Fundraising Masterclass: Conviction in the Mission
July 17, 2018
Vice President, White Oak Global Advisors
Captain, White Oak Warriors
Your team has raised over $55,000 for D10 competitions in San Francisco and New York City. What’s your secret?
I’m a beneficiary of the firm I work for. White Oak is a private credit fund. We work with a lot of law firms. We work with a lot of accounting firms. We work with a boatload of consulting firms. In addition to our San Francisco headquarters, we have a large New York office and satellite offices sprinkled across the country.
I rely on my colleagues to put me in touch with potential donor firms, and I go to work. It always starts off with a phone conversation. I explain that I’m part of a team that competes in a national athletic competition, that all the money I’m raising goes to pediatric cancer research, and that I can feature the logo of participating firms on a T-shirt that thousands of people will see.
That combination of things usually gets people pretty excited.
I immediately follow that up with an email that includes a seven-to-eight page marketing deck. It describes what The D10 is, who the people on the team are…Now that we’ve got a couple D10s under our belts, we’ve got some stats to talk about, and people are into that.
What’s also crucial is the slide dedicated to how the money gets spent, and how it impacts the patients and treatment and research at the beneficiary institutions.
And then you make the ask. Nowadays, so many of these companies and firms have charitable giving programs and matching programs, and the way I approach D10 fundraising really caters to that. I’m going after BIG checks.
Your t-shirts have become a real calling card for the White Oak Warriors.
The t-shirts are a part of fraternity culture. I was not a collegiate athlete, but I was in a fraternity that had a strong philanthropy focus along with a bunch of other gym rats. We had t-shirts for everything.
It gets attention, and it’s a great way to boost morale. Give fans some swag, you know? You can build a fanbase, you can achieve support for your team when you give people something. If you don’t like t-shirts, you could do hats.
Thanks to my sister-in-law, we have a great team logo that combines White Oak’s logo with the Golden State Warriors’ logo. People at White Oak don't wear t-shirts - we aren’t a tech firm - but when the 2018 shirts come in, we’re planning to do a White Oak Warriors Spirit Day at the office. We do a different color scheme each year to keep things fresh, and it’s become a real thing among our sponsors to see the latest design, and see the placement of their logo. The shirt is an incentive for big donations and a reward for smaller ones. You can bake a nice margin into it. Last year we priced the shirt at a $30 donation.
You can “product-ize” your team in any number of ways. This year I’m looking into private labelling some Sonoma wine. Participation percentage from our friends and family has been pretty good, but I want a higher ticket.
What would you say to someone who wants to replicate your success, but who doesn’t have professional experience making cold calls?
With cold calling, you can’t be afraid. Saying “no” is the worst thing the person on the other end can say to you, and you can’t be afraid to hear someone tell you “no.”
Here’s the thing. This is a damn good cause, and most people aren’t going to say no to this. Last year, I had a 91% hit rate when I got the deck in front of somebody. Even if someone can’t do the big check, a lot of times they’ll say, “I could throw you a couple hundred.”
My advice to anyone doing The D10 is: You signed up. You have conviction in your training. Now it takes conviction in the mission. Being able to leverage the positions that we hold in business in order to benefit pediatric cancer research is a special opportunity.
Any additional tips?
Timing is always important. The D10 in the Bay Area comes fairly late in the year, and some of these guys on the corporate side have budgets that dry up as you get deeper into the year. Plus, the corporate side of things can take a little longer to get all the necessary authorizations. So you want to start early.
For social media and friends and family communication, I like to wait until training picks up. That way you have regular updates and something to keep talking about.
Stuart Barden has generously allowed The D10 to make his full marketing deck available to any team or individual who registers for The D10 San Francisco Bay Area by Tuesday, July 31.