Dads Make the Best Fundraising Superheroes
With Father’s Day upon us this weekend, there sure is a lot to thank dads for. I think about all the things my kids’ dad does for them. He really is Superman. He gets them dressed and feeds them breakfast in the morning and chauffeurs both of them to preschool and day care, while I battle the morning commute. By the time I come home from work, the kids have been picked up from school, lunches have been packed for the next day, and the kids’ dinner is on the table. Phew! The impact of fathers is often overshadowed by the powerful presence of mothers in the household, but most have a lot more to offer than even they know.
Recently, I had the luxury of speaking with Dean Crownover. Dean is not only a professional benefit auctioneer, but he is Dad to his five-year-old son, London. London will be starting kindergarten this fall and Dean has a pretty good idea how he can use his professional skills to help enrich his child’s education – school fundraising auctions. At BiddingForGood, about 40% of our clients are schools, and with education budget cuts on the rise, more schools are searching for alternative funds to support their programs. We often work with PTAs/PTOs that are comprised of predominately women, so you can imagine my delight when I spoke to Dean about the “male perspective of school fundraising.” Dean was kind enough to share insights on how he got involved with school fundraising and to offer advice to other Dads who would like to become more involved.
How Dean Got Started with School Fundraising:
A benefit auctioneer by trade, Dean’s wife volunteered him for the first auction at The Museum School of Avondale Estates in 2009. At that time, the school wasn’t even open yet and a fundraiser was needed to get things up and running. His wife, Amy, was not only on the fundraising committee, but was also a member of the founding board. Since this school had played such an important part in their lives since its inception, Dean was very happy to help. In 2010, he wanted to be more hands-on so he took his wife's place on the fundraising committee, a position he still fills today.
Dean Incorporates His Professional Experience into School Fundraising Auctions:
Because he specializes as a benefit auctioneer, Dean treats the school like a client. For the school, this means that they receive the best professional help available to improve their bottom line, including workshops, documents, and meetings that would otherwise come at a cost (lucky school!). As a side benefit, Dean gets to use the school as his guinea pig to apply new concepts. As he learns new best practices in the field of benefit auctioneering, he then applies them to the school to see how well they work. If they work, he is able to show his clients how to incorporate them and discover greater success. And Dean is on a roll – everything he has tried works like a charm (games, activities, streams of revenue, etc). The school has doubled their net every year so far!
Tips and Advice for Other Super Dads:
Dean is the only male on the fundraising committee and says, “This really surprises me. I’d like to see more dads seek out their fundraising committee chairs and volunteer to be on the team." He adds, “While being involved is a commitment, it is not one that is overwhelming.” Dean’s fundraising team meets once or twice a month leading up to the event, and weekly the month of the event. This sounds like a great way for Dads to get out of the house and meet other parents.
Being a committee member does have its advantages. For instance, Dean highlights participation in the food-sampling meeting when the caterer brings food selections to be taste-tested. Deans says, “Without a doubt, this is the most popular meeting!” At each meeting, there are often snacks and adult beverages to help them brainstorm.
The main tip Dean would like to offer other dads is: “Don't be afraid to voice your ideas. A male perspective is important.”
The Secret to a Successful Fundraising Event:
Dean’s secret for successful fundraising events is not to overlook the most popular item categories. Dean says his committee discusses all types of items and experiences, but they once overlooked a major category – electronics. He reminded the committee that while females are the majority of buyers at auctions, men like to shop, too. Having "manly" items like electronics help to keep the male bidders engaged at the event. Dean uses items such as iPads to lure in male participation and can often sell them over market value.
Father’s Day Traditions:
Father’s Day traditions can be fun to start and carry on. I asked Dean if he had any traditions and found he is starting a new one this year. Last year, he took up running and has since participated in a few 5K and 10K races. Now, he admits, “I'm slow and stink at the sport but my son sees my joy… and even likes cheering me on. He's even participated in some tiny, fun runs and loves it.” As a family they have all entered the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Possum Trot 10K & Fun Run, which is the Saturday before Father's Day. Dean will run the 10K and Amy and London will do the 1-mile Fun Run.
It’s Important for Parents to Get Involved:
Dean shares in my belief of the importance of “getting involved.” In his words, “Parents/dads should get involved for several reasons, but one of the biggest is that the stronger the committee, the better the bottom line. If a dad has ideas, or better, access to donations that can bring in big bucks, then that helps them reach their fundraising goal.” He adds, “For me, I know I only get one shot at being the best dad I can be. Being on our school's fundraising committee is another way I can serve my son by helping bring in funds for his school that will ultimately make his educational experience better. Plus, by seeing his dad and mom participating in various board and committee functions, we hope he is getting the message that helping your community is important. Hopefully this will stimulate him to get involved with his child's school if he decides to be a parent in the future.”
Special thanks to Dean Crownover for sharing his words of wisdom with us. We hope he and all the other Dads out there have a great Father’s Day!