Monthly Archives: August 2012

We have to have GREAT Guns!!!! and alot of them!!!

ImageThe other day, a friend called and told me about an upcoming Charity Fundraising Event in our town which was being held by a very well-known Outdoor or Conservation Charity.  He told me it was a “Crab Feast” and that they were going to have a lot of guns there as well as a lot of other items on their auction.  He said they were only selling about 150 tickets so it won’t be crowded.

If you’re not from the Delmarva area, then you wouldn’t understand what a “Crab Feast” is but you can most likely tell just from the name – Steamed Maryland Crabs piled up ready to be devoured.  There is nothing like a cold beer with steamed crabs…an absolute Maryland Tradition.

I asked him “So Jerry, what kinds of guns are they giving away”  because if they don’t have great guns, I’m not going to go!!!  Plus I asked how many guns were they giving away, because I won’t go if they are only giving away ten (10).  WRONG!!!  I didn’t ask any of these questions and neither do people attending events!!!  I want to go to the Crab Feast because my friends are going, eat, drink and win a few things…that’s all.  I have a gun safe FILLED with guns from these events.  I bet I have won 20 guns…my son has won 5 of them.  We love it!!!

But the statement that they were going to give away guns wasn’t questioned or even talked about – Guns is all he had to say.  Yes, I am a Hunter and Outdoorsmen and I believe in our right to bear arms.  With that being said…I bought two tickets for my wife and I.

Over my 18 years of experience hosting and being involved in the planning of 1,000’s of Charity Fundraisers, BW Unlimited got its humble start with hosting Outdoor Charity Fundraisers.  Since that time, I have heard so many excuses for failure or reasons for overspending that it would take too long to list them all.  But the one aspect that I hear all the time is simply this – “We have to have a lot of Good Guns.”  What this means is this…we want to have expensive guns at our Fundraiser.

When you look one of the planners of these types of events in the eye and question them about it, they will always say that people only come to their event because they give away great guns.  This is 100% false!!!  They are lying to themselves, lying to the committee and hurting the charity they are trying to help.

I know, if you don’t agree with me, you’re going to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about – ok.  But let’s look at these facts.  I have been awarded and noticed as the #1 Fundraiser in North America for two different Outdoor Charities.  One of these Charities was for an animal which does not exist anywhere near Maryland (where I am from).  For this animal, I was able to direct a fundraiser to raise close to $100,000.00 net (profit) in 4 hours.  Due to direct management, I was able to turn nearly 18 Chapters of this same organization from floundering fundraisers to record setting Charity Auctions.  For another charity, the first event I assisted with was the most successful charity event in their history – it was founded in 1933.  I have met with CEO’s and their Vice Presidents of these organizations to educate them on my successful strategies.

The question is and seriously ask yourself this:  Why do you have to give away expensive firearms?  I can bet that is what you want to win OR that is what your firearms dealer wants you to do.  I would bet my house on this.  Firearms Dealers ALWAYS want Charities to take expensive guns.  Of course people would love to win an expensive gun – that’s obvious. 

But here is the route of the issue – you are hosting a Charity Fundraiser.  Are you hosting a giveaway party?  If you are and you don’t care about raising money or profiting, go ahead and get all the high end guns.  But if you want to make the most amount of profit, look at this example:

“John comes to your banquet to eat, drink and enjoy himself with his friends.  He also wants to win items and get a chance to bid on a lot of great items.  John buys a raffle ticket for $10.00 from someone working a raffle to win a gun there.  When John’s raffle ticket number is called, he claims his price for which he only paid $10.00 for.”

Now – if John wins a $1,500.00 Benelli Black Eagle 2, he raises his hands and yells “Woohoo I won a Imagegun!!!”  If John wins a $350.00 Mossberg Pump Shotgun…guess what he does?  He doesn’t say “Oh no, I won a Mossberg” not at all, he says “Woohoo I won a gun!!!”  But the Charity just profited $1,150.00.  Did you read that?  Do you understand that?  The difference in price is – $1,150.00.

I already know that there is a section of you out there who believe that you have to have expensive guns at your charity events.  But the truth is, depending on the amount of people at your event – let’s say 150 to 300 people, there should only be two “Mid-Range” guns there.  The net profit on the raffling or sale of the gun should be greater than 65%.   The national norm for what dictates a successful Charity Event is 60 to 65% net to gross profit.   What does this mean to you?  For every gun that is sold or raffled, the profit should “AT LEAST” be 65%.  Putting it in these terms while looking at this example:

                                                      $1,500.00 purchase price for a Firearm

                                                      65% of $1,500.00 is $975.00

                                                      $1,500.00 plus $975 is $2,475.00

                                                      248 ten dollar ($10.00) raffle tickets must be sold

                                                      Your Profit for the sale or Raffling of the High End MUST be at least:

                                                                    $975.00 in order for it to be successful!!!

                                                                                     ~ As a reverse ~

                                                       $350.00 purchase price for a Firearm

                                                       65% of $350.00 is $227.50

                                                       $350.00 plus $227.50 is $577.50

                                                       58 ten dollar ($10.00) raffle tickets must be sold

                                                                 $227.50 in order for it to be successful!!!


If you are able to sell 248 $10.00 Raffle Tickets, your profit for Option #2 would be $2,247.50.  People at your event will be just as happy to win Option #2 as they are in Option #1.  But you will be even happier than the winner!!!


At these events, people like to win.  Whether it’s a high or expensive gun or a boat paddle, they like to win.  People ONLY SEE stocks and barrels!!!  For my events, I will only have two expensive guns and these are strategically placed in areas which will yield a very high profit.  The others (less expensive) guns normally in the area of $150.00 to $350.00 at the absolute most, will be placed in various raffles along with donated or less expensive products.


Now, lets talk about the age old question – how many firearms should we have at our Charity Fundraiser?


Keep in mind, the absolute most expensive item you will have at your event are Guns!!!  So acquiring the firearms should be planned.  Also, do not let anyone change your opinion when choosing them.  Lets answer the question asked above, how many firearms should we have?  The answer is in the amount of people there.  There are many out there who believe 1 gun for every ten people – but then they are not me….I like to be successful so here is what I do each and every time:


100 to 150 people – 8 guns

150 to 250 people – 10 guns

250 to 350 people – 12 guns


Competition to win the guns is the key.  If you are giving out gun after gun, the competition fades which means profit goes down.


Now, the next issue is this….how many times do you like watching a repeat TV Show?  I bet not often.  So using that thought, how many times do you think you should use the exact same raffle?  Part of the success of a raffle is the “Fun” experience.  I know one Charity who does the same raffle over and over and over again – Card Raffle.  How this works is simple – sell 52 cards for $10 or $20.  There are many issues at repeating this same raffle at the same event but the real problem is…the crowd gets bored.  Why not change the raffle, do something different.  Make it a game or otherwise instead of a repeated TV show.


When you have a very large crowd, there is a strategy to get more pre event raffles sold…but the key is in lower priced guns in bulk.


This is my opinion…but the question you have to ask yourself is – do you want to profit or just give money away?




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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


What’s in a name?

ImageRecently, my friends and I, who have been involved in highly profitable fundraising events for years, were discussing the question “What’s in a name.”  Basically, what we are talking about is….reputation surrounding the name of a business or especially a Charity. 

Several years ago, my team and I assisted a Charity in the Maryland area and built their fundraising events to be the largest, most successful events in the DelMarVa region (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia).  We were in charge of the planning, the strategy, the management everything from beginning to end.  The first event had 830 people in attendance and the Net proceeds were record breaking.  The following year, we followed it up with yet another record breaking event…everyone was stunned at the success.  But the mistake was, those who were on the outskirts of the event, thought they knew the Recipe for Success.  They thought that they knew how to plan and manage it and based on several differing opinions, decided to go it alone the following year. 

Now, 95% of the time, the events which we are a part of, always get a name for themselves and people attend merely just to see it happen.  People come from all over the country to see our events unfold.  What the people didn’t realize is…the incredible amount of time, planning and strategy goes behind each and every fundraising platform.  So that we are all on the same tract, a fundraising platform can be defined as the Live Auction, the Silent Auction, the Pre-Event Raffles, Event Raffles etc. 

Routinely, people attend these high impact events with a notepad in hand, sometimes with video camera’s etc. to try to duplicate what we do.  However, what they do not understand is the question “Why?” 

Why is this item placed here?  Why does this raffle have this many items?  Why are those items on that raffle?  Why are there only 20 items on the Live Auction?  Why are there that many items on the Silent Auction?  Why?

Another question they do not understand or ever ask is….what mistakes have you made in the past which prompted this amount of experience or expertise?  If you did it differently, what negative results would come from it? 

If you know me, then you will already know just how much emphasis I place on my reputation.  You will also know Imagehow serious I am about planning and hosting a successful event.  Basically, the success or failure of the event which I am a part of rests solidly on my shoulders and I feel the pressure.  My name precedes me.  The moment an event occurs which I am a part of is not a success, guess who is to blame?  That’s right….me.  No one wants to hear the extenuating circumstances or that this person didn’t listen or didn’t follow the direction they were given…I am expected to pull the money rabbit out of my hat each and every time regardless.  So for that, I plan to plan to plan to plan…something most everyone does not do.  It’s all about my reputation.

What many do not understand or fail to realize is….why would anyone expect less then a success?  I recently told a good friend and client that each and every time I step up to the fundraising Home Plate, I always swing for the fence – always.  I will never except 2nd best.  So, each event I plan and manage, will always be planned for success.  If it is not an absolute success, then it’s a failure, something I do not take lightly.

So, after hosting this monstrous, extremely popular and successful evenImaget, the committee decided to go it alone.  Do I need to tell you what happen?  Well, Failure with a capital “F”.  The profit plummeted, the attendance fell drastically.  Leaving the committee wondering why.  They thought they knew the Recipe, but obviously they left out the crucial secret ingredients which honestly, are not shared with anyone, basically Grand Momma’s Recipe for a successful fundraising event (That’s a joke). 

Then, recently, I learned that they think it’s the name that is hurting them.  That the name of the event is the whole key to why the event isn’t successful.  If anything, the name is what helps them.  People remember the event which we were a part of and not the event they did.

One must remember, reputation for “Fantastic” is a hard accomplishment.  Building and planning these events is stressful to say the very least.  So many believe that they can walk in, place items around a room and people will just spend, spend, spend.  That’s never the case.  It has to do with reputation, commitment to success, contacts, networks, understanding the complexity of a successful fundraising event.

So…they key is, once you build a positive reputation surrounding a name, you must continue to perform at that level.  But once it starts to slide downward into the negative, it will take a miracle to get it back.  This is just food for thought.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


The “Charity Soapbox”

While planning a major Charity Fundraiser in Seattle, several years ago, I spoke to the founder and explained to her that when she gets up to address the crowd, to please keep her speech short.  She explained that she had a lot to say and her supporters attend to hear how the charity was doing.  I explained to her that people do not attend to listen to speeches, they attend to have a great time, enjoy great food and drinks and win items on their Auctions.  I explained to her that fundraisers are “Social Events” and not informative lectures.  If she gives a lecture, she will lose the crowd and their motivation and enthusiasm will plummet.  She didn’t listen and prior to the Live Auction, she stood on the stage in front of a large screen with a power point presentation and began.

I stood on the sidelines, grinding my teeth, watching the fundraising dollars drain from the room.  As she started, everyone was listening but after five (5) minutes, people began standing and walking to the restroom.  At the ten (10) minute mark, couples were standing and leaving.  At the 20 minute mark – it looked like the end of a football game – mass exodus.

For the Live Auction, people were already tired of sitting listening to her speech and a pack of wild horses wouldn’t get them engaged.  Prior to the Live Auction, I was approached by no less then 50 people who were planning to bid on the items and determining their bid amounts.  When the auction finally came, all of them were gone.  The Live Auction was a bust.  She didn’t listen…but honestly, Charities hardly ever do.

What you must realize is, people attend Charity Fundraisers for the “Event of it.”  At these events, it’s time for a “Soft Sell” and not over the top long winded speeches.  An informative video is the best option which shows different photo’s, background music and short comments from the people helped – NOT LECTURES.

You have to understand a Charity Fundraiser from the beginning of the day.  But the key is, think of it as one of your guests.  As the day starts, women are planning what time should they start getting ready.  After everyone is dressed, excitement starts to build.  During the ride there, couples plan on the amount of money they will spend.  As they arrive and walk into the venue, they immediately begin to see what is on the auctions.  They meet their friends, find their seats and Social Hour begins.  They watch the silent auction, begin to bid on items, buy raffle tickets and get engaged into the event.  They watch the clock wondering when the Live Auction is going to begin.

During this social period, this is the time for the Charity to meet their guests and talk about the Charity.  However, at some point, which I suggest as dinner is served, is the time for the appointed person to get up and thank everyone for attending, thank them for supporting the Charity and that the proceeds are going to continue the mission of the organization.  Let them know that representatives are here and if they would like to learn more, to come see you.  If people want to know more, they will approach someone – it’s called “Soft Selling.”

A three (3) year study conducted by BW Unlimited revealed that 70% of the people attending do not know who the benefit supports.

Needless to say after the fundraiser was over, she asked me why the Auction didn’t do as well – I told her why and that she didn’t listen to me.  Of course she argued a bit but finally came to realization that my advice was right.

But the problem was…the event was over.  I wanted to say “I told you so” but the lesson she learned was enough.

Moral to the Story:

Don’t give long winded speeches, let your crowd come to you.  If they want more information, they will come to you.  Look at your Charity Fundraiser as a Social Get Together with a fundraising mechanism and not as a Lecture.  Keep people happy and motivated to bid so that your organization can continue and grow it’s mission.

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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized