Here are my questions of the day: Why remake Footloose? Did the 80’s hit warrant a remake? And was Footloose really about a town that banned dancing? I’ve seen Footloose before, but all I remember is Kenny Loggins’ song… You gotta cut loose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes. So, the other day I re-watched Footloose starring Kevin Bacon. I have to say I loved the 80’s music layered throughout the movie, but that was about it. And, yes it’s about a town that banned dancing. And, Kenny Loggins’ song makes so much more sense now.
Maybe back in 1984, a town banning dancing was believable. But, is it still believable today? I’ve heard that they’ve modernized the movie; however the trailers seem pretty similar to the original. Maybe by modern they mean the music – it seems to be a mix of pop and hip-hop.
If I were to make an early prediction, I’d add Footloose “the remake” to the list of movies that shouldn’t have made the cut. Included on this list are sequels without the original cast members: Mannequin 2, Grease 2, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Also included are movies starring pop queens: Glitter (Mariah), Crossroads (Britney), and most recently Burlesque (X-tina).
You’re probably thinking I’ve lost it, isn’t this supposed to be a fundraising blog? Just go with me here… the connection is coming.
What fundraising lessons that can be learned from Footloose? Here’s the first one, times have changed. And switching out 80’s hits might not be enough to “modernize” an unrealistic plot. Here’s my fundraising advice: If you’re fundraising plan hails from circa 1984 or 2006 then maybe it’s time to change it up. The way we communicate, interact, and frankly live our lives has changed because of this crazy little thing called “social media.” How many conversations have you had that begin with “Did you see what so and so posted on Facebook?” It’s time to face the facts, social media has completely taken over our lives and today we can all be stars… we’ll YouTube stars. Do you remember Antoine Dodson? 2010 summer’s internet sensation – If you don’t Wikipedia has you covered. How about the Rebecca Black’s song Friday, called by many the worst song of all time – had 167 million views and had more than 3.1 million “dislikes” from YouTube viewers.
Ok, back to fundraising. How can I change up my fundraising plan? Acknowledging you need to make a change is the first step. Next pull some reports and take a good look at the current state of your events.
1. What is your ratio of donors to participants? I like to see an average of 3 gifts per-participant. But here’s another way to look at your data. One word for you… Segment! Segmenting is your data is the best way to see if your new initiatives are working. Here’s an example.
a. Goal: increase the percentage of participants personalizing their webpage – current state: 18%. Chances are you’re not going to see a big global change in this stat. What?!? Sometimes when we look at overall averages we do not see an increase or if we do it’s not meeting our expectations. Instead of trying to make an overall increase, break out your participants into segments. I bet you’d see an increase if you looked at participants who raised: $250- $499, $500-$749, $750 or more. Reminder: When it comes to events without a fundraising minimum averages are always going to be pulled down because of volume – the more people you have the greater difficulty in getting everyone to take action.
2. Why did I just focus on personalizing the participant’s web pages, when talking about donor to participant ratio? Here’s my next tip for changing up your event plan. Try to focus on tasks that will result in actions instead of focusing dollar amounts. More often than not, if someone personalizes their web page, they’re then going to tell people about. Telling people about whether it’s via email, Facebook, Twitter or in-person will result in donations. This is the principal of Newton’s law – To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. When it comes to fundraising, let’s make sure the reaction is a donation.
3. It’s time to put your emails on a diet. Today, we live in information overload. I swear I’m developing Adult ADD because of my ability to access information anytime I want it – or maybe I’m multi-tasking. Whatever it is, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get someone’s attention and keep it. Focus your message to participants. If it’s an email about fundraising, simply include one tip that will lead to an action. It’s time to move on from emails that read “Here are your Top 5 Tips for the week.” Let’s be real, are your participants really going to do all 5 tips? Are they even going to read all 5 tips? Probably not.
If you’re gun shy and not ready to pull the trigger and cut down your emails. Try this – lead with one tip in the opening sentence. Be sure to tell your participants why this is important and how to achieve success. You’re tip should be something that leads to a donation. You can keep your Top 5 Tips of the week, just move them down in your email – and include a sentence “If you’re looking for more ideas, we’ve got you covered. Check out our Top 5 fundraising tips of the week.”
You could even do one better. Instead of including your Top 5 list in the email, put your list on your event website and simply link it to. This way you’re getting participants to your event site where they can log into their fundraising headquarters – another action that will result in donations.
Here’s the thing to remember, you can ask participants to raise money or you can give them tasks to do. But, when it’s all said and done you’re still relying on someone – a third party (the participant) – to help you reach your event goal. Events are unpredictable – we can’t control what someone does or gives, but we can do our best to provide them with ideas, tools, and inspiration to help them be successful.
I hope this was helpful. Want more? Sign up for Events Boot Camp! And yes, pop culture is completely relevant when it comes to fundraising. But, if you wanna just dance… here’s Kenny!