August 2016

by Jennifer Chalos

Lead Consultant with Jennifer Chalos & Associates
Throughout her extensive career, Chalos has helped to raise millions of dollars for the 30-plus organizations with whom she has worked, which include large national institutions, established statewide and urban institutions, and smaller local organizations.

Five Tips for Successful Fundraising

For most people “fundraising” sparks feelings of awe, fear, and anxiety. Instead, approach it like you would building friendships for your cause, and fundraising will be enjoyable and rewarding. Not convinced? Here are some tips. (Happy Fundraising!)

  1. Get organized.Write your case statement by answering: What do you propose to do? Why is it needed and unique? What is the potential impact? What are the project’s inspiring stories?Build the case larger: How will this impact audiences? Affect larger arts communities? Think big picture and where you fit in.

    Identify resources/tools: Project budget. Marketing/communications materials. Videos or demonstration. Potential prospects, endorsers/fans, and fundraising ambassadors.

    Create engagement experiences. Set up an outreach calendar for prospects to connect and learn more about your work with marketing, media and public relations, tours/events, letters and newsletters, one-on-one meetings, etc.

  2. Prioritize – People Give to People.Prioritize your list of prospects based on level of engagement and shore up support from stakeholders—friends, audiences, volunteers, board members—and then seek referrals among their peers and co-workers. Regardless of your outreach tactic, your stakeholders compel other supporters.
  3. Research.Knowledge can guide timing, messages, and method, and the amount you might seek. Google demographic information and giving patterns. Ask your stakeholders for information. Record everything.
  4. Ask!Making an “ask” can be daunting, but you gotta do it to get it! Practice and role play scenarios with trusted friends to learn and improve. Share the opportunity, impact, connections, and unique attributes. After sharing and observing reactions, ASK! Listen to the answer and confirm understanding.
  5. Promptly, thank!Studies show that thank-yous within 48 hours of receiving a gift or pledge—handwritten, typed, emailed, or spoken—are the next best steps for building a long-term, fruitful relationship. Include the gift’s impact. Check IRS rules for gift acknowledgement.

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