I reckon there’s at least one lesson for fundraisers in every TV gameshow that’s ever been broadcast. And now I know what you’re thinking. That’s a bold claim…
OK, so I may be hard pushed to find it sometimes, but it’s always in there. It’s something about the format.
There’s a clear analogy, for example, between major gift fundraising and Blind Date to the extent that writing the questions is remarkably easy:
Question 1: I’m a potential major donor to your charity. Where will you take me on our first date and why?
And any fundraiser who’s watched the brutal video section of Take Me Out, when contestants turn off their lights when they’re no longer “turned on” by their potential date, will see the relevance when it comes to holding a potential donor’s attention with their charity films. “No Likey? No Lighty!”…
So, I’ll do three less obvious ones in this blog:
Gameshow lesson 1 – say what you see!
Any fans of Catchphrase out there? Contestants had to buzz in and identify the phrase or idiom that Mr Chips (the little yellow character) was acting out. Ah, happy memories. But what was the fundraising lesson? Well, think about Roy Walker’s catchphrase? “Say what you see!” and you’re there. We live in the world of the TLA (Three Letter Acronym) and obfuscate our communication with unnecessarily technical language. This distances our supporters from the importance and power of our cause. Let’s cut out the jargon, and tell it like it is.
Gameshow lesson 2 – Make sure The Price Is Right!
Haven’t you always wanted a gold-leaf bevelled mirror, like the one introduced in this clip? The contestants get one bid each, and whoever gets the nearest without going over the actual value wins. The price of that mirror was £175, quite a lot of money in 1987. Anyway, the lesson for fundraisers is pretty clear, isn’t it? Do your research, and pitch at the right level. This is particularly pertinent for trust fundraisers. Don’t go overboard, but do your research, look at their giving history, and make sure you come in at the right price.
Gameshow lesson 3 – get face to face!
Now I want to get to the bottom of exactly why The Banker is such an important and formidable character in Deal or No Deal. Why does he instill such fear?
  • You never see him
  • You never hear him
  • He is in control and is the one who phones Noel
It’s about the fear of the unknown and a lack of control, isn’t it? If we can get to meet our supporters we can build a rapport, understand their body language, hear their voices. Remember that face to face is best, and that we can build better relationships if we seize the initiative, and create dialogue rather than waiting for something to happen. What’s the worst that could happen if you pick up the phone and make the first move?
So, there you have it. Three lessons for fundraisers from gameshows. You’ve been a lovely audience. Don’t forget to tune in for more of the same next week. Good night, all.