Q: We're in our third year of implementing the Benevon Model, with varied results regarding the fundraising dollars received in years one and two. Our Point of Entry virtual tour is done by one speaker (we tried doing it with different speakers reading letters, etc. to give different perspectives, but found the one person doing the virtual tour conveyed the emotional impact better than having different speakers). My questions are:
- It was suggested that interacting with the audience between virtual tour stops would help engage the audience as well as "break up" the speaking time by the tour guide. Is it OK to have dialogue between stops?
- I've read the book and did an evaluation of our Point of Entry (to get our Point of Entry Event to be sizzling and get the referral rate we're supposed to have). We have a slightly revised presentation but the referral rate is still low—is it possible that's the best we can do or is there more we can consider to improve our Point of Entry Event?
Reina in Hawaii
A: The degree to which your Point of Entry Event sizzles is a key factor in your ability to generate new Ambassadors. The true measure of success for a Point of Entry and the subsequent Five-Step Follow-Up Call is that you are able to recruit at least one new Ambassador out of the calls from each event. Let's look specifically at how to have the Point of Entry Event truly sizzle.
We would recommend reconsidering your approach to only have one speaker at a Point of Entry in a Box. It sounds as if you have already tried using letters and audio recordings, however there are ways to take those avenues for storytelling a little deeper. Perhaps you should consider asking one of your guests to read a letter that is written from a client's perspective. Prior to having them read the letter, ask them to hold up a photograph of the client or family that was helped while they read a short introduction explaining what the client was looking for when they came to your organization for help. To accompany the audio recording, you could show photographs and props that bring to life key elements of the story, like a keychain symbolizing the moment when the family got their keys and entered their new home for the first time, or a hand-drawn picture made by a child that shows their family in front of their new home.
Ideally, each Point of Entry in a Box has at least two speakers in attendance. If the person hosting the session has a personal experience with your organization, they can always tell their own story. At a minimum, the host should do the welcome and say why they are so inspired by your organization's work that they have invited these guests to attend the session. Then you might have two people from your organization in attendance—your Visionary Leader and Team Leader, or perhaps one of those people accompanied by a grateful client who can give a live testimonial.
The degree to which the audience is engaged in the program will also dictate how sizzling the Point of Entry will be. It's a great idea to have some experiential element to the Point of Entry. As an example, your organization might distribute small cards with a hand-drawn picture of a house and ask each guest to write down the three words that describe what their home means to them. Then have each person share their three words as they go around and introduce themselves at the beginning of the event.
Prior to starting each tour stop, you should use an "imagine" statement to preface the story you'll be sharing. For example, before sharing a story about someone you've helped to achieve homeownership through financial counseling, you might ask the audience to "imagine a family of four with children ages five and eight, living in a small two-bedroom apartment. One child is trying to do their homework while dinner is being prepared, and the younger child is playing noisily in the living room. Where do you play when the streets outside are dangerous due to the car traffic and neighborhood crime? These were the questions that the Smith family was asking themselves when they came to our first Homeowner Education Class" (and then proceed to tell the rest of the story). This is a great way to transition from one tour stop to the next without adding too much information, which can leave guests overwhelmed with facts and without having experienced a sufficient emotional connection.
For further guidance, you may also want to check out our book, The Benevon Model For Sustainable Funding, a Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, which goes into more detail on how to do a great Point of Entry and Point of Entry in a Box.