Q: What happens if a Table Captain asks 14 people (as you suggest) and more than 10 of them show up that morning for the Ask Event? How will they all be seated at a table that is set for 10?
Jensen in South Carolina
A: Most organizations find that if a Table Captain starts with 14 confirmed guests, by the time the event comes around, they will end up with 10 at their table. Some guests will back out in the weeks prior to the event and some will not be able to make it on the day of the event due to unexpected circumstances.
If someone does end up with more than 10 guests, here’s what to do. First of all, have an overflow table or two set in the back. This will allow you to seat guests who come to the event that were not registered, and could also be a place to put a guest if a table is too full. It also may be possible to seat an additional guest at the full table. It may be a bit tight with 11 people sitting around it, but the event will only last one hour!
Have plenty of volunteers available to troubleshoot, as challenges and the unexpected will happen. In this case, have one of your volunteers work with the Table Captain to move a few of their people to a nearby table with empty seats.
Ideally the Table Captains will have served as Ambassadors prior to hosting their table, meaning that they’ve brought many of their guests to their privately-hosted Point of Entry Event before inviting them to the Ask Event. In that case, the guests have already established some relationship with your organization and you could seat them with a board member or high-level staff member that welcomes them warmly and serves as their table host for the hour.
Q: If you only have two months until your Ask Event, and only half of the people on a Table Captain’s list of invitees have been through a Point of Entry, do they still invite them to the breakfast? Or do they invite them to a Point of Entry instead and then try to invite them to the breakfast in the follow-up call from the Point of Entry? Relatedly: If you have a new Table Captain that hasn’t had a single person on their list come to a Point of Entry, do they invite them to the breakfast or still try to do the Point of Entry first?
Kimberly in California
A: The only reason to have an Ask Event is to “harvest” all of the good cultivation work you have been doing with the prior year’s Point of Entry guests. The Ask Event is not a substitute for a Point of Entry. Inviting people to the Ask Event as their first exposure to your organization is akin to having first-time guests to your home enter through the back door.
Many nonprofits that attempt to “self-implement” our model, without having a system for developing Ambassadors who fill their Points of Entry, get boxed into a pre-established Ask Event date and then default, out of necessity, to filling that event with traditional Table Captains who dutifully call friends and colleagues to reciprocate prior favors by joining them at their table.
You need a minimum of 50% of your Ask Event guests to be people who have attended a Point of Entry in the prior twelve months. You also want 100% of your Table Captains to have served as Ambassadors in the prior year; this is a key factor in accomplishing the prior goal.
If someone hasn’t invited a single person to a Point of Entry, we would not suggest having them serve as a Table Captain. Engage them in serving as an Ambassador by working to get at least ten people to a Point of Entry and then continue to cultivate them towards being a Table Captain at next year’s Ask Event.
I hope this helps to clarify. Good luck with your event.
Think you already know what the Benevon Model is? Think again!
We have distilled five key metrics to ensure your success. Here’s the third one:
One hundred percent of Ask Event Table Captains have been successful Ambassadors in the prior 12 months.
Answer these seven questions to see how your organization is doing at meeting this third key metric:
- How many Ambassadors does your organization have? An Ambassador in the Benevon Model has attended a prior Point of Entry Event and has then hosted and filled a private Point of Entry with a minimum of ten guests in attendance.
- Are you having a minimum of two sizzling private Point of Entry Events per month, each hosted and filled (with ten or more guests) by an Ambassador?
- Are you recruiting a minimum of one new Ambassador out of every Point of Entry Event?
- Do you have a process for supporting these eager new Ambassadors in being successful at hosting and filling their Point of Entry Event or are you expecting them to follow through on their own?
- Have you calculated how many Ambassadors you will need in the next nine to twelve months to ensure you will have enough Table Captains for the size of Ask Event you want to have?
- Have you committed to an Ask Event venue that is too large for the number of successful Ambassadors you will likely have this year? Do you have the flexibility to reduce the size of your event to meet this metric, i.e., are you willing to scale your event to the number of true Ambassadors you will have by the time of the event?
- Or conversely, are you counting on board members, prior years’ Table Captains, and staff to help you out in the end by “filling tables” with their friends and colleagues who have never attended a Point of Entry?
Organizations that are rigorous about meeting this metric may have smaller Ask Events but they are able to meet Benevon’s formula for a successful Ask Event:
- Formula: take the number of people who attend your Ask Event and divide by two, then multiply by $1,000.
- For example, a 200-person Ask Event would yield $100,000 in cash and pledges.
Q: Our organization has been utilizing the same venue for our annual fundraiser for four years now, and my supervisor and I are looking at a different venue for next year.
We like the new venue because it has a bigger space (since the past years have been a bit tight); however, they can only provide ten round tables that seat ten to twelve people. The remaining tables can only seat up to nine. Do you have any suggestions for how we can work around this in regard to the Benevon Model?
We think perhaps trying to recruit more Table Captains for more tables, but they would only be able to invite up to eight people instead of ten to twelve.
Nicole in Oregon
A: The number one criteria for someone to serve as a Table Captain at the Ask Event is that they have been a prior Ambassador, hosting and filling a Point of Entry Event for ten or more people in the prior twelve months. Before you look at expanding your event and recruiting more Table Captains, we would recommend that you look at how many of last year’s Table Captains had been prior Ambassadors.
If it wasn’t 100%, rather than having more tables, we’d coach you to focus instead on having 100% of your Table Captains be prior Ambassadors. We find that Table Captains who have been prior Ambassadors bring people to the Ask Event who have already been cultivated by attending a Point of Entry and receiving at least one follow-up call. Guests who have attended a prior Point of Entry give on average two to four times more money when they come to the Ask Event. Perhaps you can make do with fewer tables and focus on quality over quantity when it comes to guests at the event.
Assuming that you will need more than ten tables, we’d suggest you use the nine-person tables and just squeeze in a tenth seat. It might be a little tight, but the event is only one hour, and we find people will understand. You could also look into renting additional ten-person tables if you are more comfortable with that set-up.