PENNIES. Most folks wouldn’t bother to stop and pick one up off the ground, but the Gift Shop cashiers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX grab every penny they can get!
When we visited the gift shop, the cashier – let’s call her Sally — asked us if we’d like to round up our donation, explaining that the funds would support the Wildflower Center. We said yes (of course)! My friend rounded up her donation by $0.32. I rounded up mine by $0.48. It may not sound like much, but in total, they raised an extra $0.80 in less than 5 minutes. Multiply that times thousands of people who visit the gift shop each year, and now you’re talking money!
When we were done with our purchases, I told Sally I’m a professional fundraiser and asked how she felt about the program. She explained that at first, she was nervous, because she was afraid about “being pushy,” but as time went on and she saw how many people said “yes” without hesitation, she felt more comfortable and confident asking people to contribute. It also gives her a chance to chat with and connect with people, which is something she loves to do!
Sally went on to say that when she read the monthly reports provided by the development department, her pride swelled! She felt like she was making a real difference for an organization she loves, just by asking people to round up their purchase. Sally now LOVES asking people for money!
The folks at the Wildflower Center were reluctant to share the details of the program, but here’s what I was able to find:
Each year, the Wildflower Center is visited by more than 200,000 guests. The “round it up” program started a few years ago, before the pandemic.
The current budget of the Wildflower Center is over $6M.
As of 2015, their site-based income – comprised of admissions, store sales, facility rentals and plant sales – brought in $1.67M. It’s safe to assume that this figure has increased, and that the “round it up” strategy has enhanced the Center’s bottom line.
This goes to show that small change — pennies, nickels and dimes – can add up to a big difference!
NOW – the one thing I’d add to the program is a way to collect people’s emails, so you can follow up with them! Why let a donor walk out the door without any way to reconnect with them?
Where might you be missing out on opportunities to round up more money for your organization? Connect with folks who care about what you’re doing? Follow up with people who’ve already contributed?
And how can I help you get there?
If you’ve got a question, I’m here to help!
Yours in service,