A Tale of Two Sausage Suppers

A word about how generosity is inspired…

I’m very fortunate to live in an area where a number of churches have sausage suppers. Rural German farmers have a higher standard for sausage – each congregation is very proud of its own recipe. A typical plate comes with their specially made sausage, mashed potatoes, white beans, horseradish (homemade and hot!), and a dessert. My mouth is watering right now.

The stated goal for these suppers is for the churches to raise money, to help with annual operating expenses or some mission endeavor. Now, let’s assume that the charge per plate is $9, and assume that 200 people will have dinner at one of the suppers. A little bit of math will give us a pretty good estimate of the gross revenue from our hypothetical sausage supper – $1,800. Actually, it will be a little bit less – some of those 200 are children, who receive a reduced price for a hot dog and potato chips.

Hold that image (and amount) in your mind, while you consider another scenario. Another dinner and the same people are invited. But this time, there’s no charge for dinner; they are asked for a freewill donation as they walk in the door. Mix that with a healthy dose of solid mission – now we’re talking about generosity, and an important concept of persuasion, the rule of reciprocity.

I have lived this story. Two dinners, two approaches to fundraising among the same people. We raised more than $5,000 twice using the freewill offering and a mission people cared about.

So how about a Jesus-type parable question — which approach do you think inspired more generosity?

I’m about to let you in on the most important little secret about why your members would consider increasing their giving or putting a bequest in their will.

Jerold Panas is a fundraiser’s fundraiser. His thoughts on fundraising and his research into donor motivations have revolutionized the way professional fundraisers the world over raise money. He has interviewed and surveyed thousands and thousands of donors in his forty years in the fundraising industry. He knows why donors give. And here are the top three reasons:

  1. Belief in the mission and vision of the organization,
  2. Confidence in the CEO/staff leadership
  3. Trust in the fiscal sustainability of the organization.

If you get those three things right, you have a solid basis for building generosity among your people. And number one is top of the list for a reason. Mission and Vision.