Q: I put on my first Benevon Ask Event last year and it was a huge success! We had around 450 attend and raised close to $225,000! I am a firm believer in the model, so thank you!
I have new leadership in my organization and our event this year is two weeks away. Our leadership is not familiar with Benevon and has strongly suggested some changes to the event program.
Here are the changes being proposed.
- Our CEO is retiring and she wishes to do a joint "Visionary Leader" speech with her replacement, using two podiums.
- They have also proposed that we swap the placement of the video and do it AFTER the testimonial and right BEFORE the pitch.
- Finally, they are also suggesting we pre-write personal notes to any existing donors and multiple-year givers on their pledge cards that will ask them to consider an increase or extension. (Our pledge card is laid out exactly like the model suggests.)
I'm personally concerned about these changes; although minor, I feel as though the model is very specific and should be followed precisely.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Angie in Florida
A: Congratulations on the great success you had with the Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding in your first year! It sounds like all of your hard work getting people through Point of Entry Events really paid off with your first Ask Event. Hopefully you have spent the past year filling the pipeline with new people coming through your Point of Entry Events, giving you a newly cultivated pool of ripened fruit for this year's event. Without it, it will be virtually impossible to repeat your success from year one.
Your concerns with the program changes for year two are valid. We have field tested our Ask Event program with more than 4,000 teams we have trained and coached and have found that this format works best. Let me address your specific questions about the program.
A CEO retiring is a big deal, and definitely needs to be reflected in the program. If she is still employed by your organization at the time of the event, we would suggest that she do the Visionary Leader Talk. Be sure that in the vision for the future she talks about her greatest hope being that she leaves the organization set up for success in the years ahead and that her replacement is the perfect person to continue the legacy she is leaving behind. She should talk up the new person a little in her speech. Have her invite your guests to help make that future possible by supporting your work today. The new CEO could do the welcome in lieu of a board member or volunteer to introduce themselves and share why they are passionate about your mission and how eager they are to take the reins of an organization that makes such a tremendous difference.