"We don’t," the potential client said, "have individuals who will fund us. " "Really? Why do you say that?"
"Well," she answered, "the people we serve are poor, as is the community in which we are located."
"OK. So what then do you need to do?"
To find those who may care—and show them why supporting your organization matters.
And it is not going to matter unless you connect this potential caring people to the work you do.
That’s why, instead of spending time telling them about you, you must spend most of your time learning about them:
- About their values.
- About the best charitable gift they feel they ever made.
- About the best thank you they believe they’ve ever gotten
You have to find out what keeps them up at night. And what promotes a restful sleep. What angers them, and what makes them smile. In short, you have to learn who these people are and what makes them tick.
You do that not by talking at them, but talking with them. So if they tell you that the value that matters most to them is let’s say justice, you can talk about the ways that your organization ensures fairness for all. If, on the other hand, what matters most is tradition or loyalty, can you talk about how you teach respect for things that are passed from generation to generation or the importance of commitment to a cause or an ideal?
Only if what your organization does—and most importantly, what it accomplishes—meshes with the things that your potential donor cares about, will you be able to move them to support you with not just their charitable gift but also their time, their talents and yes, their tentacles. If they care, they will share that feeling with their friends and family, their colleagues and co-workers. But if you can’t connect them at their core with the work of your organization, you may get a gift, once. But probably not more than that.
Consider, therefore, what matters about the work you do. Dig deeply. Sit with your board members, your staff, and start with something your organization does. Then ask, “So what?” Keep asking that of each and every response until you all feel that you reached the essence of what you do and have clarity about why it matters. This will take you from empty recitals of the activities your organization engages in to sharing passion and pride in what it all means.
And no, not everyone will care. But that’s ok. We can all be philanthropic in our own ways. But you will find that many more do care, and over time and with a lot of work, you will build a community of people who care enough to regularly support your work and ask others to join with them in making sure that your important work can continue.
Janet Levine helps nonprofits go from mired to inspired–and to increase their fundraising capacity. Check out her website, www.janetlevineconsulting.com and while there, sign up for the free newsletter. Most recently, Janet co-authored Compelling Conversations for Fundraisers. Available at Amazon. Order now at http://tinyurl.com/hu6rgpa. And then leave a glowing review!