Less is More

Passion is a wonderful thing. But sometimes, a person is so passionate about another person, some toy, or a cause, that they become almost monomaniacal. They talk incessantly about the object of their passion, telling everyone more than anyone really wants to know.

No one is more passionate than people involved with nonprofit organizations. That creates the proverbial good news/bad news scenario. We love our organizations so much, and are so proud of everything we’ve ever done, that we want to tell everyone about it all.

But when you are out with a prospect, you really need to be listening more than you are talking . Find out what matters to that prospect. Especially, before you start telling someone about this thing your organization does, make sure this particular something is of interest or, at the very least, not something that is bound to upset them.

When writing grants, it is really important to understand that most of the time more is definitely less. If the guidelines ask you to describe the project for which you are requesting funds, describe the project. Don’t give them the entire history of your organization from founding until today. Don’t tell them of all your successes and the many, many things you do. There is a place for that information. It’s called the introduction and it is where you introduce your organization to the funder.

Even there, though, be circumspect. You don’t need to give them the encyclopedic version. Just tell them the information that will help them to understand why your organization is a good organization for this particular project.

Before you write or say anything to a possible supporter, think about what you are writing or saying. Does it add value? Are you sure (or as sure as you can be) that is on topic—topic being that which will move your prospect closer to supporting you.

Janet Levine is a fundraising consultant. She can be reached at jlevine@levinemorton.com. Her online grantwriting class is available at www.levinemorton.com/classes.html.