We worked in past months on two different things with a common denominator: mobilising funds.
One is a donor-mapping study for a client, with analyses of where strategic partnerships (and funds) lay-down for the next 4-year programme period of client’s organisation.
The other is crowdfunding education and campaigns mentoring for the teams willing to raise funds for their project ideas by using crowdfunding. Our team-members mentored campaigns from a Choco-Bar even to going down to South Pole! Seriously!
The first is kind of “old school”, long-term, big amounts for big projects in a relative big area. The latter is social innovation – alternative finance, short-term, smaller amounts, smaller bites (but of a potentially big cake. A chocolate cake!).
Are they really that different or do they have something in common?
Here are 3 things we’ve learnt and want to share with you.
If you go fundraising, put on your dance-shoes and work out these things:
- Be very clear, confident and persuasive about your project idea.
Get ready to impress!
Familiarise with your project idea. Know it in detail. Study it. Be friends. Be ready to explain it in short and simple way but know details if there are questions asking for more. People need to understand what it is about and why you are the best person to do it.
Build it on your strong assets, past experience and concrete results you have done already. You can admit even if you failed but then explain how you fixed it. It is human to make mistakes, nobody succeeds every time! (Only those who do nothing are not making mistakes…The sinless guys.)
Use facts and figures and put your idea in a perspective – compare with something everybody knows about. But do not overdo so it does not sound like a Sudoku puzzle.
Most importantly, show your passion about what you do! (Do not fake it, people can feel it. You can tell when someone is a lame, right?)
- Find a story in it (or make it up but it should look real) – illustrate your idea with a face with a name!
Use simple language. Use live examples. Pick characters for your idea and make a story out of it. Get them into trouble, help them get-out of trouble, with your solution.
People should be able to recognise themselves or a situation they are familiar with in your story, then it will work. Test is on your neighbours, friends, hairdressers or bartenders, whoever is closer. Does it work? Do they get the point? Do they feel moved and inspired by your story so they are ready to support your great idea?
With a story, you can explain why it matters and what are the benefits of doing it. What is the positive change it makes in people’s lives. With a story, you’ll create a picture in people’s heads that they will remember.
- Ask people what they think and invite for collaboration – make partnerships.
It takes two …
Ask people what they think about your project, product or idea. And do it as early as possible, at the very beginning. Ask people if they need it at all and what way they like it more. Before you invest too much into a wrong version of your project idea that will not work.
Feedback is important, it is a sanity-check, life-proofing. Because if nobody likes it nor needs it, your idea is not going to survive. Even if you secure funding and do it, it will die after you leave. (Or hijack you for your whole life.) And maybe only a small twist at design stage was needed to make it work, but you’ve never asked the users!? Or maybe you’ve picked a completely wrong user-group?
A! This last question leads us perhaps to the most important thing: You need to know to whom you are talking. Who is your target?
Get to know you clients, partners, donors, customers, audience, beneficiaries, target groups… however we call them. Know their needs and interests, their problems and priorities, know their abilities and present your idea having that in mind.
To sum up, share your stories and your passion rather than just ask for money. The money or funds will come eventually. What is more important is a community you can build around your idea, develop your idea with and for the community, not for you and your project; engage partners, hook-up and infect more and more people and organisations to help you do it. That is how your idea will live and survive.
It is the same principles with donors-mobilisation as with crowdfunding. In very simple words: present in a straightforward way what is your idea about and how it impacts people and life – what has changed or will change when you do it? Do not “talk projects”, do not use general statements, buzzwords with no real meaning nor over-technical terminology. Use real people, concrete situations, examples and testimonials. Explain why you are the best person to do it, highlight your strong sides, explain why you need support. Share your vision, match it with your potential partners priorities, invite for collaboration. And be visual. Use videos, pictures, infographics. Offer rewards in return for support. Make your story work for you. If you’d like more, check some tips from UNDP Crowdfunding Academy colleague!
You can share your tips or stories or we can help you if you need a hand with that!
Contact us and let’s dance together!