Fundraising with Confidence and without Fear
It’s unfortunate that in a world desperately in need of so much for so many, nonprofits struggle with fundraising. In a 2013 report by CompassPoint, key areas were identified where nonprofits – particularly smaller nonprofits – fell vulnerable to fundraising failures. The upshot was that nonprofits don’t generate the circumstances basic to fundraising success. Many nonprofit groups – even some larger organizations – don’t have basic fundraising structures and tactics and no fundraising plan set up. (View report here.)
Setting the stage for fundraising success
The first step for any organization – with no system in place – is to lay the groundwork for fundraising. In a larger organization, this would be the realm of the development director. But even if there are only five people doing everything, you can hammer out a fundraising plan and get a database set up. Use the momentum created by these new changes to start cultivating a culture of philanthropy with the entire organization and don’t leave anyone out.
When your charity has established the fundraising basics with a database in place and a defined plan, you’re ready to move forward. Or are you? Everyone in the office is excited by the buzz generated by the new opportunities. So what’s the problem?
Ummm, it’s embarrassing…this asking people for money. Yes, money is a delicate issue and in some cases, a taboo subject to discuss with strangers. But how are you going to fundraise with confidence if the subject of money doesn’t come up?
Oh, the fear and embarrassment
There’s the irony – missions rely on donations to keep the doors open. The vision, the passion, the belief in the programs must be rooted in the consciousness of every fundraiser. With a firm focus on the mission, personal discomfort should become irrelevant. The fear of failure and fear of rejection coupled with the shame attached to the idea of “begging”, might be viewed as demeaning. What’s needed here is a shift of perspective.
Requesting money face-to-face, even for a well-deserving organization, can be a challenging task. But asking for money is what charities do! As a nonprofit professional, you’re simply doing your job.
Don’t ignore this issue – it’s bigger than you might think and it impacts a nonprofit’s bottom line badly. Share experiences with each other, discussing potential problems, potential solutions. A culture of charity begins with passion; if embarrassment about raising money gets in the way, meet it head on.
Adjusting attitudes at your nonprofit
If everyone in nonprofit development knows that the work they do is for the greater good, the better they’ll be able to do it. Cultivate a mindset that fundraising is not about money; it’s all about making the world a better place. Elevate the position of fundraising to a higher level.
As fundraisers, you are giving your donors and prospects a chance to partner in solving enormous problems and take part in something bigger than themselves. Instead of being an embarrassed fundraiser, shift the perspective: by giving, the donor will feel a warm glow.
Fundraisers can be caught up in fear, wallowing in the embarrassment they’re feeling. But put the spin on the traditional outlook and don’t deny the prospect or donor their chance to change the world. Effective fundraising is never about mere money; it’s all about improving the community or the world for the better.
Your team – volunteers and staff – can accomplish great things. Confidence grows with clear instructions and support. Be sure everyone has access to resources and information for effective fundraising. Be supportive, while setting realistic targets and goals. Let everyone know what the expectations for fundraising are, especially new recruits.
Have a fundraising cycle
Having a clearly defined set of steps for fundraising is called a fundraising cycle or path. This road map when properly set up, will take potential donors from prospects to loyal supporters. Finding, cultivating, engaging, and including them is also known as Moves Management. When each individual is ready, they are asked for their support, and profusely thanked for their generosity. And then with each supporter, the process begins again.
If you visit prospects, ask for donations and cultivate or steward donors you are making Moves. Each of these actions to attract donors, create relationships and promote contributions is Moves Management, the means and processes that govern these actions.
A very basic fundraising cycle will look something like this: identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Your pathway or fundraising cycle may be this simple or it may be very complex as this method outlined here. The important point is that there is some sort of established structure in place. This course of action will take your nonprofit successfully through each stage towards developing ardent supporters.
At the end of the day organizations are better off when donor relationships are developed together. Involve all the staff and volunteers with the fundraising process and encourage ideas and feedback from everyone.
Confident fundraising will be founded on passion and integrity. Asking face-to-face makes a powerful “sales pitch” by giving you an opportunity to tell the story of your nonprofit. If it’s a “no” then you can move on. If it’s a “yes” then you collect the check or pledge or gather information so that you can collect the donation at a better time.
Each time you “ask” face-to-face, the genuine connection to your mission and belief in your colleagues should shine out. Find ways to personally make a connection with the mission, the programs, a person or the story. Be authentic each and every time. Don’t abandon fundraising; by doing so, you abandon your mission. Learn to enjoy the fundraising process and let your confidence add sparkle to each “ask.”
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