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Apply “Smart Style” to Fundraising

Apply “Smart Style” to Fundraising

January 27, 2015
Larry Griffin

As a snowboard instructor, I’m familiar with the “Smart Style” guidelines created by the National Ski Areas Association to help snowboarders and skiers be safe and have fun in freestyle terrain parks.

And as a fundraiser, I see the value in Smart Style’s points and how they can apply to fundraising. Those points include:

1. Make a plan
Before entering a terrain park, we determine what features to approach and what tricks to perform, then we review our plan next time around to avoid mistakes and put ourselves in the sweet spot for success. Fundraising goals should be identified in the strategic plan and then reviewed regularly.

2. Look before you leap

Before doing tricks in the terrain park, we check out the jumps and landings to be sure the conditions are in good shape. Some conditions to consider before starting any fundraising program include:

  • Is our board committed?
  • Do we have the staffing capacity?
  • Have we conducted a feasibility study for a capital campaign?
  • 3. Easy style it

    Olympic snowboarders make slope style tricks look easy. However, long before getting “big air” in the half pipe, they all began with “intro to first air.” Easy style it with your neophyte volunteers by:

  • Orienting them to your mission and case for support.
  • Giving them basic skills to make the first ask.
  • Going with them.
  • Coaching them through their first contact with a prospect.
  • 4. Respect gets respect

    Teen snowboarders can learn to be polite. So can you, especially when it comes to your volunteers. Here are some ways to treat them with the utmost respect.

  • Thank them for stepping up.
  • Make good use of their time.
  • Congratulate them for a job well done.
  • In fundraising, as on the slopes, certain guidelines will lead to successful outcomes — and fewer “wipes outs.”


    Larry Griffin

    Larry brings a strong background in nonprofit leadership and fundraising to Lighthouse Counsel. His 35-year career culminated in leadership as the senior vice president and COO of the Akron Area YMCA. He is an avid snowboarder and shares that passion as a certified snowboard instructor at a small resort in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.