for bringing in the moolah are constantly seeking better ways to attract funding and praying that it hits new highs.

Otherwise, there's nothing religious about fundraising. It's often stressful and exhausting work, especially if the economy and/or financial markets are flat and consumer sentiment is low.

It doesn't help either that there are so many other worthy causes out there competing for our philanthropic dollar.

Thankfully, there has been a raft of new initiatives that help take away the pain and deliver more gain to those who run these things, whether they're small and uncomplicated affairs, elaborate fun fairs or extravagant gala balls involving live or silent auctions.

However grand or simple the events end up looking, the run-up can be frantic as organisers tap their networks for prizes that will appeal to those with the big bucks äóñ holidays on private islands, multi-course meals for large groups at the restaurant du jour, elegant jewellery and aspirational experiences.

Even if the prize pool is outstanding, there are so many variables that can make or break things on the day. Perhaps the biggest variable at auction events is exactly who ends up being in the room when things are in play.

Technological advances and clever businesses tapping into those capabilities have reduced some of the risk.

Kate Kennedy, the CEO of not-for-profit organisation Hagar, says she's seen an enormous change in the use of technology in fund-raising since setting up the anti-slavery group's Melbourne office three years ago.

"Back then, we wouldn't have used an online reservation system like TriBooking, and now we wouldn't do an event without using them," Kennedy says.

She also likes Everyday Hero, an online platform that promotes, manages and supports fund-raising initiatives.

Her preferred model of engagement is one of advocacy to help people make informed decisions about whether they buy into what she does. But consistent funds still need to come in, and large fund-raising events need to be scheduled.

Having worked in the NFP sector, and more recently as part of the fund-raising committee at my children's school, I'm more than familiar with the moods that typically precede these events: moments of giddy anticipation punctuated by dread at the prospect of failure.

GETTING ON GALABID

Not any more. All those fears and concerns evaporated this year when I came across an online bidding platform, GalaBid, which took the hard work out of building and promoting our silent auction and added a whole new layer of fun for those participating in it.

The online nature of the system meant our potential audience extended to those outside the room on the day, which took the level of competition up a notch. Or three.

The fact that all those people were going to be able to see and bid on the auction lots a week out from the event meant everything was going to be under serious consideration and in play for longer than ever before, which meant the result was bound to be better than ever.

So we set our fund-raising target at an inflated level. Just to challenge ourselves really, without knowing how things were going to play out.

Not only did we hit our target before the event started, we ended the day 56 per cent ahead of what we'd netted the previous year.

We thought we did well. Others who've used the GalaBid system have done better.

In the weeks before our lunch, another Melbourne school äóñ having set itself a $90,000 target äóñ ended up with $160,000 in the bank. And just over a week ago in Sydney, the Sony Foundation broke all sorts of records with the $900,000 take from its Wharf4Ward event to raise funds for its youth cancer program.

GalaBid co-founder Deirdre Brannick says the success of the system lies in its ability to tap an audience larger than those in the room on the day.

And the fact those people are able to bid before the event "has been a huge, huge, huge thing in terms of ramping up the revenue".

She adds: "Last year .?.?. organisations that used the system were making 38 per cent of their revenue pre-event. The fact that you can get it out to a much wider audience is a big thing äóñ and it also generates quite a lot of fun."

Auction participants who get outbid receive a text message with a link prompting them back to bid on that item. At auction end, winners are notified by text and invited to pay online äóñ another bonus for organisers who don't want the headache of managing credit card slips, EFTPOS machines and the final reconciliation. GalaBid takes care of the lot.

Those who were there at our school event said they didn't find themselves or others overly focused on their phones.

If anything, they said the low-key nature of the system (coupled with the absence of a live auction) meant they were able to get on with the business of socialising äóñ which was why many of those time-poor mums were there in the first place.

There are different levels of cost for those using this system äóñ from $3500 for bigger organisations, down to smaller events that might give up a percentage of their overall takings in exchange for accepting prizes on consignment from GalaBid, such as week-long holidays in exotic locales.

Thailand sounds nice. So, now that my fund-raising commitments are done at the school, perhaps I'll take myself away. Then again, I hear they're looking for people to help raise money for a new children's hospital at Monash. Perhaps I can lend a hand.

http://www.afr.com/p/personal_finance/smart_money/tech_tricks_to_hit_your_fund_raising_FHiy9jnL1yXxDX96qnLqrM

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GalaBid is CrowdComms’ fundraising software, developed inhouse, which facilitates bidding, donations, purchases, payment for and management of all fundraising activities before and during live fundraising events, galas, golf days etc.

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