We all start somewhere - usually near the beginning, and rarely without guidance from friends and folks around the office. Each of our fellows hones fundraising skills by launching a personal campaign to raise $500. The money raised goes to support the programs and youth they work with during their fellowship.
I reached out to Tom Moosbrugger, Development Manager at Financial Beginnings and a friend of mine, to pick his brain and bring back a few pointers for our fellows to apply to their work. He shared four key tips:
Prepare in advance
Like any meeting or social and business engagements, fundraising is most effective when you've prepared in advance. Do the research on your potential supporter, but also do the research on your cause.
What need would their support fulfill?
How does their mission and interests align with your cause?
Why do you need funding NOW?
Also, think through what you want to learn about them - be prepared to ask lots of questions about their individual interests and areas of focus; this will get you valuable information that can help you make a stronger, more personalized ask.
The biggest mistake new fundraisers make is not asking for enough. Don't be afraid to ask for a large amount if that's what you need. You will never receive big gifts unless you ask for them.
Speak in a slow, confident voice
It's easy to get lost in exciting and passionate discussion when talking about your cause, but it's also important to remember that people are reading your tone and body language as much as they are the content of what you're saying. Always come back to the simple principle of effective communication: when you're interacting with someone, over the phone or in person, speak slowly and with a confident tone. Projecting confidence and giving people enough time to digest what you're saying will build their confidence in your program and organization.
Avoid using insider-language
You live and breathe your cause every day, but it's important to remember that many supporters have wide-ranging interests, and may not be experts on the topic you work on. Whether in person or in written communications, it’s important to remember to communicate in a way that makes sense to a lay audience. Don't use acronyms or obscure program terms. Try instead to translate these concepts into everyday language.
Example: "Our organization works to increase grid-level participation of purveyors of distributed resources, ensuring a greater incidence of carbon offsets around the state." versus "Our organization organizes clean energy providers, ensuring a clean and healthy environment around the state."
What are some of your best tips, either from experience as a fundraiser or supporter, that you think would have been helpful to know when starting out? Leave a comment!