Exercise and fundraising.

What do these activities have in common?

At first glance, very little.

But they take on a special meaning for a client of mine named Thea Wood, founder and President of Backstage Chats Foundation, a wonderful organization doing transformative work around music and gender equality. She groups them together as the activities she tackles first thing in the morning before moving on to the work that inspires her, drives her and what she’s most passionate about: amplifying the voices of women in music — both the entertainers as well as the industry itself.  

If you’re a leader for a small or a newer organization, taking a regimented approach to your fundraising efforts (much like daily exercise) can be invaluable.

For example, blocking out an hour of your day for person-to-person fundraising activities can be transformational.

There’s an important distinction here: I’m not talking about fundraising-related activities, i.e. writing grants, managing social media, etc. While these are important activities, they don’t involve the definitive work of development: cultivating relationships and sharing your mission with others. Rather, this hour is dedicated to true one-on-one fundraising work with real people and where you’re speaking as opposed to emailing or texting.  

To get started:

  • Create a list of your most unlikely prospects: Yes, you read that correctly. Think of both your inner and outer circles. Who has no interest in your cause? Who has limited resources? You get the picture. You’re looking for those folks where there’s a pretty limited probability of a yes.  
  • Create your pitch: Here’s the fun in this: It doesn’t have to be perfect (yet!) Enjoy being a beginner in figuring what you need to say to get prospective donors excited. This is your chance to articulate who your organization is, what you do, why you need funding to do it and of utmost importance, why you believe the individual or organization you’re speaking to would have an interest in supporting you.
  • AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL…PRACTICE your pitch on them! Regardless of their potential for donating to your organization, these are still live beings that will give you real time response, questions and feedback on your pitch. And who knows? They may even surprise you with a donation, interest in volunteering or serving in another capacity.

This is an invaluable practice to start now. The cool thing is that by the time you’re starting to find high-quality prospects, you’ll be getting good, comfortable and articulate. The only difference would be that you may have a shorter transition from the lesser-quality to the higher-quality prospects.

And much like exercise, it gets easier over time.

Give it a try, in just an hour a day! 

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