Tag Archives: fundraising tips

How to engage funders in a meaningful mutual conversation

 fundraising, cultivation, soliciting, fundraising tipsAs you  prepare for your next meeting with a current or potential donor, funder or sponsor we suggest focusing on what you want to learn from the meeting. This is distinctly different from a focus on what you want to share. Of course you need to be prepared to discuss the accomplishments, challenges, and vision of the nonprofit organization or institution you represent. But that is not enough. As you prepare determine what you want to accomplish as a result of the meeting, which three pieces of information you want to share, what you would like to learn, and how you can engage the person you are meeting with.

Here’s what you don’t want: a one-sided meeting where you share all the wonderful things your nonprofit has accomplished followed by an ask for a gift or involvement. You definitely don’t want a meeting where you talk about all the challenges that are threatening your nonprofit. Even if you were to walk away with a big check, we believe you would have neglected to secure the most valuable resource: the birth or growth of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Here’s an alternative: Engage your current and prospective donors in meaningful conversation. Think about it this way: if you were going out to lunch with a friend, would you want to spend all of your time hearing about how wonderful she is? Wouldn’t you want her to ask about you, your successes, your challenges? Maybe you want the opportunity to congratulate her on her successes, to connect her with likeminded men and women, or to offer guidance for how she can grow to the next level. If she does all the talking, you leave without having shared your suggestions for how she can experience even more success.

Here are a few questions you can consider including in your conversation: From your vantage point, what do you see as our strengths? Our challenges? How does our work fit with what you are seeking to achieve through your philanthropy? Do you have suggestions or guidance you could offer on how we could sustain and grow our organization? What trends are you seeing nationally? How are these manifesting in our community?

Practice having a conversation with another member of your board or a fellow volunteer. Make a video so you can review your presentation and make appropriate adjustments. Practice until you like what you see and hear. Leave room in the conversation – and in your heart – for guidance and suggestions. Know when to be quiet. Listen.

The more people feel they can help you succeed the more successful you can be. You can accomplish more with others than you can on your own.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

How to recruit fundraising volunteers

fundraising, fundraising planning, , 2014 fundraising, new year, fundraising tips, how to grow your fundraisingSuccessful fundraising requires qualified volunteer leadership. Whether you are launching an annual campaign or a capital campaign you need a campaign chair who is committed to your cause and willing to put in the time required to achieve your fundraising goal. The ideal chair makes your goal his goal. He is well respected, has a track record of leadership in local and regional fundraising campaigns, and the financial means to make a leadership-level gift. He is someone people cannot say “no” to, and he hates to fail. He allocates the necessary time to lead and manage the campaign, and provides pro-bono services. He is comfortable making the case and asking for gifts. He both attends and leads campaign meetings, bringing out the best in others, and encouraging all to give to their capacity.

If you are wondering where to find such an individual, we suggest looking at your existing relationships, starting with long-term donors and current major donors. Consider current and former board members and advisors. Reflect on the well-respected leaders in your community and create a list of those who might benefit from being involved with your campaign. Remember: not all volunteerism is altruistic! A commitment to your organization’s mission is critical, but self-interest could also be a driver.

Here are a few examples. A bank president may have lost a grandchild to domestic violence and wants to interrupt the cycle and save others from such grief. An alumnus may want to enhance her profile in anticipation of a future run for state-wide office. A business leader from another part of the country may be relocating her business operations to your community and needs to build relationships and goodwill. You may be surprised at what drives people’s intentions and who wants to support your fundraising.

As you recruit your chair, share your fundraising plan with him. Give him time to review your plan so he can determine if he has the time, connections, and willingness to make it work. Ask him who he wants to support his efforts: Let him invite others to join his fundraising team. He may have a circle of colleagues he works with who can “make things happen.”

While it takes time to identify, solicit, and engage your top fundraising leadership, your efforts will yield results. An engaged and qualified chair can do more for your campaign than an enthusiastic chair who lacks experience and connections.

Here are the top three things to remember in regard to fundraising leadership. First, leadership is critical to the success of any fundraising effort. Second, fundraising must be volunteer-driven, with strong, experienced leadership. Third, people give to people.

Leadership is key to fundraising readiness: we invite you to assess your fundraising readiness for free at www.saadandshaw.com

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net