Yesterday marked yet another day of blessed success for The Sparrow’s Nest. We were able to exceed our crazy goal of raising $50,000 in 50 days by drawing in over $53,000. Even though the majority of my time is spent in development and networking, direct campaigns are very intimidating. What do you do if you don’t make the mark? However, money should never be a barrier to making a difference. Here’s 5 key principles I’ve learned in funding your passion.
1. Relationships. Don’t bother taking on this goal if you don’t love people. Don’t even attempt do something this intense if you haven’t taken time being with people and caring about who and what they are. Asking for money from anyone brings up all kinds of emotions. Friends you hang out with all the time will suddenly disappear for awhile. Family will unsubscribe from your newsletter. Conversations will always steer away from money talk. But if you can’t offer people grace during that time it’s not worth it. Honor whatever anyone has to offer. Prayers and encouragement have more value than checks and credit cards. A $5 donation should mean the same to you as a $5000 donation. If I’ve slacked off on connecting with people I am way less likely to actively engage them in my fundraising efforts. Relationships will always be more important than money.
2. Over Communication. We’re the little guys in a ginormous pond of other very worthwhile causes. We have to pull all the punches of getting noticed. If your cause is worth raising a large chunk of money in a short amount of time you have to take the risk of being annoying. Being pleasantly persistent pays off. If you believe in what you are doing don’t be afraid of jumping up and down acting like a fool to get people to notice. Folk are inundated with requests and most people are filled with good intentions. You have to consistently communicate your message in a variety of means to remind them why your particular cause is worth their sacrifice. Written notes, personal visits, texts, facebook, linked in, tweets, letter campaigns, post card reminders, and emails all have to be used. Enlisting the help of other supporters using their means of communication to their circles of friends and family is highly effective as well.
3. Prepare. A system is absolutely necessary for success. You must prepare in advance for writing content, preparing your social media vantage, visiting donors, communicating with businesses and service groups. Also include in your preparation make plans from anything how you document deposits, scheduling time for bank deposits, to even time for writing thank yous. I’ve used the templates from The Rocket Company multiple times. Preparing months in advance of your campaign with schedules, letters, and emails is critical. This is one I’m still working on especially so I don’t stress out my team in the implementation of everything especially in the final hours. You can’t raise money on good intentions.
4. Don’t be surprised by the Crapshoot Stage. There comes a time when you’ve done everything you can do. You’ve contacted everyone you know or hope to know, sent every letter, followed up on every lead, prayed, cried, paced, snapped at your team, batted your eyes, wracked your brain for any source of unrestricted funding you can think of but at some point it becomes a crapshoot or in nicer terms it becomes an act of trust. You will come to the time when you throw up your hands in surrender and coast to whatever the finish will be. You prepare for that final count with grace and honesty. But I’m a strong believer that if you commit you plans to the Lord and are looking really for His approval and not the approval and expectations of man you will find success at every level.
5. Celebrate like it’s 1999. You’ve worked hard. Your donors have worked hard. The postman has worked hard delivering all your letters and card. Celebrate every piece of it. Handwrite the thank yous. Blast it all over the web. Call the critical players to thank. Write a happy song. Send off the fireworks. Have a freaking party (just be wise to limit spending the money you just fought for). Everybody wants to be a part of winning team and by celebrating you make it very clear that you realize you didn’t do it all by yourself. Fundraising is a team effort and should be celebrated the most festive way possible.
There’s a million other pieces involved in funding your dreams but the biggest piece is not apologizing for what has stolen your heart. Money makes important things happen. Have the mindset that you are blessing people with a tremendous opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
I’m not an expert I just don’t have a lot of fear left in this area. If I can help you figure out the best way to fund your dream let me know.