If you are a fundraiser, every single morning you are hearing from your own reflection in the mirror: “show me the money.” Your image will remind you that foundations are ignoring your proposals, high net worth individuals are escaping from you on their yachts, and even the mighty Kickstarter may not provide an immediate relief. It’s not as bad as the Obamacare web-site, but it’s getting close.
What are you supposed to do in this environment?
Well, whether you are almost there with your fundraising goal, or looking for miracles to happen, there are THREE simple ways to dramatically increase your outreach to new leads and prospects, so you can make that fantastic leap forward just before your board begins to wonder – where is that development director?
1. Use LinkedIn InMail to advance your fundraising goals
If you think that LinkedIn is just a recruiters’ paradise, think twice. Today LinkedIn is the de-facto leader among the professional social media platforms. Every second a new customer signs up to LinkedIn to be a part of the robust 200 million+ network of professionals all over the world.
In fact, LinkedIn is what you make it. It can serve as your workhorse, your Cadillac or your rocket ship. You just have to know some navigation rules. In my fundraising experience, the best results have been achieved by signing up to its paid service. This service provides you with InMail, a laser-sharp tool that can tear down the walls of mistrust and bring easy victories. The InMail service offers you the chance to approach any LinkedIn subscriber with no prior connection to you.
Just imagine — you can get past the toughest gatekeepers in the world!
In my own practice I was able to connect with funders and build an entire partnership network in a different country by using InMail alone. Moreover, simple but targeted messages through InMail helped me to raise funds and nurture new relationships.
How? Very simple — just follow the steps below:
a) Do a LinkedIn research on key funders in the area you’re interested in.
b) Select 10 solid leads and take time to learn about their professional backgrounds and affiliations.
c) Make sure that you take serious note of any existing connections between these target individuals and your connections.
d) Once you feel comfortable with each candidate, draft your short message.
e) Do not forget to include your core request in the first paragraph, i.e. “I’m contacting you with an opportunity to (offer).”
f) Follow up with another email, or better yet, a phone call after 4 days.
g) Invite your counterpart to an off-line meeting at Starbucks or Caribou, if you’re in the same area.
For more information on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, check out my other articles.
2. Regularly call your current donors and donor prospects
Another great way to engage your current donors is to call them. This rapidly vanishing skill of two or more humans speaking to each other is essential to any fundraiser, whether she’s 20 or 50 or 80 years old.
I refuse to believe that a simple phone call to a current donor may be a challenging task. Knowing personally what cold calling is, I’m so happy when I’m able to call an existing customer just to ask him – how have you been, old sport? (Gatsby’s talk is in fashion these days, you know).
You can make your phone call more effective if:
a) You learn as much as you can about your counterpart’s donation history.
b) Thank the donor for his continuous support of the organization.
c) Surprise the donor with some exciting initiative that only she can help advance.
d) Make sure that you leave room for other ideas and projects that the donor might be interested in supporting.
e) Make it simple for the donor to donate by providing handy information about the easiest way to donate for the project.
3. Maximize Your Engagement With Multipliers and Partner Organizations
“Friends should be friends,” sang Freddie Mercury, and he was exactly right. If friends can’t help us in difficult times, what are the friends here for? Your friends can be any non-profit or business organization that can align with your organization’s goals or may benefit from a joint effort.
For example, various chambers of commerce, trade associations, and local business clubs can serve as multipliers to your non-profit.
I always follow a win-win approach, offering partnering organizations access to resources or connections that might help them in reaching their goals.
For example, if you know of a service or product produced by a small business in your area which may help your stakeholders or clients resolve their needs or challenges, connect them with your circle. Make sure that you include their offering in your brochure or newsletters. After all, if your newly built connection benefits from interaction with you, the next step will be an unexpected referral to a potential donor or funder for your organization.
Finally, don’t forget to visit your local chamber of commerce and meet with its management team. Find out about the latest events and volunteer to help with the organization. This will not be unnoticed, and there’s a healthy chance that at the very event you helped to organize, there will be that one “lucky” encounter where you will achieve your goals in a single handshake.