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The Top Three Fundraising Strategies

Fundraising is Friendraising

There are a variety of ways to raise funds today. From Direct Mail to Social Media to Mobile Apps to Events…organizations engage in numerous ways to secure donations. Although each fundraising technique can raise money toward your cause, I’ve found the following three fundraising strategies to not only be the most critical, but also, the most rewarding:

  1. Clearly and Concisely Share Your Vision and Impact
  2. Friendraise Don’t Fundraise 
  3. Make a Direct and Specific Ask 

Clearly and Concisely Share Your Vision and Impact

You must clearly explain why you’re raising money while being succinct as you articulate your vision. Whether you are raising money for a hospital, a university, a national organization or a local endeavour, people want to know why they should entrust you with their money. 

When your core values and passion are aligned with the donors’ core values and passion, you create a strong synergy and bond. They have the capacity to fund the endeavour that your organization is operationalizing. You may be eliminating an injustice, compassionately caring for the poor, researching the cure for a disease, or supporting refugees among an array of worthy causes. The donor has a passion to make a difference but may either lack the expertise to do so or they are occupied running their day-to-day operations…but they are searching for an organization to donate to that is aligned with their passion and values. Clearly state why your cause might it. 

Your statistical analysis should emphasize why your organization is needed and the difference it is making. For example, if you’re building affordable housing, you would want to know how many people in your area are precariously housed or living in encampments and how many you’ve been able to house and support to date.

Clearly and concisely sharing your vision and impact necessitates your ability to tell stories. These stories should emphasize the difference your organization makes in the lives of those you serve as well as the surrounding community.

If you can’t clearly and concisely articulate your vision and impact, the donor will likely move on to an organization who is able to do so. 

Friendraise Don’t Fundraise 

Some organizations and fundraisers treat the donor as the means to an end. The most significant gifts are typically generated when the donor feels genuinely appreciated by the CEO, board chair or Donor Relations Officer of the organization. You need to get to know them. What are their passions? How have they built their business? What are their hobbies or interests? Ask them a few questions about themselves and you’ll soon discover how much information they would like to share with you. 

Some donors share a bit about their business and passion for philanthropy. Others will tell you their family history, where they love to vacation, their dreams, aspirations and more. Ensure you write notes after your meeting, so that next time you can loop back to some of what has been shared. Remembering some specifics will go a long way. 

Several years ago, I was sitting in a Greek Restaurant enjoying lunch in Toronto while Ron McClory from KMA Consulting and Rick Tobias, the CEO of Yonge Street Mission, were explaining the importance of ‘Friendraising and not Fundraising’. They had been friends for years and were both exceptional fundraisers. Some friendly banter began about who had first taught the other the concept (they also made it sound like one of them created the phrase). 

Over the years, I’ve become friends with several donors. 

Without having them direct your operations, ask the donor what ideas they have in advancing your cause. Non-profits work tirelessly to solve complex problems with a scarcity of resources. The donor may have some ingenious recommendations. Your donor should know that you care more about them than their money. 

Make a Direct and Specific Ask 

You aren’t going to surprise your donor with an ask. They know that’s what you’re there for! This is an area where many fundraisers struggle. They aren’t sure how to make the ask and so they leave with something vague like, ‘Thanks for considering partnering with us, we look forward to hearing from you.’ Make a direct and specific ask. Here are three ways to improve your ask:

  1. Know your donor. From your conversation, gauge their level of passion and interest in your project or organization. 
  2. Know their giving capacity. Do your research. Don’t ask a donor for 1 million dollars who has never donated more than 25 thousand dollars and don’t ask a donor for 25 thousand dollars who can give 1 million. Make an appropriate ask, given their giving and philanthropic history. 
  3. Practice your ask. Write it down. Rehearse it. After you thank them for their time, and acknowledge their interest and passion in the project, ask them for a donation, ‘It’s been great to visit with you this afternoon. Thanks for sharing how you built your business. I appreciate the interest you’ve shown in our project/organization. Would you consider donating 100 thousand dollars by June 30th to help push us across the finish line in making a difference in the lives of many individuals and families as well as our community?’

You will find that making a direct and specific ask shows them you value their time and their potential partnership. Donors appreciate a transparent ask. 

In my experience, clearly and concisely sharing your vision and impact; friendraising instead of fundraising; and making a direct and specific ask will offer the greatest impact from your fundraising efforts for your project and organization. If your organization is looking for someone to guide them in their fundraising efforts, I’d encourage you to DM me on LinkedIn or set up a Discovery Call so we can talk further and see if I can be of any assistance. I’m passionate about coaching organizations, in maximizing their fundraising efforts, who are positively impacting the lives of individuals and families as well as the communities around them. 

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