A plan for when the caterer cancels and 500 people need served at your event!

It’s the call you never want to receive. Especially, when the caterer was donating the food in the first place. But, it happens and what takes place afterwards can determine your future. The example below was a creative idea and it worked! Because of its success the same idea was carried on again the following year for the same event.

Gayle Gross, now the founder of SOAR with Network Fundraising, was on the planning committee for a theatre event in the city where she lived. The caterer, a major chain of restaurants, pulled out a few weeks before the event was to take place. People attending the event were expecting BBQ, and they were major donors for the non-profit. They had paid a large ticket price for the event to see a choir from Africa.

Gayle raised her hand when the committee chair asked if there were ideas on how to pull off feeding the group without spending money. “Let’s have a BBQ cook-off.” People fell silent for a moment and then the chatter went back to discussing other ideas. “I’m serious. We don’t have money to hire anyone. Let me come back to you next week with a plan.”

Plan for a BBQ cook-off for catering a 500 person event:

Get a $2500 sponsor. This money covers prize money (first prize is $1000 and there’s second place, third place, and a “best booth” award), the cost of plates, cups, napkins, utensils, beverages, potato salad, beans, cole slaw, buns and dessert. Sponsor receives logo on all marketing materials, acknowledgement from stage, and an opportunity to have a booth at the event.

Gather 20 businesses to participate. The businesses are not restaurants! (The business winning first place in this scenario was a glass company.) The businesses are willing to enter the BBQ Cook-off – each business has a “booth” space with their BBQ on their table. They each make five pounds of BBQ and have a way to keep it warm. Each booth is entered into a best booth contest. The benefit to each business is the marketing they receive and the opportunity to get in front of the guests. Limit each business to one in a category and offer the first right of refusal for the next time the event happens.

The setup. There’s a central area for serving the sides and then there’s a map listing what kind of BBQ is at each booth. The attendees visit the central area first and then branch out to find the booth where their favorite BBQ is. The judging of BBQs is done prior to anyone entering the event and the winning BBQs’ booths have special ribbons!

The plan was simple and when the committee heard about it they said okay. The event was pulled off within two weeks and the patrons attending the choir were very pleased with the BBQ. 500 people were served quickly (within 30 minutes) because planning went into how the event was set up.

Extra bonuses to consider, which involves partnership with other groups:

  1. An outside BBQ allows for a fire pit to do ingredients for smores (a real estate company provided the ingredients at the theatre event)
  2. Providing picnic blankets for people to spread out (a social club had special blankets available at the theatre event)
  3. Provide real wine glasses if you’re serving wine (the Chamber had glasses with their logo available at the theatre event. The wine was donated by a liquor store.)

The BBQ idea is something you’re encouraged to expand upon. It can certainly be a format for a fundraiser for a non-profit. Good luck if you decide to go for it. Gayle is always available for questions via email if you want to ask! iwantto@soarwithnetworkfundraising.com



Make your next donation an investment!

You are often asked by non-profits for monetary donations. Usually, you’ll get a letter of thanks with an example of how the money was spent. This is standard practice.

What if you could invest your money in educating the non-profit on a proven fundraising system? This is what a bank did for non-profits in their community when they hired Gayle to sit on non-profit boards and help them raise MORE MONEY with “seed” money the bank provided.

Consider this – spend $150 or less for a non-profit you love to help them grow their market share. They can take that investment, and with the education they receive, raise more money than they ever did before. The system you’d invest with has proven results. And, the founder and trainer is a volunteer at heart. She wants to see every organization going through her program succeed.

Details on two programs for your investment!

SOAR webinar logo340

$129 covers the cost for a webinar series on a program, which has proven to double fundraising within four months. There are four sessions (relationship management for fundraising, networking, advocate/volunteer program, and a new fundraising idea). A person going through this program has the opportunity to join a quarterly mastermind call with other fundraisers and this is at no additional cost. They also receive a book about the program to help them after the webinars are complete. The fundraising professional gets a replay of the webinars to watch afterwards just in case they missed something. They can ask questions and have them answered via email, or Gayle may decide to make a personal call instead.

SOAR discovery$150 covers the cost for a SOAR Discovery Session. This is when the non-profit has a scheduled 1:1 call with Gayle (founder of the program) to discuss their current fundraising program. The goal is to analyze the systems in place and offer suggestions for tweaks to make the current program more successful. The organization leaves the call with three goals, and a timeline for achieving them.

Christina Freshman met with Gayle for the first time to discuss a fundraiser she has coming up. She was very excited after the meeting and the next time they saw each other they posed for the photo below.

Christina testimony

Investing your dollars for a webinar series or SOAR Discovery Session is a meaningful gift of education for the non-profit you love.  

For more information on investing in your non-profit through one of these services, please click here!

By clicking on the link above you receive an email with more information and the opportunity to purchase an investment for your non-profit!

Growing up with better things is a trend that continues with fundraising

We want our children to have better things than what we had growing up. The same is true with SOAR with Network Fundraising. It’s taking the best and spreading it around because we want to grow up with better things. A portion of that line was stolen from Steve Jobs.

Did you know Jobs took a company that was was 90 days away from bankruptcy and turned it into the most valuable company in America in the mid nineties? Yes, Apple turned a big corner when Jobs was able to use an innovative approach. Look at the number of Apple laptops, iphones and ipads you see the next time you’re in a public place.

SOAR with Network Fundraising is a fundraising system. It’s taking innovative solutions, which have historically worked in raising money, and putting them into a format so anyone can learn how to be successful at fundraising. SOAR has a webinar series about how network fundraising works. Once you get involved with learning the system Gayle Gross, the founder of SOAR with Network Fundraising, is available for questions.

Network Fundraising is a valuable method for increasing the amount of money non-profits raise. Is the idea for everyone? YES!! Anyone looking to raise money will benefit from the tools taught in this system. In fact, a person just looking to build relationships for any type of business growth will benefit because there are tidbits on marketing, planning events to spread the word, and the basics for networking with others.

You can send messages to Gayle via Facebook at gaylegross.com or via email at iwantto@soarwithnetworkfundraising.com if you’d like to learn more. The link below will let you sign up for the webinar series right now. After paying for the series you receive an email with the link to register for the first one.

SOAR Webinar Series



How many people does it take to raise $115,000?

How many people does it take to raise any amount of money? It’s a loaded question, right? The variables are endless.

Take the question out of the scope of asking for major gifts and bring it to the community level because that’s when funding is sustainable. Now, how many people? There’s a fundraiser called a migration (moving from an area of low resources to an area of high resources) where networking plays a part. This fundraiser can raise $115,000 with less than twenty people’s help when they work alongside you to develop networking events for fundraising.

Networking brings people together to help them grow their market share through building relationships. When you set networking events up your organization is giving back to others. Giving is a good feeling. When an organization gives opportunities to others those people look for a way to give back. It’s win/win. They look for a way to fill your need.

SOAR with Network Fundraising has a webinar series where you can learn how to grow your fundraising program through the use of networking events. It’s inexpensive, $129, and what you learn will make an impact on the results for fundraising in your community.

There’s a short video (11 min.) about the SOAR Webinar Series and the impact networking events have made for others. Click here to view!

The video link above gives you an idea of how to establish monthly networking events to grow awareness about your organization in the community. These events have proven success! The webinar series goes much deeper into four parts of the process. The video explains!

Cheers to you for a good day,



Fundraising: Keep the Fire Going and Avoid Burnout!

Fund raisers have a tendency to burnout within a couple of years. It’s a tough job! There are so many moving parts and the kindling tends to weaken under the flame. When work, stress and pressure outweigh the enjoyment it causes a lack of energy and burnout surfaces.

How do you fight burnout?

  1. Delegate aspects of the program to your volunteers. New people bring different ideas. Delegating sounds easy enough but it does take a bit more work than just handing things over. There’s the letting go piece, training, and then being okay with how things are progressing. The fund raiser’s work doesn’t necessarily reduce but it does change and that can create a feeling of newness.
  2. Take each day in pieces! The full picture can be daunting. Small steps make adjustments easier. Keep a priority calendar and update it at the end of each day.
  3. Take a step back. I often talk about the V formation and how the lead bird falls back to let another bird lead for a while within a flock. You can do the same when you consider the V in V formation as volunteer. Stepping back empowers another person. It actually rekindles the flame and makes the program stronger in the end. This is not giving up your role but opening the door for someone to relieve you for the moment.

Let’s have some fun. We know what air does to a flame and I’m jumping into the ring of fire on this playfulness because I’m wearing my Air Jordans! The slogan “Just Do It!” comes to mind. Delegate, take each day in pieces, and work with your V (volunteer) formation to create success. It’s time to reduce burnout and go big!

High Five for Advocates in Fundraising!

The high five is when you’re in agreement on something. It may happen during celebration, or when there’s an idea floating around that’s been accepted. Even animals are trained to do the awesome gesture. It makes people smile!

Smile with me while I talk about Advocates, or the people helping you raise money. They are your volunteers. They share your information with the people they know, about the work you do, within their networks. At the end we will look at the HIGH FIVE, which are the five ways Advocates have said are the best ways for engaging them in your program!

Below are questions I was asked during a national conference call about Advocates a couple of years ago. I do not have the recording and so my answers are from the notes I wrote to prepare for the call. At the time there were 28 active Advocates helping us grow the fundraising program where I was working.

How do you recruit Advocates? They come through our networking events. We make sure to mention the Advocate program, and share the benefits of being involved. Our welcome person is an Advocate and they mention their role. Their excitement helps to engage others!

How do you train Advocates?  We provide all the materials they need to be successful. We visit with them over coffee and give them a description of the role, and the time commitment. They receive an Advocate packet, which contains all the information they need to share the mission with others. We also spend three months cultivating the relationship by having them involved in accomplishing tasks.

How do you manage Advocates? We host cultivation events outside of work at least one time each month. We send a weekly email that is fun! It is called the “Tuesday Pickle,” contains (clean) pickle jokes, AND serves as a reminder for people to invite guests to the next networking event. We have another Advocate connect with them to see how they’re doing. Sometimes there’s a mentor assigned. We ask them how they like to be recognized and what’s important to them. We follow through on those. We set expectations, provide tools for success, and they know the end goal. We empower Advocates to help us reach our goal by recognizing their strengths and giving them permission to use them.

Any other tips to share? Yes! Our strongest Advocates put together the following list after being asked, “What traits do WE look for in a person to find the perfect Advocate?”

  • A busy person
  • Passion about the mission
  • A leader
  • Relationship Builder – someone who networks
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Willing to stay in touch and communicate

How do you cultivate the perfect Advocate? You always maintain the mission of the organization and you do a HIGH FIVE!

  1. Train
  2. Invest in your Advocate and find out what motivates them (This is the “why they do what they do”)
  3. Develop a culture and get Advocates involved in events
  4. Show recognition and appreciation – ACKNOWLEDGE
  5. Camaraderie, inclusion, involvement

Good luck with finding the right group of people to help you move the mission forward. They are there, and they are ready for your high five!


My best to you for a great day!

The Lucky Ones in Fundraising!

Have you ever noticed how some people always get what they want? They tend to come off as being the lucky ones. Maybe you’re one of these people. Does the parking spot in front of the store open up just as you’re driving in? Does a new cashier open a line when you’re ready to check out with groceries? Are you a lucky one?

Let’s take a few minutes to determine who is and who is not a lucky one in fundraising. Let’s say you are the fund raiser. The person responsible for raising money for operations. I am the donor. Then, we have someone or something being helped by the money being raised. Me + You = More for someone or something.

More is defined as a greater amount or degree. It is the goal of fundraising, right? Let’s raise more. Let’s give more. Let’s supply more resources. Anytime MORE comes into the conversation there are additional things to think about. It makes sense, right? This may also bring more challenges.

Who are the lucky ones then? They have vision. The parking spot opens up because they believe it will. The new grocery clerk comes on duty because they know a new line will open up at the cash register…mostly, because it’s time! A line has formed down the ice cream aisle and around the candy bin. More is not always good!! YIKES!

Steve Jobs believed he was lucky because he found what he loved to do early in life. He was only ten when he ran into his first computer. When he was twelve he called Bill Hewlett (no unlisted numbers at the time) to get spare parts for a frequency counter. He got the parts and then Bill hired him the next summer.

Steve Jobs believed the web would change the world and he mentioned it in a video I watched last night online. The video was from the mid 90’s when he was between roles at Apple. There was certainty in his voice about the web changing the word in the future. He believed it and he described what it’s like today!!

Do you believe your fundraising methods are going to be successful? If you’re not sure it’s time to describe your plan in detail, and write it down. Think about the steps for accomplishing your financial goal and put together a timeline to make them happen. If what you’re doing now is not going to get you there think about alternatives, and take the time to course-correct. It’s never too early to visualize the future. It’s always okay to make changes. Jobs is the perfect example. Good LUCK!!