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Aye Aye Captain!

Table captains are integral to the success of a nonprofit organization’s Fundraising Breakfast, Gala or Benefit Dinner. The term table captain was borrowed from nautical terms and became a fundraising term when organizations realized the importance of having someone at the “helm” of each table at the event.  Here’s a six-step process for preparing your table captains to take the helm of their table.

1. Identify potential table captains

Identify donors who frequently give time or money to your organization. Your board members should also be at the top of your list for table captains. Finally, identify individuals in the community who’ve expressed interest in your organization’s mission and vision and add them to your list.

2. Make the ask

Communicate with each of these individuals how much you value their involvement and how their support as a table captain will make a positive impact on the organization’s fundraising event. Invite the individuals to share their passion and support of the organization with their community and connections.Provide all necessary information

3. Provide all necessary information

Once you have confirmed your table captains, create a table captain packet. The packet should include a timeline for table captain duties, a step-by-step guide on how to ask guests to attend and templates for correspondence with their potential guests. Make it easy for your table captains to register themselves and their guests for the event. Remind them that in order to fill a table of 10, they may have to invite 25-30 people. Ask table captains to make it very clear to guests that the event is a fundraiser and there will be an opportunity to make a donation at the event.

4. Follow-up continuously 

Communicate with your table captains on a weekly basis leading up to the event. Recap important key details such as how to register, when to arrive and how to engage their guests at the event. Offer encouragement and support.

5. At the event

Have your table captains arrive early to greet their guests. Provide them with talking points about your organization and mission so they can engage their guests about the organization . If you are having an event with envelopes on the table, then you will likely have a table captain packet that table captains will need to sign out and sign back in with all donations.

6. Post event

Provide your table captains with sample thank you emails and suggestions for when to send them. Be sure to include your table captains in the event debrief for their feedback on the event. In addition, gather from them the feedback they have received from their guests; often, a guest will give feedback to the person who invited them and not contact the organization directly.

Follow this six-step table captain process and you’ll increase the likelihood of fundraising success. If you need assistance on setting up a successful table captain process, connect with us so we can support you every step of the way.


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