Q: We received a $10,000 gift from a donor to be used in one of our three major program areas. They gave us the donation to specifically challenge people to match their gift at our upcoming Ask Event, with the money going towards the same program. What is the best way to announce this at our Ask Event?
Mari in Oregon
A: While this generous gift will go a long way towards helping your organization in this one program area, it will create challenges if you announce it at the Ask Event. All of the money raised at the Ask Event and in the Multiple-Year Giving Society is unrestricted. Everything your guests have heard in the Ask Event program (and in the Point of Entry Events they attended prior to coming to the Ask Event) is designed to showcase the overall impact of your work on your clients and community.
The pledge card at the Ask Event gives options for levels of giving and ways to give, but these gifts will not be designated for specific programs. Your Pitch Person will announce clearly that all money raised will support all of your programs. This allows your organization to put your resources wherever they are most needed at any given time. Especially with people making multi-year pledges, you don't want that money to be locked in for a particular program. Rather, you want to use it wherever you need it most.
You still have a very committed donor who likely wants to make the biggest difference they can with their donation! We would suggest going back to the donor and sharing some background on why you are asking for unrestricted gifts at the event. Share the challenges you face currently and how unrestricted dollars would make a difference in several areas, including the one they are most passionate about. See if they might still be comfortable with including their gift as an inspirational Leadership Gift (or even a Challenge Gift) at the Ask Event to support all the needs of your organization.
If they don't want to do that, I would consider looking at another way to meet this match outside of the Ask Event. Perhaps you could do a smaller campaign offline from your Ask Event to ask other donors who love that one program to help you meet this match.