Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to get new donors to support your major initiative

Bring your fundraising goals down to earth through
targeted communication. Photo by Liz Cezat.

Before you try to convince new donors to embrace and support a major initiative, you will need to find out something about their beliefs. If you are making a presentation, you may want to invite people from certain work places, clubs or neighborhoods, based on a scale of attributes that closely match your existing donors. Think of cloning the persona of your most avid donors. If you are planning a letter request,  target the message in a manner that explores the initiative fully and also points out how this initiative speaks to the new donors' interests.

Let’s say a fundraising professional needs to raise $5 million to name an endowed chair at the engineering school of a leading university. That professional knows to address the topic of a new endowed chair. Yet, he or she must adroitly weave in the core message, "What’s in it for the funder?" Because the funder or donor needs to be moved to make a generous donation for  this program.
You, as a fundraising professional, could proceed to talk about how the endowed chair will improve the faculty’s ability to teach because they will have new tools and technology to do research and be better equipped to teach their courses online or in the classroom. That same endowed chair will benefit students because it will provide funds for the university to upgrade their science laboratories. For donors, funding such a chair will enable them to feel empowered about advancing the level of education at the university, plus it will mean a more educated workforce for the businesses that these donors own or operate. The answer to the core message is: "Take ownership in this educational advancement."

As a fundraising professional, you need to provide descriptive details about how this new program will impact not only the university but also the larger community. Create a vision through your words and phrases to make it desirable to new donors. Illustrate through technological advances and personal touch-points how it will improve the standard of living in a community they care about. While the technological advances of the initiative provide a macro overview,  the personal touch points can make a connection with a micro view. 

The tone of your message - for print or in presentations - is vital to the success of your campaign. Striking the right balance between the appeal and making it appealing can elevate your website copy, newsletters, brochures and annual reports for a dynamic impact. The right approach can ensure the success of your fundraising goals for a university, health care system or a community-based nonprofit. 

I have expertise in crafting fundraising appeals for case statements, marketing materials and community relations/PR. Plus, my writing is supported by professional graphic design. I welcome your questions to help you achieve greater success in your campaign.