More and more, I think I…

More and more, I think I need to learn something about fundraising. Learn it properly, I mean, in a class or something. Because there are many cool projects I like creating and doing and being part of and supporting. And I know a lot of people, some of whom, even in this economy, have some spare change they could give to a worthy cause. If I just asked them for it, they would give. But I am shatteringly anxious about doing 'the ask'.

The whole process embarrasses me and makes me awfully uncomfortable and I have no good idea about how to do this asking-for-money-for-good-causes thing in a way that leaves both me and the potential donor feeling good and comfortable about the interaction (regardless of whether they actually donate money or not). I am a nexus, I know that, and I am in a position to potentially be a huge help to some great organizations. If I can figure out how to do it better.

For example, I'd like to invite people to my house, to talk about supporting DesiLit and the Kriti Festival; I'd hoped to make it free to the public next time around, which means more fundraising up front. But I don't even know what the Evite should look like. "Please support us?" "Bring your checkbook?" Are there standard catchphrases one should use? I don't know. I think there must be language that would make this easier.

Tomorrow I'm probably going to participate in a fundraising brainstorming lunch for the Carl Brandon Society. Maybe we can figure a bit of this out there.

7 thoughts on “More and more, I think I…”

  1. An acquaintance of mine threw a fundraiser dinner at her home to raise money for an orphanage in India. I don’t know many of the details, but I think it was one of those dealies where people got invited and the cost was $X per plate.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Catherine, I think that’s one of the things I’d like to learn how to do, but I’ve actually never been invited to one of those things; I don’t even know what the invitation actually looks like. This is probably a stupid thing to get hung up on, but somehow, it’s stopping me.

    Lori, I’d love to talk about it sometime — I didn’t know you did fundraising. Is that part of your current job, or something you did before, or both?

  3. I can talk to you about it too. I’ve learned a bit about it over the years and I’ve actually come to love doing “the ask” as a public speech (a little harder one on one, but I can do that too).

    I’ve used this book on grassroots fundraising — great, easy to read, and has templates, to-do checklists, etc (including I think sample invitations):—Step-Fundraising/dp/0787978051/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306533352&sr=1-4
    We raised $8000 with a single event (a performance, not a house party, combining at-the-door proceeds and individual “major donor” asks) — largely by following the best practices set out in this book. It was a lot of work and for a big event I’d recommend having a small committee to do the planning and implementation. A house party is easier because you routinely cook feasts 🙂 and everyone you know will be excited to show up for that, checkbooks in hand.

    And yes, you do say “bring your checkbook”!

    Kim Klein’s fundraising books are also good.

    And this looks helpful:

    I may be in your area in August. Do you want to do a house party then?


  4. Until this job, basically, I’ve always specialized in development communications. I’ve picked up some fundamentals that might get you started.

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