By Dr. Steve Juaire
Contributor, Sports and Fitness Network
As I both participate and observe fundraising efforts, one key component of success is frequently missing, that is, the identification and inclusion of individuals who can persuade nearly any community person to donate and spend, i.e. the Queen Bee.
I often reflect on the early days of my athletic administration career when we were rebuilding our booster organization and establishing our policies and procedures for all fund raising efforts. My good friend, who was our current men’s basketball coach and former successful division one coach said, “Steve, you have a great deal of Worker Bees, but no Queen Bees.” The Queen Bees are those individuals who may donate themselves, but more importantly, can approach powerful, wealthy, connected individuals in our community and successfully “request” their participation.
At the time, we had nurtured strong relationships with several alumni and dedicated community servants. These individuals worked tirelessly on committees and provided much needed individual efforts to organize very worthwhile fundraising events. Let’s use our first auction as an example.
After fundraising goals were established, and I had spent more than a year nurturing relationships, a committee made up of both alumni and local citizens began the process of reaching out to a variety of individuals, asking for their donations and participation in the buying component of the auction as well. After months of networking efforts, we acquired enough items for both a silent and public auction to raise approximately $15,000.00., which was, at that time, essentially the value of two scholarships. On one-hand, we were satisfied with our efforts to establish a meaningful event, yet felt that we all had expended a great deal of effort for a somewhat modest return. Recognizing that this was auction #1, we applied learning from this event, including feedback from the participants, and began the planning efforts for auction #2.
It was at this point that my friend made the remark about Queen Bees and Worker Bees. We had about 30 dedicated and extremely hard working Worker Bees, but no Queen Bees: no individuals who were well connected with the corporate and other wealth related industries. Until we nurtured Queen Bees, our significant efforts would produce a nice fundraiser, with very modest growth, because of learning and tradition, but no “home run”, nor, very little chance of growing to a level needed by scholarship and other financial demands of the institution. Today, I see this same pattern repeated over and over, as dedicated individuals struggle with creating events whose monetary success approaches the sacrifice of time and effort.
Our answer was to aggressively nurture Queen Bees as we prepared for our second auction effort. This strategy, combined with our Worker Bee efforts saw the auction grow by more than five-fold over a three year period.
As a component of athletic fundraising success, I encourage you to identify those individuals who, when they approach others in your community, more often than not, receive a yes response to giving and participation. Identify your Queen Bees as early as possible!