It might feel very un-British to ask somebody for a lot of money. But there are plenty of people out there looking to use some of their wealth to make a difference in the world.
Most charities already have a list of ‘major donors’ – people who have given significant one-off gifts. Whether they’ve given before or you’re asking them for the first time, it’s worth approaching these contacts in a unique way.
Dan from Better Story has worked in this area for many years – here are his top tips.
Find out what their passion is
Major donors really care about your cause. But every person’s motivation will be different.
Why do they want to invest their time and money in what you do? Do they have a passion for a particular country, city or people group they’ve spent time with? Or are they firm believers in a type of work you do – like microfinance, girls’ education or digging wells?
Try to find all this out before you go to them with a proposal. Match something that needs funding with their personal passion. They are likely to give a large sum to fund a tangible project.
When you know your major donors well, you will start to think: “That new education project in Malawi needs a start-up fund – Graham might be interested in that…”
Be personal and professional
Working with major donors is mostly relational. Share your own story with them too, and connect over your shared passion for your cause.
Meet them in person and be on time. Look presentable. Show you’re serious about this.
If somebody is considering funding a large part of a project, they see it as a big investment. They will want to see facts and figures and understand where the money will go and what it will achieve. Make sure you do your research and have all the numbers to hand when you meet.
Remember, most of these people have been very successful in business so don’t try to blag it with them. They know what they’re talking about!
The best thing you can do is to ask clearly for what you need. Don’t be embarrassed or apologetic about asking for a lot of money. Be bold! It communicates that the work really matters and that it really does need their investment.
Look beyond their bank account
Major donors are investing a lot in your cause and your charity. Apart from money, they may be really interested in donating their expertise or time as well. Give them the opportunity to do so – as well as helping your charity, it shows that you value them as a person aside from their cheque book.
They’ll probably want to visit the project they’re funding, or at least get regular updates on how it’s going – so think about how you could make that happen.
Invest in your relationship and they’ll invest in your work
This all takes time, but it’s time well spent – the results could be game-changing for your charity.