Reach your
Financial Potential
YFC Banquet and Comedy Cafe Guide

#2 Overview

Perception   Let's be real honest. Donors give to their perception of what you do - not to what you do. "What?" A donor gives you money because he/she believes you will use that money in the way that he/she believes they would use that money. Certainly they have little idea what it really takes to reach students, but they do have the money. Often fundraisers cause a donor to have more questions than answers. Be careful of what your event is saying. This is why less is more. It is perfectly acceptable to let them support their own perception. They want to support you, don't do anything to stop it. Intricate details stifle donors. Look at the following NEVER list...
  1. Never print your financial information. This is a comedy Cafe not a board meeting. Never mention your budget if it is over 100,000 dollars. Blue collar givers (most likely your number one % monthly giving group) subconsciously believe that nothing should cost more to operate than their yearly income. You say we need "1 million to operate" and they will shut down their giving. They will consider you to be frivolous and wasteful, especially when you are (in their mind) a very volunteer based ministry.
  2. Never use the phrase "We don't do things the old way anymore." Only talk about lives being changed. Many of your donors hold the old ways as being the right way. Don't pull their rug out from under them... and thus under you.
  3. Never show an affinity toward any political party. Potential donors are on both sides of the isle. Don't allow your speakers to do it either.
  4. Never talk about financial shortcomings. People only strongly support winning teams. Donors believe that teams that are close to bankruptcy are not worth investing in. I agree.
  5. Never say anything that does not lead people to give. Eliminate material that clouds the goal. Does having a student sing a rap song cause people to give? Then do it. But if not... DON'T. Does having a music video cause people to give? What has been in your banquet that does not belong?
  6. Music... think about it. We play youth music for youth, so let's play adult music for adults. Many adults still consider RAP to be a scourge on society. Is it your mission statement to change their mind, or is your mission statement to reach students. Get rid of Rap at your banquets. Don't ad to their questions of your ministry. Don't make them question if they really want to sponsor your version of their ministry.
  7. Don't call people out of the audience to speak, testify, OR SING, who are not fully prepared beforehand. YFC has had a reputation of being often unprepared, let's not let that feeling be proven by our banquet. Anything worth doing is worth preparing to do, especially at your fundraiser.
  8. Do not use an auction company to fill your silent auction products. Donors come with an idea of what they will give. They will give it or spend it. Your choice! Donors who buy things to support you, have now given 70% of your gift to a secular company for no reason. People want to give to YOU, do not let an auction company steal 70% of your donations. That would be a crime against your donor. If you must use an auction company to provide overpriced sports and rock-n-roll memorabilia, please tell your guest that only 30% (or whatever your agreement is) of the income actually goes to your organization. Do this in writing on the auction tables.

Perception also goes for the ever famous YFC / Campus Life promotional videos. These are among the biggest "donation busters" at a fundraising event. They are often done by the youngest staffer who owns a Macbook. Great, but let's set some video parameters. You do not need a video that shows dodge ball tournaments, volleyball tournaments, Pie Fights, Water fights, beach trips, Parties, Rave's, and the like. Donors know you do those, nevertheless that are not going to support you solely on your fun programming schedule. Get serious! Get profitable! We are in an era in general that is growing tired of social programs being funded by the middle class. Donors give to you because you reach students for Christ, not for canoeing. Never forget that your name itself says Youth For Christ, not Youth For Games. Certainly fun and games are involved, but the donor wants to see results and not necessarily the actions in getting there. I bought a new car last week - I didn't buy a video of what the shop workers did on their lunch break or at the company picnicking party! Certainly your videos can show fun, but use you videos to show students praying, altar times, reading their bible, and the like. This is the effect that your donor wants have on the kids. Show the results - not the process! Again, results - not process!

I might suggest that your video could include pictures of the group holding signs that say "Thank You" to the donor. You might have a series of clips of kids actually saying thank you verbally. Get creative. You've got a iPad, use it!

Everyone has their own generation. We all think our generation is the most effective one. Stay generational to your donor. Remember to play music that appeals to the donor and their perception of good music. Whereas RAP is great at the Campus Life club, many of your donors think it is the scourge of the nation. So why would you play it as your background track? Please tell me? Remember that your Comedy Cafe is a fundraiser not a Music awareness and acceptance event. Have that next week on your own dollar.

Needs   The donor needs you. You represent them. You are their evangelistic outreach to the youth of America. They might not see that, so it is your job to subtly explain that. Let me give you a quote that you might want to use to help them understand that. Feel free to use it to help you explain your validity. Thus I am saying this to you...

Dear (insert your name here), As a Christian I have been called to take the gospel to the world, and I believe especially the youth of today. I do not have an open door to the public schools or the time it takes to make this happen. This is what you do. I need you as much as you need me. I need you to be my missionary to the students of America. I don't want to simply support you, I want you to be my partner in reaching this generation. Thank you for being my hands and my feet  and my voice in reaching these students." - Mike Williams (Feel free to put this on a card from me and read it at your next fundraising event)

Use my quote or get a friend to say it to you. Your event needs to help your donor see how that you are their missionaries to the public school system. You are not asking for donors, you are asking to be their personal ambassador in the public education system.

Tire Kickers & And Buyers   Who you have at a banquet is as important as what you serve or who entertains. Some Directors try to use star power to get people to attend their fundraisers only to be disappointed that that the "star" was unable to turn the audience from fans of them into fans of YFC. Star power is not donor power. Star power does not mean successful profitability! We will address that on tab #5. The old axiom in fundraising is true... It is easier to get a current donor to increase their gift, than it is to acquire a genuine new donor. Your job in finding an audience is not about the entertainment, it is about rounding up every donor and getting them to bring friends. You need peer pressure to turn tire kickers into those who buy in to what you are doing. People need the confirmation of those they know to really give you any type of large or long term gift commitment. So as you choose your advertising method, think long and hard how you will connect with your current donors and get them to bring friends. Are you personally calling all your donors and asking them to bring a couple of friends to the event? Be careful thinking that table sponsorship means table filling. It does not. Get a table sponsors, but get people at the event as well. But we do want a substantial amount of fresh blood at an event as well. But know that it is going to take a few events and connections to get that new blood flowing financially to any great extent. Get on the phone. Ge on the phone. Get verbal commitments from your current buyers to bring in the tire kickers.

There  are 3  keys  to  every fundraising  event.  Learn  them  well.
(adapted for YFC from

#1  Know your donors. Who gives to you? Who is most likely to give to you? What are their ages? Gender? Their likes and dis-likes? Don't forget who your audience is at a fundraiser! Many YFC fundraisers fail in this area.

a. Your greatest giving potential donor is most likely 45 - 60 years old. Make sure that every piece of music played, including the music bed for your really cool "Crazy Kid's" video has music that relates to them. The latest version of "She's Got A Big Bible" does nothing more that bring credance to any fear they have that youth ministry is not the same as it was in their day. We know that it is not, BUT, people give to "Their perception" and not yours. Don't spoil their dream.

b.  Men control the number of zero’s written on a check. You have to get men to your event to reach maximum financial potential. Women are on certainly your side and pulling for your success, but their ability to write you a BIG check or commit to a 12 month support amount will need to be done as a marital effort. Connect with the men to keep your group happy and abundantly giving.

c. Men hate to have to wait for anything ... including waiting to eat. Make sure there is food for them to put in their mouth upon arrival, and plenty of it. Men struggle with conversation. Food becomes a buffer between them and a possible stranger sitting at their table. At a banquet, Require your caterers to have the salad and desert preset. They work for you - tell them what they will do or find another caterer. At a banquet, Publicly announce that people may begin eating at least ten minutes before your program officially starts. “Please begin your dining experience tonight. We will have a group prayer when everyone arrives.” Same goes for a buffet.

d. Men have short attention spans. Eliminate long intros, long stories, and long programs. Present what is needed to present your case for support, nothing more. Those who are praying should pray and save their additional speeches for Sunday. Eliminate emcees altogether, they usually just clutter the time.

e. Men will give according to the lowest printed success number. Publish your total largest number as your yearly student ministry count.

f. Have fun and sports trivia playing on the video screens without loud music during the pre-event time. Men will appreciate the challenge, and it will distract them from their own uncomfortability with conversation. Do not play the music bed loudly. Keep it soft. Women at the table want to talk.

#2 Keep The Production Simple!  Unfortunately your organization will not be judged by your daily work - but rather by your ability to do a Comedy Cafe or Banquet. It is better to be simple and perfect than complex and mediocre. Simple is the new complex.

a. Simple centerpieces work best. The more you spend on centerpieces the more your audience will wonder what there donations are going for. Use pictures of your students holding "Thank You" signs that they have made. The 8X10 frames can be saved from year to year. Now your centerpieces act as a testimonial reinforcement of your work. Flowers never did that for you.

b. Eliminate the temptation to turn your event into an award show or future event promo! If you need to honor a volunteer or special person, ask that volunteer's Pastor to allow you to do it at their home church, in front of their friends. That will produce for you more volunteers anyway. Use your event soley to focus on reasons they need to support your ministry. You can only sell one thing at a time. Your Comedy Cafe or Banquet is in the now! Do not use it as a time to hype every future fundraiser until 2020. This makes you look like all you do is fundraising.

c. A simple full sheet of paper makes the best financial response card. Seniors do not like small lines. Do you really want to frustrate a donor when they are writing a check? Do you really want to try a decipher an email address written with a cheap banquet pen on a tiny line? Of course not. We will include a pre-written response page on this website. Never give boxes for Volunteering, or Board Member Information, or anything other than giving a financial response. Your Cafe or banquet is about raising the funds, do a board member raiser on your own time! Have multiple ways to give (e-giving, credit card, debit). Make the giving portion effortless for your donor.

d. Simple introductions unify classes. You don’t need to announce where everyone on your program went to college, or where they worked. A good intro says, “Please welcome our Director ... John Smith.” This goes for your speaker as well. Don’t give your audience a loophole to categorize anyone on your program as to education or theology. Men, including Pastors, never like another man to look more educated or more important than they are.

e. Simplify your technology. Technology increases your chance for mistakes. Have your videos ready on both computer file and DVD. Technical failures are marked against your account. You don’t need a power point slide for everyone who speaks. NEVER place your sound system in the middle of the room. Put it off to the side of the stage. Don't let technology take the place of donors! You are not doing a Third Day show, you are raising money! Give your potential donor the best seat in the house with an unobstructed view of the platform.

f. Simple white lights are best. Forget unsightly lighting trees and scaffolding. All you need is a few really bright white lights that will brightly light your stage. People need to see your face well lit to believe your speech. Red, green, and yellow lights make your event look like a concert and not a fundraiser. House lights need to be at least 50% all the time for seniors in the room to feel comfortable.

#3 Keep The Program Positive!
You are not there to promote what you are not doing, you are there to promote students being saved, families being helped, Abstinence being taught, and at-risk kids being transformed by the power of God. Give those items alone the spotlight. Don't talk politics or complain about current Presidential administrations, or how they effect you. You can't change that on Cafe or Banquet night, stop trying.

a. Positive events don’t talk about financial woes! People want to join winning teams! Are you a winning team in your county, then tell them that. Every staff member needs to be smiling and joy filled.

b. Positive reinforcement of results. If you were asked why someone should support you as opposed to another para-church organization can you articulate it in a positive manner? What sets you apart is that you are the last ministry still going into the PUBLIC SCHOOL arena on a consistent basis. In this day of tighter wallets, somebody is getting left out of the donation pool, you must make a good positive case for your share of it. Do you have a 30 second presentation of your work? Do you have a three minute presentation of your work? Before you finish this website you will. The testimony tab will prepare you and your staff members for that.

c. Positive events lift the audience's attitude. Happy people give more. God loves a cheerful giver. Don’t give the enemy an inch of control over the negative emotions of your groups. Don't put a tragic story in the middle of your event. Keep your stories and testimonies pushing the happy button.

d. Positive events don’t publish financial information on the screens or in the program folder. Your fundraising banquet is a celebration of your effective ministry. It is not a time for people to figure out what they think your ministry should cost to run. You don’t need a pie chart that breaks down ministry funds from operating expenses! You are a ministry. Your lights, your rent, your postage make ministry happen. It is all ministry ... even your fundraising. Wise board members have already chosen to give their personal donations to a special operational fund so that they can truly say that every dollar raised at your event goes directly to ministry. See if your board is not doing this for more information. And FYI, successful boards are bringing in 50% of the income before any fundraising events are even scheduled.

e. Positive uplifting speakers deliver the most money in tough economic times. Make sure your speaker is giving a presentation that nobody would be afraid to let their neighbor or their grandmother see. Comedy is risky. Everyone has their own line of what is too funny or too over the edge. If your comedian is too funny you risk alienation of older and conservative audience members. You never pick a comedian that would appeal to your students, you pick one that will appeal to your donor demographic. The comedian / speaker you pick needs to be as positive as your event. The world is being bombarded with negative headlines, they need to keep it light and you will be financially rewarded.

QUESTIONS the  3 Keys  might have brought to your mind...

What do you fill your program folder with if not the financial information? Good question. How about testimonials from clients and from supporters who love you? Now there’s a good support encouraging idea. See the examples below:

“The way I see it, YFC is our last chance to reach and change the next generation.” -MGW

“Supporting YFC allows me to know that unchurched students are hearing the good news of Jesus Christ.” -SLS

“Thank you for reaching my son for Christ.” -SDL

Do you print an order in your simple program? Good question. Why is it needed? Are there people who would leave if you didn’t have one? If you ever have to change a printed order you appear un-prepared. If your Invocation Prayer Pastor does not show up, who is any wiser? Remember you are judged by your ability to do this banquet well.

How do I keep an emcee from rambling on and on? Good question. Duct tape! The men will thank you for it. Why have an emcee? Just have each presenter introduce themselves give their presentation and introduce the next speaker with one simple line. If a person doesn’t know your guest speaker, telling them won’t help!

For example: “Hello, my name is Mark Wilson, Please bow for prayer... (the prayer) ... Please welcome our guest speaker, Mr. Ken Davs!”


People love to play, and auctions are one of these games. I can give you hard evidence on this one. But how do we play? Does a game winner need to make the others a non-winner? Here is an idea. Instead of a silent auction (game that people play), make your auction items as ticketed drawings... give-a-ways. Everyone who comes through the doors gets a ticket and a chance to win (equal for blue or white collar). Limit the winners to one per household. Now draw for the winners of the special gifts after the program is over, this keeps everyone in the room. Now EVERYONE has a chance to win! People are going to give you money anyway, why clutter the program with givers who get something and givers who don't? You tell me. Why should Dr. Smith get  a 4000 dollar condo on the beach for his one time gift of 1000 dollars and another person who gives you 100 a month (1200 yearly) get a nice thank you card? What segregations are you creating? Think about it. How would you feel?
Website Builder