Monday, April 9, 2012

Portland Society April Meeting

Wednesday morning we settled into the beautiful Nutcase Helmets offices with coffee and treats delivered by Portland Pedal Power. As usual, we went around the circle and did our "honk your own horn" introductions. It's fun to brag and listen to others brag. Everyone applauds and cheers for each one. Best of all, we learned that a Society based on our Portland Society model has just started up in Washington, D.C.

Breesa Culver, the illustrious fundraiser for the Community Cycling Center, did a presentation for us that she called "making the ask". She focused on fundraising tips and tricks. These tidbits can be helpful in raising money for lots of different events - the PTA, your race team - you name it.

Breesa started out by asking about our childhood associations with money. There were a wide variety of answers from "secret", "divided into buckets", "bill pay night was tense" and "money = jeans". She explained that the worst case scenario of making a fundraising request is that the requestee will say no, which is not so terrible. She provided us with a blueprint for "making the ask". It looks like this:

1) Passion isn't optional. Believe in what you're doing. If you don't, figure out a way to get passionate about it or simply find something else you do care about.

2) Define your need. Create a budget and a plan for how to get there. This includes creating giving and reward levels.

3) Identify potential donors. Start with your personal and professional networks and cast a wide net. That said, plan to approach allied / related businesses. You want the donor to be engaged in the cause too.

4) Have a story in your pocket. Breesa told us how the first time she donated to Urban Gleaning, the driver pulled snapshots out of her pocket to show. Urban Gleaning is a non-profit that collects extra event food and distributes it to needy children/families at local schools. The photos showed smiling kids holding donated food.

5) Practice your ask. Rehearse a script with a friend. Learn to articulate your passion. Remember people are flattered to be asked. Be specific in what you need. It's better to ask in person but if you can't meet, try phoning before e-maiiling. Do your asks in "bursts" instead of spacing it out. You get warmed up and better at asking as you go!

6) Thank your donors profusely. Thank them more than you think they want to be thanked. Thank them in person. Send a thank you letter. Have someone else in the organization write or call to thank them.

7) Get creative with donor recognition. Invite donors to the event. Send them a handmade card. Bring them cookies!

I plan to use these lessons in my fundraising for Tour de Cure. We'll see how it goes!

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