Look Up for Inspired Fundraising

Take-away: Invigorate your storytelling by revisiting your nonprofit’s origins.

I wended my way along Broad Street, texting fundraising assignments and answering emails, avoiding pedestrian collisions by a hairsbreadth.

A single snowflake melted on my screen. Then another, and another. I looked up. A scattering of white flecks sparkled in the sunshine. Magic.

As I gazed skyward, I noticed a different, older city above me. Greek columns graced the tops of some buildings. Others were capped with Art Deco or Egyptian patterns. It was as if these buildings were designed for ground level, then shot up 20 stories, leaving their beauty stranded, a rarely-glimpsed memory.

 

The crowd jostled, looking down, ahead, around, but never up. Surprised by this revelation, I wandered on, head tilted back, marveling at Philadelphia’s eclectic mix of historic buildings. They comforted me.

Why?

The echoes of the past reassure us and provide a context for understanding new ideas and inventions. Architects mine the past for inspiration and so can you.

Imagine you’re about to ask for donation. But you’re stumped. Tongue-tied. Unsure. What can you say that hasn’t been said before? How can you talk about your cause in a way that will excite a gift?

Look to the past, especially if your nonprofit’s old. Dig, and chances are you’ll hit gold.

For example, I was preparing to ask a friend to support the Wagner Free Institute of Science. Casting about, I wondered about its founder, William Wagner, an 1800’s merchant who collected specimens on his far-flung trading voyages. I researched his travels, reading about and viewing historic paintings of the places he visited. I imagined him sweltering in Port au Prince, Haiti.  Astride an ice-slick deck in the Antarctic. Inhaling the acid reek of island guano. Savoring Chinese dishes exploding with spices worth a fortune.

That sense of adventure fueled my plea for the Wagner’s hands-on science lessons. I explained that these children should and could experience the thrill of discovery for themselves.

Plowing through everyday tasks, peering at screens and caroming from meeting to meeting can sap your eloquence. If you want to make your case with renewed vigor, try voyaging into the past.

And next time you’re in Center City Philly, look up!

“Study the past if you would define the future”- Confucius

Find more fundraising tips in my book, Nonprofit Hero, available on Amazon, and in my blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

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Free? Doesn’t always take money to raise money

Take-away: use LinkedIn to identify corporate donors and tell your personal story about your nonprofit not a scripted elevator speech.

 

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for weekly motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

 

 

 

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What are your Activation Energy Barriers to fundraising?

Take-away: Identify your fundraising weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Buzz, buzz, buzz… BAM!

Snakelike, you strike, slamming the snooze button.

Buzz, buzz, buzz… BAM!  You hit snooze again. It’s Monday, your room’s frigid and it’s toasty under your quilt.

You, my friend, have a serious Activation Energy Barrier (AEB).

Fundraising and your morning struggle are both hard, but why? Chemists call it an Activation Energy Barrier, the burst of energy required to jump-start a process, whether it’s photosynthesis or igniting a fire. In fundraising, I call this your Yeah, buts, as inYeah, I’d like to get a lot of money for my nonprofit, but

We develop strategies to lower our morning barriers, such as laying clothes out the night before, and for overcoming barriers, such as coffeemakers programmed to awaken us with the seductive scent of java.

Your “Yeah, But” Barrier Score

Similarly, you can develop strategies to lower or overcome your barriers to fundraising. But first, you must know what those barriers are. Try this little exercise.

Close your eyes. Call to mind someone who could donate $1,000. Imagine you’re about to ask them for a gift.  How do you feel? What are you afraid of? What’s stopping you? Here’s a list of common “Yeah, buts…” Check all that apply:

  1. ___ They’ll feel like I’m using our friendship to get money.
  2. ___ They won’t like me, they’ll reject me
  3. ___ I/they will be embarrassed
  4. ___ I don’t want the donor to feel uncomfortable/awkward
  5. ___ I don’t know how much to request/if they can afford it
  6. ___ They’ll say no or I’ll fail
  7. ___ I don’t know what to say/don’t have enough information/need a plan
  8. ___ I don’t know how to ask
  9. ___ They won’t see how important the cause is
  10. ___ Other(s): ____________________________________________________________________________

The more Yeah, buts… you have, the higher your score. If you checked only one or two, you can probably overcome them by using my five-step method (see below). If you checked all nine and listed one or more besides, you’re a 10, and may be unable to ask at all.

If you’re fearless, if you checked none of the above, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog and go ask for a gift!

Understanding your fundraising “Yeah, buts”

The good news is, I don’t want you to ask your friends to give if you think you’ll alienate them. I don’t want you to ask if you don’t know how much to request, if you don’t know what to say nor if you have reason to believe they’ll turn you down.

Who in their right mind would do that?

I want to show you how the flip side of your fear is often your asking strength. Playing to your strengths, you can overcome your fears. For example, if you checked # 1-4 above, you probably have great social skills, like my friend Lara, a therapist. Rather than asking directly, you might facilitate a conversation between your donor friend and your nonprofit’s CEO that results in a gift!  Everyone is different. Discover your Asking Personality to learn who, where, when, how you should ask, and how you can do so in ways at which you’ll excel.

You can lower your barriers by using my signature five-step method, which starts with thanking, not asking, proceeding through the steps so by the time you get to the last step, asking, you’re practically guaranteed a “Yes!”

You can learn more about my five-step method and discover your Asking Personality, in my book Nonprofit Hero, Five Easy Steps to Successful Board Fundraising, available on Amazon, or for free by request from your local library.

Ignite the spark that will overcome your fundraising activation energy barriers.

“When a log that has only just started to burn is placed next to one that is burning fiercely … the first log will be burning with much greater intensity.”                                                                                                                                                                               -Eckhart Tolle

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Why Board Members Hate Fundraising and How to Change It

 

Learn to set your board up for fundraising success in under 3 minutes! Also if you want to learn how to become a Nonprofit Hero yourself, make sure to check out my book Nonprofit Hero: Five Easy Steps for Successful Board Fundraising!

 

 

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

 

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What Makes a Great Fundraiser?

Take-away: The most successful fundraisers are crystal clear about what they want. Find your passion, your personal mission in life…and ask!

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

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What’s your Best Step in the Fundraising Process?

Take-away: 90% of fundraising has nothing to do with asking; it is a process requiring various roles, skills and personalities. Cast yourself for success!

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

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The T-Shirt Folding Fundraising Leadership Test

Take-away: Don’t overlook introverts when hiring your next development director.

 

“You have the fundraising gene.”

I get that a lot from friends and acquaintances. What they mean is, “You’re extraverted, outgoing and not afraid to ask.”

They’re wrong.

I am an extravert, but my confidence and skill come from decades of professional experience. When I started my career, I was so scared I had to smoke a cigarette before I could summon up the courage to get on the phone to ask someone to volunteer. Not to give. Just to volunteer.

I know. Cigarettes in the office. This was decades ago.

Continue reading The T-Shirt Folding Fundraising Leadership Test

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Why Introverts Make Great Fundraisers

Take-away: All of us want to be heard. Active listening allows you to learn more about your donor and facilitate a joyful gift.

 

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

 

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Ask, Stop, and Listen

Take-away: Don’t be afraid of silence; ask the question, then shut up!

Don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

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Always Have a Backup

Take-away:  Avoid surprises when asking for major gifts by taking a holistic approach to prospect research.

Thanks for watching and don’t forget to book your Nonprofit Hero Talk and Training!

 

Follow @ValJFundrasing on Twitter for daily motivation, NPO job postings, and local fundraising events.

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