When I worked at Durham Rescue Mission we hosted a creative and successful major donor event called “My Night in a Box”.
Thirty-nine college students from Duke, UNC, and North Carolina Central joined us to sleep outside for a night to raise awareness for the Mission—and better understand the life of a homeless person.
How Is This a Major Donor Event?
You may ask—how does an event with 39 college students make a “creative and successful major donor event for my mission”?
Well, parents of Duke and UNC students tend to be fairly wealthy. And when their kids tell them they’re planning to sleep outside at the rescue mission—it grabs their attention. Now, I have a unique opportunity to engage that parent.
Not only were the parents engaged, but also the rest of the community.
We had media outlets from all over the Raleigh-Durham area join us.
And 10 community leaders came down to the mission and got on the air with our local radio station to talk about “My Night in a Box”.
This event was a huge success on multiple levels:
- It brought all participants into God’s larger redemptive story.
- The wide-spread exposure allowed me to cultivate my existing portfolio of major donors and acquire new major donors.
- The student’s personal experience engaged their parent’s and faith communities in the cause.
- The Durham County Manager and local News 11 President said they wanted to sleep outside in a box next time!
What Most Rescue Missions Do
Many missions have their events and volunteer programs set up with more of a “mob mentality” where the goal is to have as many people involved as possible.
(Some of you may have million-dollar donors dropping off clothing at your shelter—and you don’t even know who they are!)
In fundraising we have to change our thinking to “work smarter, not harder”.
By strategically engaging the right people (like the parents from “My Night in a Box”) and building relationships with them, you can create donors who consistently give big gifts and engage with the work your mission does.