Always Be Clear

Always Be Clear

When you’re first starting out and haven’t fully developed your ask, fundraising can be challenging. You might be stuck or even insecure about how to take people to the next level with fundraising. It can be nerve wrecking and discouraging, however, we've worked with hundreds of people who have turned these same humble beginnings into success stories. The key is in being clear.

In our experience, knowing what you need, how you need it, and directly asking for it in any culture is the most effective approach. The more important part about all of that is to be clear. In an indirect culture you can be clear about what you are looking for, but you may not ask for a person to make a decision right then and there. For example, a very direct ask would be "Would you be willing to partner?" while an indirect approach would be a statement "We are looking for people to partner financially and would love for you to consider this." With the first statement, you're clearly helping them see how they can be a part of the work. In the second one, you’re still being clear about your intentions, but not asking them to answer in the moment.

We've found that in this indirect context, people have found success in asking others to pray about it now and then being more direct later in a less public follow up via email or text. Essentially in any case, think through the best option for the people you are approaching. Don’t base anything on what you're comfortable with, but rather focus on what is going to be the most effective with each potential partner. You’ll always be limiting yourself if you’re led by fear, so it’s better to exit your comfort zone and try something specific and direct.

The Essential Fundraising Tool

The Essential Fundraising Tool

Fundraising is like building a home. It’s not done over night, and it requires a plethora of things to be done correctly and admirably. To really get the job done, you need the right tools to change your vision into a project brought to fruition! Instead of having screws and a hammer, in your toolbelt you may have things like a strong call, a clear vision, a strategy for impact, a list of names, and a plan to engage. Despite how useful these tools are, there is one that is the most essential of them all. It's a small, and hidden tool, but it can make the greatest difference in your fundraising efforts. What is it, you ask? It’s none other than the tool of persistent prayer!

Ephesians 6:10 -18 lists all the weapons that a good soldier of Christ used to fight in the spiritual realm. The scriptures list critical essentials, but the last weapon is one of the most powerful - prayer! It says, "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit." You may be familiar with this in your spiritual journey, but how does this work out on a practical level? It’s actually more simple than it may seem. When you start your day, ask God to lead you to people who would want to hear about the mission. Pray when you make a phone call, send an email to follow up after the meeting. Pray about each person and the conversation you’ve had. Ask that "God would touch their hearts and give them a desire to give to the work of His kingdom." After you’ve asked, trust God to make it happen. Watch how God opens doors and hearts!

If you need visual manifestation to accompany your prayer, try this great idea we learned from a client. Take a package of popsicle sticks and write the name of each of your ministry partners on them. Once you’ve done that, put the popsicle sticks in a jar. At a certain time during the day, whether it be before breakfast or dinner, pull out a name and pray for a partner. This way you can physically connect to the prayer that you are sending. As a daily tool, prayer not only opens doors, but it also keeps your heart focused on ministering to others, which is the key to partnership!

Established Relationships

Established Relationships

Partnership is most often built upon an already established relationship.

The most important thing about a gift is building a relationship with the person who gave the gift or will give a gift. Get to know the individual and do not neglect their interests. (You will need to consider businesses, churches and foundations as people too.) When looking to "go deep" with an organization, first pick one or two people within the four walls who are decision makers, and connect deeply with them. Consider grant applications, for example. Many times (unless they are government applications), grants are better received when there is someone at the foundation that you have an already established relationship with that is expecting your application. They are going to sort through the hundreds of applications they have to look for the one they are expecting from you. Building strong relationships is the key to building your donor base, and it is still key when working with organizations and foundations in general.

Identify a problem you can solve together.

Getting to know your donors means getting to know their passions. What issues are your donors passionate about solving? Identify a problem for them that you can solve together. In our last book, How to Get a Generous Response (Almost) Every Time You Ask, we discussed the concept of how the "hero" is only as great as the "villain" is bad. If the problem you are trying to solve is not the worst villain your donor has ever heard of, then the solution really isn't going to appear to be that great and your donors are not going to be motivated to fund it. Many times, individuals want to give to causes after hearing the problem because it is so devastating; and it should be. I always encourage our clients to not hold back when sharing their ministry stories because of this very reason.

This post is an excerpt from our our e-book. Check it out if you want to read more.