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The Ask: Discovering How To Open Doors

 

Of course, everyone knows someone else that you should include in the earliest review of your case. Your job is to ask who those people are and to find out if the person suggesting those names can help you secure an appointment with them. Sometimes they can help get those appointments; sometimes not.

When unable to help open a door, a reviewer may be able to suggest another who can open that door. Ask about this, take good notes, and start connecting dots about who knows whom and who has influence with whom, and why this is so.

The Ask: Seek Advice

Let’s assume you have a powerful case statement and you have the clout to get some doors open. What exactly will the “ask” look like in making first contact with potential donors?

Clearly, no one will be asking anyone else for money during a first review of your project’s case statement. NO WAY! In the beginning, you are seeking counsel and advice. Yes, your ultimate goal is to raise money, but I have found that if you want to raise serious money, you ALWAYS begin by asking for advice.

The Ask: Send the Right Person

 

Before discussing this next topic—THE ASK—I want to state a fundamental truth of all successful fundraising efforts so you can get your mind wrapped around it early. What I tell you now should be tattooed on your brain so indelibly that when you open your eyes every morning the first thing you see is this truth, flashing on and off like neon lights. This truth stated most simply is:

People give to people.

Getting Results: Benefits of Creating a Full Partnership with Donors

As you embrace accountability and begin circulating your case statement for review and start the process of earning trust, your interviewees will almost certainly ask you to expound on your hoped-for results. They will probably suggest additional ways they want you to account for the success of your project.

When these suggestions surface, be prepared to embrace them. ALWAYS get clarification about these suggestions. And ALWAYS rephrase them as questions that need an answer.

For example, say you are starting a charter school and a potential donor seems to object:

Getting Results: The Benefits of Making Your Project Accountable

I’m always amazed at the push-back I receive from clients about making their projects fully transparent and publicly accountable. Frequently, clients communicate that they just want the money from donors, not their oversight and micro-management of the project.

When I get this vibe, I want to grab these clients by the lapels and shake them! Are you kidding me? There is no such thing as a charitable project without openness and accountability.

Solving Real Problems: Making Solutions Thoughtful and Innovative

 

Elsewhere, I identified the elements of a solution every case statement must include—the need, solution, presentation of measurable benefits, and call to action. About the second, I said:

A proposed solution to meet a real and urgent need must be:

·         thoughtful

·         innovative

·         compelling.

Solving Real Problems: How Newbies Do It

In other blogs, I disclose the fundraiser’s most guarded secrets about how to create BUY-IN for any project. I call this BUY-IN process THE FARMER’S PARADIGM. Now, however, let’s talk about the success elements for solving problems and presenting solutions to others.

In building your case statement, you must present, in draft form at the very least, your best ideas for addressing the needs you identified, the needs that have grabbed you by the throat and demanded your attention. Will your proposed solution have the same impact as your need definition?

Solving Real Problems: Need for Buy-in

 

Solving Real Problems:

Need for Buy-in

 

I really love problem solving. I’m actually passionate about it and always have been. I am repelled by anyone who just wallows in negativity, unwilling to tackle problems with a solution-oriented approach to them. Yet I do understand that problems can seem insurmountable at times and overwhelm the best of us.