The Heart of Your Fundraiser: Special Appeal + Paddle Raise

The Heart of Your Fundraiser: Special Appeal + Paddle Raise

Timing, sequencing and program content make or break fundraising events. That’s why it’s vital to work with a fundraising and benefit event pro who applies strategy, finesse and knowledge of what works for your events.

Fundraising Partners

Choose a fundraising partner who won’t apply a cookie-cutter approach to your event and mission moment. Rather, find a team who will design content and timelines that center your mission, your donors and your unique needs for maximum impact and real results.

What Is a Special Appeal + Where Does It Belong?

Your special appeal is the beating heart within your fundraiser. It’s the sun everything else revolves around. Your special appeal will statistically account for 45-75% of your night’s bottom line. When executed well, more than 60% of guests statistically participate in this giving moment. Contrarily, only about 12% of guests participate in a live auction. A powerful special appeal brings your community together, with all eyes focused on your mission.

Your special appeal is an opportunity to tell an impactful story in a personal and compelling way, while giving your community a way to join in and become involved in right on the spot. It’s a moment your Fundraising Ambassador or Benefit Auctioneer has been building momentum towards, using everything that came before it. 

Key Factors that Determine Special Appeal Placement

  • Cocktail hour timing (How long is it? What day of the week is it? What time did your doors open? Are your guests big drinkers?)
  • What other content/stories are we featuring in your program? Videos? Live speakers?
  • Are you offering a live auction? How many items will you include? 
  • What other revenue streams do you wish to integrate into your program?
  • When will food be served? What type of catering service is planned?
  • What sort of entertainment or other mission-centered activities are planned?
  • Who are your major donors? What does your historical data say about their giving habits? Do they have a seat? Are they happy?

Based on these answers, your Benefit Auctioneer will strategize how to craft the run-of-show to create a memorable evening, all while encouraging maximum giving at your appeal. Here are some common possibilities:

  • Appeal first – preceding the live auction, if offered, first ⅓ of program
  • Appeal after a few live items, if offered, first ½ of program
  • Appeal in the middle of live auction, if offered, second ⅓ of program
  • Appeal following the live auction, if offered, last ⅓ of program

Notice we didn’t include an “Appeal LAST” option? That’s because this is a terrible way to position the most important mission moment in your live program. DO NOT END YOUR LIVE PROGRAM WITH FUNDRAISING. Position it earlier in the ROS when donors are at their maximum emotional peak for much better outcomes. 

Your fundraising specialist will determine the optimal time to capture the attention and hearts of your donors. When is the peak moment of the night where your crowd will be most captive and engaged? Where in the program will your story best be heard? Where is it most likely to move people to action? These are the questions your fundraising specialist will answer, after you answer the preceding questions. Teamwork makes the dream work!

An intentional, big-picture strategy is essential to fundraising success. It not only helps you raise the most money, it creates the best possible experience for guests. That way, they’ll tell everyone they know what a great time they had and how they learned so much about the amazing work you’re doing.


Reach out for a complimentary consultation so we can help you craft a plan of action designed to raise as much money – and awareness – as you possibly can!