Are you intimidated by fundraising? Do you see it as a huge challenge and are worried that you might not know the right people to help you with your approach? Rest assured: the following questions will give you a step-by-step guide to help you with your fundraising activities.
What is your project? Who is your target audience? You must be able to clearly and concisely explain your mission, as well as what sets you apart from other organizations with similar activities. Take the time to carefully prepare your proposal and don’t hesitate to follow these tips in the Australia Business Arts Foundation document Connect with business: A guide for the arts to partnerships with business:
- Prepare customized proposals (page 32)
- Introducing yourself (page 33)
- Presenting your proposal (page 34)
How many donors do you need to obtain this amount? Donors like to understand your fundraising objective, know that your strategy is feasible and understand the impact of their donation. If you show a donor that his donation will complement other donations and grants from other sources, he’ll see that he can make a difference, without, however, being entirely responsible for your funding. A balanced fundraising plan will always carry more weight, especially if you present your budget along with it.
What impact will the donation have on your project? It’s always preferable to identify the concrete project to which the donation will be allocated. For example, if you plan to produce a festival or new play, or wish to bring children to see your shows, indicate clearly what the donation will enable you to accomplish. A word of caution: donors aren’t usually interested in supporting an organization’s administrative expenses. It’s increasingly seen as being the role of arts councils and other granting bodies to finance this part of an organization’s operations.
Develop your strategy based on your answers to the previous questions. The next step consists in drawing up an action plan, along with a timeline and a list of the people who will help you with your approach. At this point, make sure that your board of directors will help you establish contacts and that each member, depending on his or her own resources, will support you in your fundraising efforts, either by donating or soliciting. This is also the time during which you will determine the various elements of your fundraising campaign.
This is a good communications tool to share with your donors because it summarizes who you are, your fundraising objectives and the benefits offered to donors.
Look around you and identify people who fit the profile you’re targeting. Also, identify those who could put you in contact with the corporations that you’ve identified. The key to success is often the way in which the contact was initiated.
Will you invite them to attend your activities? Ask them to speak publicly about you? Send them newsletters? A word of caution: satisfied donors will be happy to renew their association with you. However, donors who are under the impression that you’re only interested in their money and who are not kept informed about your activities may withdraw their support. There are so many people soliciting donors – take good care of yours!
Make sure to be referred by the right persons. Telephone calls and brief meetings are better than impersonal email follow-ups. Be persistent without being annoying. And always smile when you meet potential donors! Lastly, listen carefully to what they’re saying to you and to their motivations for giving. Maybe what you’re proposing this year won’t interest them, but, next year, your mutual interests may overlap. And remember, no doesn’t necessarily imply forever!