The Fund a Need aka Paddle Raise

FUND-A-NEED by April Brown

Auctions are defined by momentum and urgency and the only reason to disturb either is if another activity offers an opportunity to raise more money. That activity at a charity auction is the Paddleraise. The Paddleraise is sometimes referred to as the Fund-a-need, fund-a-dream, fund-a-wish, fund-a-scholarship, etc and is essential to gleaning every last dollar the audience came to give.

The Paddle Raise is a very simple request made during the live auction. The Auctioneer invites guests to raise their bid card as the auctioneer calls out increments of money. Those gifts are recorded by the bid recorder and then entered into the database or manually sorted and filed by bid number.

The paddle raise is a fully tax-deductible cash donation and will raise 10-30% of the auction goal from 15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes more money is raised during the paddle raise than both the live and silent auctions combined. It is the only time during the night that the audience is truly giving, rather than buying and it is important to lead the audience into that energy shift.  The paddle raise should be treated as one item of extremely high value. 

Marketing the message will help remove confusion and add clarity to the mission and need. We want to drive emotion and empathy with the story but not necessarily tears. 

1)Choose a need that has broad appeal and that most of the audience feels is critical to the success of the organization.

2)Use a 3-part sales plan stating

This is what we have.

This is what we need.

This is what we will have when that need is met.

3)Create a descriptive visual explanation of the need with the goals clearly stated. Breakout the actual costs for 10 computers at $10000, 10 desks at $5000, 10 printers at $2500, etc.

4)Rally support for the need and start fielding questions well in advance of auction night and provide a positive response to any objections or concerns. 

5)Begin marketing the need by creating a display for the lobby of the school or physical building of the organization.

6)Post a page on the organizations website with an option of purchasing any or part of the need.

7)Seek matching donors prior to auction night. A list is available on line by searching: “companies matching funds – Your City”. Make a slide of that list and leave it up during the actual asking of the amounts.

8)Begin searching for the vendor or vendors that the items will be purchased from and ask a sales rep from the company to help setup a tradeshow style display on auction night. Give at least one full length table with an 8foot backdrop for conveying the visual message. Use lighting, monitors and other visuals to sell guests on the need. Ask for samples and place oversized price tabs on each piece.

9)Place a standup card on the dining tables describing the need with the paddle raise goal and include the increments the auctioneer will ask for.

10)Create 2x3 posters using the same art andplace them around the venue at key spots, near the bar, near the entrance to the restrooms or even on the back of the restroom doors.

11)Create a 3-5 minute Power Point message set to music.

12)OR invite a speaker to read a rehearsed appeal. This person should have a favorable image with the audience and should not be someone that might provoke controversy and sometimes this person is not the Director or the Principal or President.

13)AS the auctioneer beings asking bidders to raise their bid cards have the sound engineer play an inspiration music selection. The music provokes an emotional response.

14) And last, someone from the organization should come up on the stage and thank the donors for their generosity.

The Fund-a-Need