OrangeTheory musings that actually relate to your fundraising right now

June 26, 2019

These days, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, you’ll find me in the middle of an OrangeTheory class.

I’ve been curious about the workout that’s taking the country by storm ever since a friend of mine used it to get in shape for her wedding (and did she ever!).  My usual workouts hadn’t been cutting it anymore, and over the past few months, I’d packed on a few extra pounds. I knew that I had to do something now, especially with the warmer months right around the corner!

Orangetheory Fitness offers group personal training workouts based on High-Intensity Interval Training that blend cardiovascular and strength training.

So when a studio opened up within walking distance, I saw a solution on the horizon. I mustered up the courage to sign up for my first free class. And now, every few days, for roughly an hour, I endure a grueling mishmash of running, rowing, weights and core work. I love it. Who would have thought?

I signed up for a membership and I’m well on my way. How do I know? Because I’ve paid for it. And because I’ve made a commitment to the process.

Let’s be real. Any workout works when you actually DO it.

I’ve got a confession to make. My Planet Fitness experience, which happened before I took the OrangeTheory plunge, didn’t exactly go as planned. I signed up for the basic membership a couple of years ago, which costs me $10 a month. I wound up visiting this gym intermittently. Sometimes, weeks would pass when I wouldn’t go at all. Other times, I’d drop in three times a week, or even four, but those instances were few and far between. Planet Fitness is a bare-bones gym, but it’s enough.

That didn’t matter, though. The $10 I spent on a monthly membership did not translate to a smart investment for yours truly. I barely noticed the $10 leaving my account each month. And I know for a fact that a lot of people sign up for Planet Fitness and either go rarely or don’t go at all. Their intentions are good, and they want to take advantage of the cheap cost, but then life gets in the way. And they find it’s easier to let life get in the way, because they’re sacrificing very little, and therefore never really made the commitment.

It’s only $10 a month. But is that the only cost? For me, it wasn’t. I was settling for cheap and not doing the work. I made excuses, rather than looking for something that was actually right for me. Planet Fitness is right for a lot of folks, and it can be super convenient, too.

OrangeTheory is right for me. My whole gym experience and the wisdom that I’ve gained from it made me think of you. Here’s why.

One of the questions I’ve been asked the most over the years is, “Pam, what do you think of the Benevon model?”

The Benevon Model bills itself as “a mission-centered, four-step, circular process for raising sustainable funding and major gifts from individual donors.” The program is essentially a rigid system of small *house party* style events, culminating in one big *ask* event every year.

My answer to the Benevon question is…complicated.

You see, I participated in the Benevon program early on in my fundraising career. An affiliate organization that I was working with was offered the program, free of charge. Naturally, they jumped at the opportunity. My training consisted of two full days of exercises, alongside our executive director and a few board members. The system is followed up with a year of personal phone coaching from one of the dedicated Benevon coaches.

There’s no big mystery once the velvet curtains are pulled aside. You’ll encounter many of the same exercises found inside my own Empowering Your Fundraising Board class. The greatest lesson for me was the power of emotional storytelling, which plays a strong role in the Benevon model, and the Point of Entry events as a way for board members to begin the cultivation process.

Benevon has its drawbacks, though, including a continued focus on transactional versus relational. You’ll definitely get your data in order. Unfortunately, donors are still thought of as ATM machines. As Nell Edgington notes in 5 Fundraising Delusions Nonprofits Suffer, Benevon buys into the myth that major donors can be recruited en masse when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Benevon is also heavily events-based, which we all know can be utterly exhausting.

Benevon can boast a high success rate. But it’s an extremely costly option, especially for a small nonprofit. And I suspect that Benevon’s MEGA high pricing plays a primary role in the success of the program. After all, once you’ve put that kind of money on the line, you’ve got skin in the game. In other words, you can’t fail. Am I right? But buy a $97 online training that offers free enrollment for your entire board? Well, there’s not quite so much on the line when you fail to follow through.

It’s like OrangeTheory, you know? I’m not blowing off workouts anymore, because I’m not paying $10 anymore, like at Planet Fitness. Instead, I’m paying considerably more per class, and that keeps me motivated and on the right track, even when I wake up with a scathing headache. These days, I’m far more inclined to stay consistent with my workouts. I take advantage of the classes and all they have to offer.

I work it, dammit.

Donor-centered fundraising works when you work it. So are you? If you’ve made a commitment to stewardship and donor communications, and you’re putting in the work and effort to perfect those systems, chances are, you know exactly where I’m coming from.

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