Want to increase giving? Consider Table Ambassadors!

About six weeks ago I attended a benefit whose mission I get very excited about. My husband has been the auctioneer for this event for many years, and we both love advancing a program that supports single mothers with affordable housing, on-site daycare, educational opportunities, and eventually with assistance securing sustainable employment. I mean, who can’t get behind that?

Our table was up near the stage and Kurt and I were seated next to some of the key event staff. But, seated right next to me was a lovely young lady with whom I struck up a conversation. I asked her how she was connected to the nonprofit. She smiled broadly and shared that she was a graduate of the program. Our conversation was candid. She told me that she became pregnant early in her life, that she hung with a bad crowd, and that she was too often in trouble because of substance abuse.

Her family was forgiving, but worn out and not skilled in providing the tough answers she needed to get her life on track for herself and her daughter. She went online, searched a bit and then found this program. Then her voice changed a little, cracking a bit as she shared how the program had changed her life. She found a safe place to live; learn; grow as a responsible adult; find gainful employment; and make a positive home for her family. I was entranced by her story, the feeling with which she shared it, and the very obvious success story she represented.

Do you think I was just a bit more motivated when it came time for the Fund-a-Need? I certainly was! But what came next moved me to go even bigger with my gift. My husband progressed through the Fund-a-Need to a level where my new friend, one of the nonprofit’s bright young graduates raised her hand and gave a significant gift. The single mom was paying it forward and I was terribly moved. I matched her at her gift amount, running to my husband and asking him to say that my gift was in honor of the young lady at our table. He did—and she cried—and I cried. And then we laughed!

I thought to myself, if every table had one Ambassador to speak to their passion for their nonprofit's cause—as a program recipient, a volunteer, a Board or committee member, how might that impact giving at that table? …I like the odds!