Story of Self, How to Tell your Philanthropy’s Story


Every strong philanthropic organization will tell you that they need to have a persona, a value, and an understanding that can be translated and understood to each of their donors within the general public. While having a nice pitch can get you those little wins, you want to make sure that your story is truly representing the organization’s principles and mission in every one of your calls or presentations. This type of story telling-pitch cannot just enhance your organization’s marketing image, but also improve your fundraising objectives closer to your quarterly goals.

But what does it mean to have a good story? Isn’t a pitch a story in itself?

While that is true, an impactful philanthropic story for any nonprofit can go a long way in changing and shaping the essence of an organization. Simply telling people the problem and asking them to donate is not enough for them to be sold. Instead, it takes a strong commitment in developing a relationship with the crowd to truly steal the show.

In many ways, I call this the story of self. In any philanthropy, you need to establish your identity. While highlighting numbers and grow will play a necessary role in proving your philanthropy’s mission, you also have to be cognizant that you are talking to people. Because of this, you want to make sure you are meaningful and intentional. Having that level of control and confidence is the first step in establishing your presence with the person (or crowd). Once you are able to greet them with an informative background pitch on yourself, you then want to highlight the problem.

When highlighting the problem, the best way to sell it is by tapping into the emotions. At the end of the day, your nonprofit does incredible and meaningful work. But to show them that work, you unveil the true world around them. For any layperson, they are aware that there are various social problems going on in the world. The only difference is that they only know the surface. To enhance their understanding, discuss the ever-growing social problem your organization is fighting against. Go in detail by highlighting a particular story that you know that they can sympathize with. Then drive it home with both the passion and ever-growing facts that this problem can have if we do not stop it today. By organizing your story in that way, you will be able to affectively and informatively highlight the ins-and-outs of your social problem.

Once they are able to comprehend the issue, start by introducing your philanthropy’s work and your overall mission. At times, you may require you to spell it out for them. But to showcase the large extent of your nonprofit’s impact is something that can open their eyes. Be specific if you have to. The more detail you can give them, like a personalize story, the better.

Then end it with a close and thank them. Now, for any fundraising campaign, you wan to make sure you have a logistical system that can consolidate all of their personal information. This can be a sign-in sheet, sign-in cards, or a more tech version of the two so that you can contact them even further. Be sure to note how and where they can donate and support your organization.

Two Sides of a Coin: Salespeople and Fundraisers


When it comes to fundraisers, we try to differentiate ourselves from the cliché salespeople that we all know and loathe. However, as much as we can dichotomize the two professions, we have to understand that there are some strong similarities within both fields that we simply cannot overlook.

In an interesting Harvard Business Review piece titled, What Makes Great Salespeople, I could not help but correlate the two professions. Whether it is from the operational side or from the internal visions, salespeople and fundraises work are simply two sides of the same coin. While the end goal for each job may be different, the mentality and work ethics involve is incredibly similar for both positions.

Let’s start with customer engagement. As a salesperson, their job is simply not just to sell their product to their customer, but also to engage with their customers on various factors. This includes educating the customer on their products and services, talking with the customer, interacting with the customer’s account, and last but not least evaluating and researching the customer’s campaign. Similar to salespeople, we as fundraisers look to provide strong customer engagement in both educating them about the service and what their funding can do for our particular cause. In addition, fundraisers look to engage with our customers both short-term and long-term so that we can establish a stronger relationship for future philanthropic campaigns.

Outside of customer engagement, another trait both salespeople and fundraisers share is large internal network. For salespeople, they look into three different categories. The first is a more general aspect, which includes the overall number of relationships within the company and the time and effort spent interacting with their colleagues and their network. Their second refers to their support resources. This includes the set of metrics that focuses on relationship building within the support staff and sales specialist. Last but not least of course deals with management, where a set of metric concentrates on relationships built between the heads of the division and the salespeople on the floor. Similar to fundraising organizations, fundraisers look to have this general, supportive, and managerial relationship built to allot for successful donor campaigns. This allows fundraisers and the overall company to streamline various content so that their donors can better understand the process and the service that the organization is providing for their causes.

Last but not least, both salespeople and fundraisers require a strong amount of energy and passion in both their communication with their customers and donors. When asking for money, whether it is for a product, a service, or a charity, the public on the other end want to talk to someone who is incredibly enthusiastic about the vision and goals of their business. This allows for stronger customer services, well-developed visions, and long lasting customers

From these three principles’ alone, we can clearly see the similarities and resemblance that both professions share in order to be successful. While there are many more traits that we can compare, we can thoroughly understand that in order to be a strong fundraiser, you need to be a strong salesperson. Only then will you be able to see the success necessary for your cause to grow.

The Four ‘Knows’ Before Fundraising


There is no perfect formula for fundraising. But like any business, it is absolutely vital that you and your colleagues are well prepped in the logistical information in order for you to reach your big goal. For many people that goal can be a couple hundred dollars. For others that goal is a couple million, maybe even billion, dollars. Regardless of the goal, the determination to succeed all comes down to the prep work.

Below, you will find four things a person must know before they start fundraising. While you make tackle this in your own way, following these lessons can give you that leg up you need in raising money for your organization.

Know the Product

There are many passionate and personable presenters out there. But regardless of who they are, if you do not know your product, you will not get that support or for this situation, that donation. In other words, it helps to know and communicate your product or mission in a clear concise manner. Many people call this the elevator pitch. To an extent, this is just the introduction. When you talk about your product (or your organization), it is imperative that you know the founders, the background history, how the company or product came to be, why it came to be, and of course future goals. Having this as an introduction to your pitch shows that you are not only informative about your organization, but also passionate about its mission. In addition, the best way to grab someone’s attention is to answer all of his or her unanswered questions. Make sure you are to deliver that level of knowledge before you ask for their donation.

Know Your Market

When setting up various venues, meet-and-greets, or phone conversations, it is important to have an understanding of the overall market. Similar to knowing your own product, make sure you know and understand the people you are talking to. Knowing your market, or audience, has a strong advantage in how you approach each pitch and each donation. This fundamental practice gives you enough insight in how to integrate your cause for your organization. It also gives you a complete understanding on the donation you are looking to receive. For fundraising, we often find two types of investors. The first are the ‘impact investors,’ individuals who are invested in the organization’s or venture’s mission and business model. These investors measure the success of their investment and look to see the overall organization as a whole thrive. The second type of investor is what we call a ‘financial investor,’ an individual looking to partner with your business or organization to increase his or her own ROI. This type of investor is usually found with entrepreneurs or businesses rather than nonprofit organizations.

3. Know Your Numbers

This is probably the breaking point in landing a big investor or donor. Having a strong knowledge of the overall numbers for your organization can strongly affect and persuade a person in giving you money. This applies to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Just like knowing your product, you need to really understand the numbers of the organization, the industry, the market, the customers, the products, and the overall operations. Taking that into play, knowing how to handle donors money and where it can be optimized and leveraged to its fullest can ease every investor in why they need to donate. This type of easy-yet-knowledgeable communication is something people want to hear and what to see. At the end of the day, these donors want to know that they are having an impact. So show them through the numbers.

4. Know Your Pitch

Mark Twain once said that, “twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do.” Whether you realize it or not, the minute you speak about your organization, you become the face of your product and your cause. Spend time crafting your emails and changing your overall online presence. In addition, make sure you practice your pitch. At times this can be tedious, and frankly time consuming, but at the end of the day the amount of work is worth it. You want to be able to get to a point in which you can adapt and leverage your speech in specific ways for your audience. The key here is to not simply memorize your speech, but to internalize it in a more optimal way.