Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Last week I spoke with the Board of Trustees at a really special social service agency.  My topic was fundraising and I was brilliant.  Not, mind you, quite as brilliant as I had been in the shower earlier in the morning…Seriously, how hard is it to motivate already motivated people?  But motivating as I may have been, the real star of the meeting was one of the agency’s clients. This young lady, a teen mom who is not only taking care of her child and attending school but is also president of that school’s student government, embodied the reasons these busy and well-connect men and women were involved in this organization.  And the Board was enthralled.  Their support in action.

If you are not regularly bringing your Board members and prospects face to face with what you do, why not?  All the reports, professional speakers, glossy brochures pale next to a real live person who has benefitted from the work of your organization and the programs it provides.  And if you can’t get that person IN the room, how about pictures, or recordings or stories from someone who has worked closely with your clientele?

What?  You don’t work with people?  Of course you do—animals, land, the environment, or policies on the great issues of the day such as war, poverty, racism—all involve people and it is the people on the front lines you want to get in front of your Board, your donors, and your prospects.

The classic litmus test of whether you have a fundable project is to ask:  Who cares?  If no one cares, no one will fund.  But too often, we don’t give our prospects good enough reasons to care.

There are so many good causes, so many needs.  It can get overwhelming.  And for most of us, overload means pulling the pillow over our heads.  I can’t stop poverty, make peace, educate everyone who wants to be educated.  I can’t provide decent medical care, childcare, animal shelters.  I can’t, in short, change the world by myself.

But if I can see what I can accomplish; what my gift actually does, then I will care.  And if I care, I will support you and I will tell others to do the same.

Janet Levine works with nonprofit organizations, helping them to thrive and grow. She also teaches online classes in grantwriting and fundraising.  Learn more at http://janetlevineconsulting.com.