It’s official… I’m an incentives convert

We’ve all probably heard that saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” well this semi-old dog received a refresher course in why incentives matter.

I’ve been so focused on reminding organizations that your participants are signing up because of the cause that I forgot all about incentives – as motivators.  I need to thank my friend Jen Cobb at the Arthritis Foundation for reminding me of the role incentives play in events.  I still believe that an individual signs up because they care, but caring and incentives can work together to increase participation and revenue.  See you can teach a semi-old and maybe a little stubborn dog new tricks.

Often incentives are simply listed as a link on an event website or included in fundraising guides, but it’s time to do more with incentives.

Here’s what I learned from Jen:

1.       Incentives are not just an item you receive because of your fundraising efforts.  They have a greater purpose.  It’s more about the thank you and acknowledgment of an individual’s hard work than the actual prize.

2.       Yes, of course ask participants if they’d like to forgo their prize – we all can use a little savings in our budgets.  Be sure to send a thank you note when these folks reach their fundraising goals.

3.       If your participants are not setting goals use incentives to set goals and drive fundraising.

This is one of my favorites.  So let’s explore this topic.  Most individuals who participate in events without a fundraising minimum don’t set a goal… usually only top fundraisers set goals.  What do I mean by setting goals for participants?  You can insert a goal amount in the registration form, but is that going to drive individuals to take action?  It should impact donor behavior, but you still need to get the participant to do something to get the donor to their personal page.  How about setting up an automatic email campaign and use incentives to move participants from one fundraising level to the next?

I’m a big fan of trying to get those mid-tier fundraisers to kick it up a notch. I think you have a better chance of getting someone who has raised something to raise more than someone who has done nothing.  This is where incentives come into play.  Create email segments based on participant’s fundraising activity.  For example: send an email to those who have raised more than $100, but less than $200. Let them know they’ve almost earned prize X.

Whether we admit it or not, we all want to achieve success.  We’re always striving to get to the next level.  It’s a part of human nature.  So use this innate part of our make-up to increase your fundraising performance. (Want to know more about creating email campaigns that lead to actions?  Save the date for Events Boot Camp –Nov. 7th – 15th. We have a whole session dedicated to email campaigns.  What is Events Boot Camp? It’s a two-week series dedicated to Peer-to-Peer fundraising to help you increase your fundraising muscle… stay tuned for more details).

4.       My other favorite tip from Jen.  Don’t look down on your participants for taking an incentive.  Jen reminded us that many team captains use the incentive prizes they’ve earned to support next year’s fundraising efforts.  Incentives prizes = raffle items.  I love this tip! Share it with your participants. Top fundraisers are always looking for raffle items and team captains are often looking for something to use to motivate team members to raise funds.

Tell me about your incentive program?  Are you being creative with incentives?