It all boils down to this:
Fundraising is the business of inspiring others to give (money, time, connections, etc.) so you can do the good work you’ve set out to do.
How do you “inspire” someone to give? What does “inspire” mean?
Here’s how the Cambridge Dictionary defines it: “To make someone feel like they want to do something, and can do it.”
So. Let’s say you’ve landed a meeting with a potential mega-donor.
Why do you need this fellow? Because you’ve got a huge deficit to cover, and you’re hoping he’ll relieve you of the burden.
And that’s what you tell him. You talk about your organization’s major deficit and entreat him to save the day.
Here’s the issue, though.
Walking into your meeting and talking about your deficit probably won’t make him feel like he “wants to,” or even “can,” fulfill your request. It probably won’t inspire within him such a genuine desire to help you that despite all the other mosdos with deficits knocking on his door, he’ll feel he can afford to write the check you’re asking him for.
So what will inspire him? How can you reframe your pitch so it really does the job?
For your donors, giving is not about dollars and cents. It’s about impact.
So when you speak to a donor, you’ve got to share your vision for the impact their gift will create. Passionately. Vividly. In a way that really compels them.
Need more specific advice? As in, how to share your vision compellingly?
Step One: Talk about a problem.
Why does your organization exist? What issue are you trying to solve for Klal Yisrael?
In other words, why does it matter that you’ve got this major deficit threatening your organization?
If you’re a program that provides mentors for at-risk youth, you might describe what these boys’ lives look like now, without the support you could give them.
And when you do, remember what I mentioned about being passionate and vivid. Give details. Give examples. Paint as full-color a picture as possible of the problem you’re combatting.
'So many boys in our community fall through the cracks because they’re alone.
They’re struggling, but they have no one to talk to, no one to guide them, no one to give them the feeling that their pain matters and that there are solutions.
Maybe these kids don’t have the best relationships with their parents. Maybe they’re too shy to reach out to rebbeim. Maybe they just don’t feel like the “guides” in their lives understand them or take them seriously.'
So they start looking for comfort and understanding in the wrong places. And end up hurting themselves in terrible ways.
Get even more specific. Give examples. Tell stories.
Step Two: Show how you can be the solution.
If you had the money you needed, how would you be Klal Yisrael’s answer to that problem? How will you benefit the people your organization impacts? How will you change their lives?
'When these boys join our mentoring program, they flourish. The connection, love, and guidance they get helps them turn their lives around. They heal. They grow. They rejoin the community. They get back on a path to a healthy, successful life.
And it’s not just the boys who benefit. Their parents, so tied up in dealing with their sons’ struggles, regain their lives. Their siblings get their parents back. And their entire families start experiencing the nachas they’ve been yearning for.'
Again - the more specific the better. Tell real-life stories. Show your donor’s what you can accomplish - what their gift can accomplish.
What’s the next step? How do you transition from sharing your vision to getting the donor to give his funds or connections?
Stay tuned - we’ll cover those steps next week. Until then, do some brainstorming.
- Identify the problem your organization solves. Write it out in a compelling script.
- Script out your vision for solving that problem. How will you use your donor’s gift to impact lives?
- Share your script with people you trust. Get feedback. Tweak until you and your critique-ers feel confident with it.