The $100 t-shirt, my new nemesis | npENGAGE

The $100 t-shirt, my new nemesis

By on Mar 16, 2011


Before you continue reading, my nemesis isn’t the t-shirt as an incentive for raising $100.  I think it’s a great prize and I wouldn’t suggest changing it.  I have a nice collection of t-shirts and wear them with pride.

But, here’s my question.   On average walk participants are raising more than $100, so why is it that most walk websites either message raise $100 or do not ask participants to raise any amount at all?  I spend a lot of time looking at walk websites and for an event usually referred to as “our signature fundraising event” why don’t we ask participants to actually raise money (I really dislike using the word money, but I felt it was appropriate to use here).

Why is it embedded in the walk program culture not to ask participants to raise funds? Walk programs, often include messaging telling walkers “no fee is required to participate, but only walkers raising $100 or more are eligible for a t-shirt.” I have to admit I use to message this statement with my events, but I think it’s time for change.

What do think about asking participants to raise $200 at the beginning of their event experience?  In the marketing world, it’s common to hear someone say you need seven touches for an individual to take action.  Let’s apply that same logic to our fundraising messaging and be consistent with the fundraising ask throughout the entire event experience.

Here are seven places you could message an actual ask amount:

1. On the event website

2. In the registration form as the default goal

3. In the registration confirmation screen

4. In the registration confirmation or welcome email

5. In the text on the personal fundraising webpage

6. In your email communications

7. In your welcome or follow phone calls (I LOVE welcome and follow up phone calls!  I know it’s tough to find time to make calls, but this is a great job for interns or volunteers and your participants will appreciate them)

These days’ average online gifts range from $60-$80 and the average gift from social networks is about $40.  I like to look at numbers in different ways to get a clear picture; the median and it just so happens that the mode gifts from facebook are the same at $25.  If you’re not looking at your median or mode gift, try it, it’s a good way to understand more about your donation amounts.  Thanks to email, facebook and twitter raising $200 is not as challenging for most as it used to be.  Are you ready to move past messaging the $100 t-shirt as a fundraising benchmark?

Walk participants are often referred to as dedicated volunteers who have a deep connection to the cause, so why do we let walkers off the fundraising hook so easily?  What do you think?




Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud, supports customers with their peer-to-peer fundraising events with a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.” Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Amy earned her fundraising stripes managing events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Share Our Strength. She shares her fundraising know how here on npENGAGE, by hosting educational webinars and speaking at customer conferences

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