There are comedians... and there a fundraising comedians...

It is time you had the right match for your fundraiser, and raised the money you know is in the room. 

Let's do this right!

Let's get real... THIS IS A FUNDRAISER!

A few references...

This material is the best Comedy Cafe prep guide I know of. Mike Williams not only has material that works, he has a brain that works and a heart of gold. Use it and be blessed! 

-Ken Davis

WOW! Every YFC Director needs to read this! -Gary Grecco, YFC Director, Hampstead, MD

Mike Williams is an expert on creating a mission-focused Comedy Cafe' that focuses on engaging donors. His genuine heart to serve and equip others is evident through the "tips" he provides here . . . use them. -Mike McAuliff, Executive Director - Metro Atlanta YFC

Mike understands YFC and the purpose of our banquets and comedy clubs (to raise money), and most importantly he loves God and his kids who we serve.  Mike was one of our best banquet fund-raising speakers we’ve ever had.  He not only delivered for us that evening, but his fund-raising coaching advice prior to the event was crucial to our success. -Brian Muchmore, Seattle Metro YFC. 

More references at

A small but valuable difference

I can give you a list of guys funnier than myself. What I bring to the table is a history of over 700 successful fundraising events. Comedy is great, but comedy that knows how to motivate people to give... is greater. You have a two questions to answer. Are you doing a fundraiser or a comedy night? Do you need to to laugh, or do you need to laugh and make a lot of money?  My 2017 stats average $437 from every attender at a fundrasing event.

Read more about my comedy side at

My life so far...

This child from a broken street family, brothers both killed at seventeen, was adopted by a couple who were para-church ministry youth volunteers. I got to see the heart of your people. The whole story will leave your audience crying and laughing and thrilled to give monthly support to your organization.

I have served YFC, FCA, CREW, and Young Life events for many years. After the "ME" promo is the material you need to know to do a [profitable] Comedy Cafe.  Use me or not... please use it. It will help you reach your potential. See... I'm not just another funny voice... I really do care. I have written three complete books to help non-profits be profitable. I can help you.

People don't give because you have a need... they give because you meet a need and they want to be a significant part of that success... they want to be a hero. Let me teach you how to put that narrative into your event.

Now read the COMEDY FUNDRAISER CHECKLIST to learn what you need to have a profitable comedy fundraiser.


#1 The foundation of funding

Perception!   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?

#2 Timing is everything

"8:45  is  the  new 9:00!"   It is not rocket science to know that if you are going to find support from those with school aged kids aged children you are going to have to be out of your Comedy Cafe by 8:45. This means that you need to fit it "ALL" into a short well crafted package. Don't worry, you can do it, and do it right. Let's look at a successful Comedy Cafe outline.

A great alternative and parallel option is to provide child care. Can the church you are hosting your event at provide child care workers? Consider the options. Simply because you provide child care does not mean that your event can go past 8:45. Keep them wanting a little more...

Remember that it is a Comedy Cafe. We need to keep it light hearted and fun. But fun needs to be on the level of the adult donor and not the students. There should be no potty humor. Tonight our audience is adult. By setting an age suggestion on your tickets you will decrease the number of students filling donor chairs. Your ticket might include, "This Comedy Cafe is designed as to be a Christian adult event although everyone is welcome. Suggested ages 18+". Adults want to come to adult events. Don't exclude students, but push the adult button as much as possible.


6:30p Doors open / Music is playing and trivia videos are running. Remember that the music playing is music that is in the style of the donors, not your students. Personally, the best music track I have heard thus far was an all instrumental version of Disney classics. It made everyone feel happy and uplifted.Coffee bars and dessert tables are open and ready. During this time EVERY staff member is walking the room and meeting everyone they possible can. Each one has been assigned a specific bit of information they need to ask of each person. This avoids redundant conversation. People like to talk about themselves. Let them. This is a time for your staff to ask the questions. Use your trivia video questions to highlight your sponsors. "This question brought to you by Banner Tire Stores." Get that long list of sponsors out of your program. It can make you look like you have too many sponsors to need help.

6:45P Audience is reminded where the locations of the restrooms are and that the program will start proptly at 7:00. Audience is reminded to sign up for the drawing for the "Comedians give-a-way" package at the back table. All we need is their name and email. Winner will be notified by email.

6:50 Former announcement repeated

6:55 Former announcement repeated

6:59 Countdown Video plays

7:00 (Local influential Pastor takes stage to welcome guests and offer prayer of thanksgiving for the food already consumed. Pastor is NOT to mention fundraising. Behind him will stand the YFC Director, his spouse, and all of the YFC Staff and Volunteers. Pastor then introduces YFC Area Director and exits the stage.

7:04 Director will quickly introduce each person with a professional yet somewhat fun protocol. "On my right, originally from Little Rock Arkansas, facilitating our Campus life Club in Parkway Middle school, and Cedar Ridge Middle School is Mr. Morton Plant. (Wait for applause) Next to him is our newest YFC staffer, a recent graduate of Wheaton College, please welcome Tracy Bird...." (and the introductions continue until all are introduced and return to their seats as a group.) "In the audience tonight we have our wonderful board members who give us oversight and direction. Would they please stand? Give them all a hand..."

7:10 "My Name is Rocky Smith and It is my great privilege to be your YFC / Campus Life Director here in Polk County. We are glad you are here. You are going to laugh, and we hope you will also be inspired. Please watch the screen for a special message from our national President Dan Wolgemuth."

7:15 Video plays / Director remains at podium.

7:20 Director "I want to introduce to you a few of your YFC students to give us all a little better understanding of your YFC/ Campus Life program."

7:21 Students will come and read their part in your YFC Story or this will be done via video. What these students say is possibly the most important part of your event. Tab #4 will help you make this perfect.

7:27 Director gives you His own YFC PIXAR Presentation. "It was in the mid 1800's that secular society began to systematically remove God from the lives of students..." (see #4 Testimony tab for more)

7:29 Director introduces guest with as few words as possible. "Our guest is heard each day on SeriusXM Satellite radio. He has written six books. His latest in entitled, 4 out of 5 Dentist are doing 80% of the Dental work... and that's too much. He has a passion for Christ and a mind for hilarity. Please welcome... Marty Long..."

7:30 Comedy (Somewhere in the first two minutes the comedian must let the audience know that he / she is a committed Christian. This will put any skeptical audience member at ease.

8:25 Comedian shares why he/she believes in the work of YFC. Basically... "YFC is the only ministry still going into the public school arena with a clear message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not a ministry that needs to survive, this is a ministry that needs to thrive!"

8:27 The ASK is given by the comedian or the Director. (see #5 tab)

8:35 Donor cards distributed, completed, and received

8:40 Comedian is asked to explain the CD's he has at the table (this must be done after the ask.)

8:42 Closing Prayer (Local Pastor or Board Member)

(Board, staff, and Director stand at exit doors to thank attenders)

#3 Say It Right This Time

You only have one shot here...

How are you telling your story?

Many para-church groups make a great a mistake in not knowing how to articulate their work or how to properly equip others to articulate their work. The biggest mistake that banquets and Comedy Cafe's make is asking people to share their testimony. What? Those testimonies encourage  people! Those testimonies move people! Yes, and sometimes they discourage people! And sometimes they move people to stop supporting. Follow my logic for just a minute. Stop asking people to share "Their" testimony and start asking people to help you tell "Your" story. Their is a big difference. When you ask for "Their" story you have to almost take what they give you. But when you ask a person to be a part of sharing "Your" story you can give them quality script that brings their part into harmony with the message that you need to send. Plus they will really receive much better accolades from a well crafted testimony of how your organization changed their life. (We will use YFC/Youth For Christ in our sample narratives.)

Whose fundraiser is this, your organizations or the testimony giver's? If it is their's then by all means let them tell their story. If it is yours, it is your responsibility to tell "Your" story and tell it right. Don't worry, we are going to help you tell it right. Telling your story through other people is much less painful than you think. Your financial response is going to be much - much beter.

In my book How To Fearlessly & Successfully Ask For Money we teach how to tell a story. Look at this example using a great Pixar movie as our subject.

Once upon a time... there was a fish named Marlin, a widower who was very protective of his only son, Nemo...
Every Day... Marlin repeatedly warned Nemo about the dangers of the ocean and warned him not to stray far from home...
One day... in an act of independence, Nemo ignored those warnings and swam out into the open water...
Because of that... Marlin sets off on a rescue mission, receiving the help of other sea creatures along the way... (Sometimes the “Because of that” will be up to four lines with the same intro.)
Until finally... Marlin and Nemo reunite, celebrate, and reminisce in lessons well learned...

Wow, that was simple. Wow, that was powerful too. Let's take that student testimony from last year and put it through the FIVE LINE funnel using the following outline that will work for any and every story with little exceptions. It may seem short, but remember that we are going for impact not length. People only remember so much. The less you say, the more they truly remember and understand.

Create Your Story Outline

Once upon a time___________________________________________________________...

Every month_______________________________________________________________...

One day__________________________________________________________________...

Because of that,____________________________________________________________...

Until Finally,_______________________________________________________________...

Thank you, ______________________________________ (We add the thank you line because this is a donor response required testimony.)

What if you had your clients give their testimony at your next banquet with this outline? Could it shorten the time and increase the effectiveness? YES, and YES!

Sample  Student  (testimony)  Story

Once upon a time line... (I was 16, living in an alcoholic & drug abusive family. Everything you could imagine went on under my roof. There was no safety that a student needs...)

Every day line... (I often laid in my bed at night and considered suicide. I started using drugs and alcohol. I was running with the wrong crowd. I was out of control. It was all I knew...)

One day/month line... (It was on a Tuesday that Steve from YFC saw me in the hall and invited me to Campus Life Club. He said there was free pizza. Our cafeteria food is horrible so I went....)

Because of that line... (At that meeting I met people who loved me and wanted the best for my life...)

Because of that line... (I realized that I was loved by God. And that Jesus gave His life so that I could be born again to a new life and new family...)

Because of that line... (Because of that, after a few weeks I prayed to receive Christ into my heart...)

Until Finally line... (My life is so different now. I am a new person. Like it says in Jeremiah 29, I have a hope and a future...)

Thank you line... (Tonight I stand here grateful for you who have provided the YFC Campus Life Club at Hopewell High School. I'm thankful for the new life-skills that you are providing provided me with through the mentoring of the YFC staff. My life is totally transformed. Thank you...)

That was simple now wasn't it? You do not need gory details. Look at Jesus story of the prodigal Son. Maybe Pixar took the outline from there! Jesus told the story, yet summed the graphic details into the fewest possible words. If we don't like the FIVE LINE outline, we can at least follow the Jesus outline.

You can use this outline to tell every story. The basic details will change, but you will tell different stories in a way that your donors will be able to process them. Your Comedy Cafe or banquet is about the donors perception first and foremost.

Do you have a FIVE LINE story?

What are you going to say in the 30 seconds you will have to hook a potential Pastor before he is distracted by something else? Having your own Pixar story will be of great benefit to your organization and you personally. Sometimes you only have 30 seconds to turn a potential donor on, or they will wander away. Are you ready to do that? Here is a quick test to see if you are personally ready. You have 30 seconds, tell me the story of your work... Go... start now... (the clock is ticking). If you could not do it, you are not alone. Out of 30, usually only one Director can do it with any degree of clarity. The ones that can are poised for success. Let's get you ready for that. If you are also raising support for yourself it would behoove you to have a FIVE LINE presentation for your own story as well.

The outline below shows an example of how your organization  might create a FIVE LINE story for your ministry. I would hope that every staff and board member would have it memorized and ready to present at a moments notice. If I were in charge, I would make it mandatory.


Over 100 years ago, public schools began to teach children that they were descendents of ape's, and thus nothing more than educated animals. By the mid 60's the Bible and prayer was eliminated from our public school system. The result of that can be easily seen in the skyrocketing rates of Suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted deceases among our students.

In the 1940's a group of people joined together to form Youth For Christ to reach the youth of America, and in 1963, Dr. Billy Graham stepped up to be YFC's first employed staff member. We have a great heritage...

Because of that, today there are 160 YFC Chapters across the country impacting thousands of schools, including the ones right here in Tuscaloosa, AL...

Because of that, some 6000 students are receiving Biblical alternatives to the tide of secular humanism they are being taught every day. Through the Campus Life clubs, we are able to proclaim that life changing message right inside of the Public Schools. Considering that 80% of those who make decisions for Christ do that before they are 18, it is only natural that our evangelism efforts should be focused in this area...

Because of that, Student's lives are being transformed by the power of the gospel. Through our Juvenile Justice program we are able to touch the lives that have completely spiraled out of control...

By the favor of God, Youth for Christ is reaching where many others have given up. Youth for Christ is where you can invest your resources to see genuine impact for the kingdom of God and the betterment of today's young people. You can reach students for Christ...

Until you can tell your story quickly and efficiently nobody is going to want to hear it!

How would this FIVE LINE presentation change for a personal staff member to use for their own personal presentation for funds to their own local church or possible supporters? Let me suggest the following...

Sample Staff Personal Fundraising  Outline

Over one hundred years ago public schools began to teach children that they were descendents of ape's, and thus nothing more than educated animals. By the mid 60's the Bible and prayer was eliminated from our public school system. The result of that can be easily seen in the skyrocketing rates of Suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and sexually transmitted deceases among our student population. Atheism and secular humanism has become the national religion.

One day a group of people joined together to form Youth For Christ, and Dr. Billy Graham stepped up to be our first paid staff member. We have a great heritage...

Today I am on staff with the Tuscalosa YFC. We are part of the 160 YFC Chapters across the country impacting thousands of schools...

Because of that, right here in Tuscalosa, 6000 students are receiving Biblical alternatives to the tide of secular humanism they are being taught every day. Through the Campus Life clubs, we are able to proclaim that life changing message right inside of the Public Schools. Considering that 80% of those who make decisions for Christ do that before they are 18, it is only natural that our evangelism efforts should be focused in this area...
Because of that, Student's lives are being transformed by the power of the gospel. Through our Juvenile Justice program we are able to touch the lives that have completely spiraled out of control...

By the favor of God, Youth for Christ / Campus Life is reaching where many others have given up. Youth for Christ is where you can invest to see genuine impact for the kingdom of God and the betterment of today's young people...

As a staff member I raise my own support to make this evangelistic work happen. I become the extension ministry of people who would love to reach today's youth. I become their missionary to the students of America. Would you be willing to choose me to be your missionary to this generation? What questions do you have about my work?....


Now there you have a rough draft. See what you can do. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Follow the outline. Fight the desire to tell intricate stories in this presentation. This is not a sermon, this is a quick way for you to introduce yourself to people and get them to ask you questions. It needs to be presentable in less than 60 seconds!

#4 Success is in the final details


Undeniably the "ask" is the most important part of the night. Handled well will leave everyone excited about your event and you well compensated. Handled poorly will leave you trying to find an all new audience for your next event. Remember it is the "ask" and not the "beg". The "ask" needs to be simple and to the point. It needs to call for total participation without putting people on the spot. The "ask" is a dance of strategic step. Let me give you a short version sample of what this comedian's "ask" personal might sound like. This of course would be done after I shared my testimony and my personal connection to YFC. It would be done after I explained why I personally believe wholeheartedly in the ministry of YFC. I mention that because like your student testimonies, your comic's story is only valid in that it connects to your ministry. Don't let your comic off the hook in regards to connectedness with your ministry. Do they have connection to youth ministry? YFC? Are they supporters of YFC in their local town?

"Tonight I am going to ask you join me in supporting YFC. Not because of this Comedy Cafe, but because we need YFC. This Director and this most excellent are our missionaries to the public school arena. They are our hands extended to the students of today. They are the last bastion of Christianity in the public school arena. This ministry does not need to survive... THEY NEED TO THRIVE! We need them to reach the next generation. In just a minute I'm going to ask you to pray and ask God how he would allow you to sponsor tonight. Their is no pressure form me or the organization, just a simple request to pray. Pray and ask God what he would allow you to give. I say "allow" because it is a privilege to support this great work. I want you to simply ask God for permission to give in two areas. First, and most importantly a monthly gift. Whether that five dollars or fifty dollars, a monthly gift allows you to connect to the ministry and it keeps you informed as to what they are doing with your gift every month. Secondly would you pray about an additional one time gift to support the HSP Initiative (or whatever special project your chapter needs immediate assistance in)? On a good note we do not need a check tonight, some of you might need 90 days. That is okay. Tonight we only need to know what God lays upon your heart. Let's go to prayer, and you ask God for permission to support in those two ways tonight... let's pray."  (Mike G. Williams)

Now pray, and stop to give them a chance to pray. Give them 30 full seconds of total silence. No background music! Finish the prayer and ask them to reach into the envelope on the table and take out a response card. Give them all the needed response information, verbally reading through the entire sheet. remind them that they do not need to have a check "tonight" to give. They do need to let the YFC chapter know tonight what their gift amount will be tonight.

Choose your voice

 How do we choose a Comedian? You chose the same way you plan your banquet, strategically. A Comedy Cafe - fun-fundraisier is not the same as a comedy concert. Your goal is funding first, and also great comedy. Ken Davis once told me to be less funny at certain events. That information has translated into millions of dollars raised for non-profits across the country. Pick a comedian whose comedy appeals to the adult audience. Your financial supporters. What is the median age of your supporters? 45? 50? 55? 16? Pick a comedian who will appeal to your current donor age demographic. Pick a comedian who knows how to do a fundraiser. Pick a comedian who knows how to dress for a fundraiser. Your event, though titled Comedy Cafe, is a fundraiser. Your comedian needs to be dressed a little better than your audience. Let's just say... Suit and tie is very acceptable. The same way you are going to be dressed for success. Right? People give larger amounts to those who have appearance of mature authority. Fundraising guru's will tell you that clothing controls the room. Take control and make sure your number one voices, your Director and your comedian, represents trust, integrity, and character in their dress. Remove all piercings before hitting your stage. Play to the audience you are in front of. This goes for your staff as well. They need to understand they represent your serious work at any public event.

Comedian Requirements   You need to have a performance guaranty from your comic. He needs to fully understand that this is a fundraisier. His job is to make people laugh and give. His job is to tie his testimony into what you do. His job is to be a passionate advocate for you. Can he/she make you look as good as they make their self look? They better! He (or she) needs to do the homework on the YFC programs, organization, and lingo. They would have to do that for any corporate show in America, don't let them short change your ministry. Place in your contract with them a dress requirement. They need to know that this is YFC but, this event is adult. Their humor is not to be overtly edgy, it is to be inclusive of everyone in the audience. Some comics believe that edgy makes them funnier. It may, but as Ken Davis says, "Some events require you to be a little less funny." Ken has worked successfully with YFC for decades. You know that. Trust him on this one. Your ministry will be judged by your comedians words as much as by yours.

Star Power?   It is not necessary for your comedian to be famous. Let's be honest, your event is designed first to bring your supporters and their friends to an event about you. Don't revolve it around a famous personality. The famous personalities are famous for not being able to turn their fans into your fans, and thus costing you lots of money. Find a good comic and use short (30 second) clips form their YouTube videos to promote your event. Don't overdo the video clips. We want people to want more. Tease a perspective audience, don't taunt them! The best events are ones that center around YFC with the comedian being the icing on the cake. As you consistently produce great Comedy Cafes, people will turn out for your event no matter who you have. They will come to trust your comic judgement.

Comedians to Consider

This list is not meant to be all inclusive of worthy comedians. It is however a list of comedians who at present have worked through the fundraising process with the editors of this website. They understand the reason for your event. They understand that they are a key part of a master event, and not the whole show. They understand the importance of the ask. They are committed fort to the success of your event, and then that of themselves. They know their role and are capable of fulfilling it.

Ken Davis Ken is a former YFC Director who knows how to speak to an audience. His ministry spans generations and his effectiveness is without question. Ken is the creative brain behind the Dynamic Communicator Workshop and The Summit. You cannot go wrong with Ken Davis.

Mike Williams  Mike is the fundraising comedy guru. His ministry raises millions of dollars a year for para-church organizations around the country. He is the author of The Fundraising Banquet Guide and most repeatedly booked fundraising comic in the country. Mike appears at over 60 comedy fundraisers a year. 

Gordon Douglas  Gordon has proved himself in the fundraising market many times over. If your audience is 40 to 60 it would be hard to find someone more capable in securing you dollars than Gordon Douglas. Gordon knows how to ask for money in a clear and powerful way. His lovable demeanor will make you money.

Paul Aldrich   Paul is a musical comedian for every generation. His material is very-very witty, and his hilarious songs will have everyone cheering for more. Paul knows how to connect with an audience. Paul is the comic that other comedians admire and look up to.

Bean & Bailey    This comedy duo has taken the youth market by storm. They also have the great ability to connect with adult crowds. These guys take their craft seriously and their responsibility to earn you money. Give them a chance and see how their hilarity can translate into strong donors.

Rich Praytor   Rich is the guy everyone loves to love. His clean intelligent style make for a great evening for everyone. His understanding of business give you the edge in asking for large gifts. You are going to love his work and love your donations.

John banyan   When it comes to brilliant, they don't get any more humorously brilliant. Is he a comedian, a theologian, or a geek? Maybe all of the above. But he understands the mechanics of a fundraiser. Give him a try. And he owns a real good suit!

Justin Fennell  Justin is one of those guys who knows how to motivate an audience to give. Many organizations around the country use him to attain fantastic giving numbers with great humor attached. He raises money for large corporate events all over the country. He also owns a good suit.

All the rest... There is no shortage of Christian comics out there. There is however a shortage of comics who know how to do a fundraiser. Find one with good references. Call those references. Ask for a list of the last four places they have played. This will tell you how busy they really are by the dates of the events, and it will let you hear first hand about their experience. Agents will lead you on. A good demo can be made by anyone. Ask some other Directors before you sign a contract. 

Board Member Telephones

The  Phone ... The Phone   Nothing beats personal contact. Every staff member and board member needs to give you some predetermined hours of phone promotion for this event. A board member who cannot give you four hours of time is a liability and not an asset. Get your people on the phone. Call every donor at least twice! Ask for a commitment.

Set up the room right.

Plan for intimacy in room set up. Put the sound system to the side of the stage. This is comedy not a concert requiring constant mixing and tinkering. Give the audience the best seats in the house, they are you honored guests. Shame on anyone for missing this. Don't let the equipment ever separate the audience from the platform. This is totally unacceptable. Move the audio and lighting to the side!

Put tables/chairs close to the stage. Comedy likes intimacy! Having the tables/chairs close to the stage gives you more room to fill the outside area with chairs if needed. It is much better to set up fewer tables and fill the front first. having to set up additional chairs only makes the event seem as if it is more popular. Adding chairs brings excitement, having empty chairs makes the event seem unattended. People want to go and be a part of what everyone else is being a part of. Does your empty chair count tell people that nobody came?

It is fundraising, not total comedy. Light the room for giving, not sleeping! Bright rooms deliver more money than dark rooms. I know you can brighten the room at the ask time, but changing the lights at ask time is not good. You never make dramatic room changes while asking for money. How would flipping on the lights change your mood in an intimate setting? think about it. Never flippantly play with an audiences emotions. Clear sound and bright stage lights are a must.


I will do well over 100 fundraising events this year. See to find out the details. There is a really good chance I could not do your event anyway. Whether you book me or not, I am always ready to give you a pointer or be an ear for an idea. Call me. I am a friend of your ministry. Mike Williams 863-670-1668