Everyone needs money you know, because money is a tool we exchange for value. Though there are so many definitions of money, for me, my definition is what I just stated – A tool we exchange for value. Fundraising in a lay man definition means how to find or gather money, especially for a project. Fundraising is a soft skill and It is necessary for you (as an entrepreneur, change agent or whatsoever) to develop this skill, because you will need it when you want to start a project, a business/ business expansion, education ETC. No man is an island, so it’s okay to reach out when it is necessary.
Over the years, since The Jewel Empowerment Foundation started, I have practically developed my fundraising skills, because starting a charity organization at 19 years old was just too much for me to handle financially. As much as I was passionately about helping the less privileged, I needed money to execute each project. Fundraising is not “fine bara” (that’s a local term for unrepentant beggars), it’s an important skill that organizations look out for in individuals(employees), and they (organizations) get this funds in form of grants, donations, sponsorship, savings, loan, ETC.
In the face of this pandemic- Covid-19, where the world economic situation is unstable, this is the best time to develop your fundraising skill. Even after learning some hard skills or trade, and you want to start your business, you need startup capital, how do you get it? That’s why this topic is very important. Some people feel bad about asking others for money, because you think it makes you feel inadequate or incompetent; but I tell you, if you are on a course obviously bigger than you, reaching out for financial aid is not a bad idea, provided your intentions are genuine. When in need, some people scroll through their contacts on their phone countless times and they can’t just find one person that can be an assistant to them at that point in time. In one of my posts (Five Ways to Develop Your Network), you will understand why I said your network is your wealth. You should read it if you haven’t, it will help you.
I am just going to drop a few points on how to raise funds for your project. First
- It Must Be Valuable– People will only part away with their hard earned money for a project that is of value to yourself, to them, society and/or the world generally. What is the significance of the project? What problem is it solving? How sustainable is it? Have you gained relevant skills or knowledge to be able to handle the financial resources that you need? (I need money, I need money; if you get 100 Million Naira at a go for a project, can you handle it? Will you multiply and make a good use of it?) Make sure whatever you intend to raise funds for has value and it can stand the test of time. As a matter of fact, share the project with mostly people that believe in the value that project has to offer. Some potential donors may not know the value of the project to them until you help them identify it, so be sure to highlight the benefits and the impacts the project would make when you approach them for funds.
- Be Genuine and Unique– A lot of people come up with jack and bull stories every day, all in the name of fundraising. That person you want to approach has probably heard stories such as yours countless times, and he or she might have parted with some money but didn’t get the expected result. If you want people to take you seriously, you have to be genuine with your intentions and be specific. Fine, your story may be similar with others but you must find your own unique selling point. Tender your budget, make sure the prices are just what it is and not inflated. State out your processes and how you intend to overcome unforeseen challenges. Be consistent with your story, figures and approach. You may be asked the same question in different ways and your answers are expected to be the same. The potential donors are listening adequately and the moment they can trust you, that’s it. Be sure to live up to expectations. If you had messed up in the past, it may be difficult earning people’s trust.
- Your Network(You need to read my post on developing your network)- After you have found value for your project (what you need money for)and you’re being genuine with your intentions, then is the need to reach out- send out your request to those who can help with the financial resources needed. Some people don’t even have better contacts on their phone. You need to have an associated and/or established relationship with people who are financially buoyant than you are and that can help you when in need. Who are these people? First is family- they are your primary contacts and they know you well enough to entrust resources into your hands. You see your parents, siblings or that rich uncle or that your wealthy aunt that is doing so well in her business or work, those are your potential donors, investors, ETC. If you use the little given to you very well, I promise you that you will get more. How do you connect with people who are not your family to assist you with what you need? We meet people everywhere and everyday; and there are those we call ‘connectors’- they consciously or unconsciously connect you with those that can offer the help that you need. The connectors are among your friends, they see what you do, they believe in you, they love your passion and positive spirit and they are willing to introduce you to some other people that may have more financial capacity(or other relevance) than them in order for you to execute your project. You meet people on social media, conferences, events, schools, neighborhoods and the likes. A tip for you- always have something at hand doing, so when you meet new people, you have something tangible to say about yourself. You can also put your project into a write up (proposal) and take it to organizations, companies, government ministries, agencies or well meaning individuals for support both in kind and cash. In the process of doing this, you build your contacts from these places. By the time you send out a request to one thousand people, at least ten people will give you a positive response.
- Learn to Pitch- You may be called at any point in time to defend your proposal/ project/business or whatever you need money for. You should learn a ten minute speech of what your project is about, its purpose, aim and objectives. Learn to sell yourself very well within this ten minute speech, some meetings may even take less time, so be prepared. Talk about what you’ve done in the past and how this new project will suit your plans for the future. Rehearse over and over again until it becomes a part of you.
- You Must Have Certain Percentage of What You Need– In raising funds, don’t expect to get all that you need from people. You need to have at least twenty percent (20%) of the total amount of your need, which you can get by saving. As a matter of fact, it is what you do with that 20% that may propel others to believe in your project and give towards it. Don’t ever approach anyone empty handed. What you’ve been able to do with the little you have may serve as your bragging right and people can come to trust you.
- Ensure You Do Proper Follow Up– A proper follow up is sending a reminder email, call, text message or broadcast. After you have established the request with people, you should follow up by giving them an update, which could also mean a progress report. Along the line, you might have gotten more money to add to the existing 20% that you already have, and you might have gradually started executing your project. You need to continuously update those that have given you some money, on how you’ve been spending the money meaningfully, and also let others who are yet to give you any money know you are making progress and that there’s still room for them to give their support. Some people just want to see how serious you are about the project and how much effort you’re putting into it. Remember to start your fundraising as early as possible, so you can give your potential donors some time to include you in their budget. In following up, don’t become a nuisance. Those who truly want to give will do. Don’t call or send messages to the point that your contact will be barred. I can suggest a message or call per week would go a long way. And make sure you have a progress report to give while on the call or in your message.
- Gratitude– Learn to say ‘Thank You’; for those who are faithful with little, more shall be added. Being appreciative of people’s gesture towards your request, even if you get a negative response, may propel them to a positive action. And for those that gave, sending thank you notes will also make them want to give more next time. Make sure you don’t only remember these people (donors/investors) when you are in need; send a happy new month message, call to check on their well-being, family and health. Invest in the relationship and do more than just asking for a request. Pray for them, their businesses and be willing to contribute your own positive quota to their lives.
This is a masterpiece, and I wish you success in all your endeavors. If you find this write-up very useful, kindly hit the like button, share and/or comment, I can’t wait to get your feedback.