There are basic, learned by kindergarten, principles that apply to fundraising. We often overcomplicate the path to successful fundraising. Here are a few tips that are guaranteed to help you leverage dollars:
ASK: If you don’t ask, you are guaranteed a “No”. Money and pledges rarely find you or the cause you represent; you must identify prospects and invite them to invest. The primary reason people don’t donate is because they are never asked.
GIVE: Whether you are a volunteer fundraiser or compensated professional staff, your own monetary investment is your testimony. Don’t ask others to do what you haven’t already done. You lead and inspire best with actions beyond words. You are in the best position to fundraise when you can invite others to join you in donating.
LISTEN: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. You can best tailor your ask when you stop talking long enough to hear the potential donor’s interests. Don’t be so focused on what you have to say (delivering that powerful and passionate “pitch”) that your prospect is overwhelmed and gets no air time. There is no “one size fits all” request for funding. Customize a pitch aligned with the donor’s values.
PARTNER: You maximize your chances to score when you partner to fundraise with a person who is a peer of your prospective donor. If you are staff, a board member who has given at a level commensurate with the level of your request, will leverage the best result.
PERSERVERE: Don’t give up. Every “no” gets you closer to a “yes”.
SHUT UP: When a donor agrees to give, be gracious; but don’t keep continuing to talk. Follow up with a letter expressing gratitude that includes a donor acknowledgement meeting IRS guidelines for tax purposes.
CONNECT: Stay connected to current donors and prospects with casual and formal communication. Donors are inspired to give when they understand their return on investment. Build friendships. People want to feel appreciated and connected to the life changing missions they support.