Fund Raising is all about telling our story in a manner that grips the people’s imagination. It needs to create excitement and thrill in the hearer. This obviously should not be manufactured, and needs to be a part of our organization. That means the same story needs to be with every member of the team so that they have the same excitement in all that they do.
The organizations activity is not the story, nor are testimonies the story, but the pain of the people that is being addressed by the organization is the story. What is the specific suffering or lack that the people are having that the organization is addressing? This is the heart of my story.
Many ministries make the mistake of reporting their activity and the results of their activity, without focusing on the pain of the people that is being addressed. The narrative must begin with the pain of the people in a vivid manner which makes a strong impact on the audience’s mind. Where possible, use should be made of pictures and videos to present the plight of the people.
So, if I am in an evangelistic ministry, I would not just say that people are lost and we are helping them to find salvation in Jesus. I need to describe the plight of people who are lost. Speak about having to battle the issues of life alone. There is only one winner in a race. How do the others who are not winners cope with their life without Jesus? The suicide rates are climbing, and reflects how people have lost hope.
If I am in a ministry working with children, we could present children as victims of society, who are misused through trafficking, or who are losing themselves in the rat race of school and studies, or are frustrated by the fear of rejection etc.
All ministries have activities, and seem very similar. It is the situation being addressed that reaches the heart of the donor, and often differentiates the ministry from others. It grabs their interest quickly, and makes them willing to listen to the narrative.
Once we have presented the situation being addressed, we then present and explain the strategy being used to address this situation. Every situation can be addressed in multiple ways, and the logic in choosing the method the ministry uses needs to be explained, again in a graphic manner. It would be an error to make this purely a logical or intellectual presentation, but we need to include the emotional and psychological aspects as well. In other words, why the recipients prefer this strategy over other strategies, and why this suits the mentality of the recipients need to be presented also.
We are helping people in a tribal area develop their own schools. We could speak of giving children an opportunity for education through running affordable schools, but many are doing just that. What would make a better impact is to share how our schools have acceptance by the tribal people since it is owned and run by them, and the teachers are also from the tribal people.
The final part of the presentation is the actual implementation of the strategy and the results, again in word pictures and where possible pictures and videos. Here again less time is spent on what you do, and more on the results of what we do. So, while I may show a few slides or pictures of the school in action, I would show more on children and parents sharing how the school is a blessing to their lives.
Is this sequence to be followed always? Not necessarily. We vary the proportion of the three parts of the story depending on the level of involvement of the audience or contact. With those who are first time contacts our focus is more on their heart, to get their interest in our work. To those who are donors, our focus is more on the head, to strengthen their vision for the work we are doing. With those who have been long term donors, we don’t need to tell them the story as they already know it. Rather, we brainstorm with them to get their ideas on how the ministry should progress. Our focus is on building a relationship with them.
So, with new contacts who are not aware of the ministry, we are very strong on the situation we are addressing and share a quick testimony of how this situation has been relieved for the people or a person. These new contacts are often interacted with in a large group meeting, or medium sized meeting rather than one on one. As a follow-up we leave them with our contact details and a simple brochure of the ministry, designed for first time contacts, that inform about the situation being addressed and has a short testimony. It needs to be brief, as they are people who have not yet bought into the ministry, and so may not have the time or the interest to do much reading.
The second are those who have donated to the organization and are aware of what the organization does. Here we are strengthening the vision he has for the work being done, and we focus more on explaining the strategy and the implementation of the strategy. The focus is on the mind of the donor and obtaining his intellectual commitment to the vision and activity of the organization. There must be a reinforcement of their understanding of the pain of the people being addressed and a clear explanation of the strategy and the reason for adopting that strategy. The impact on the people being served should also be presented not only through testimonies but by hard analysis of data. In other words, if I were running a school for the underprivileged, not only would we have testimonies from children and parents, but we would also present data on increase in levels of education in the people group, either in terms of number of graduates or percentages or any other data. To this audience costs and break up of expenditure can also be shared, so that they understand what is the cost of each component of the strategy. Then they will be able to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the program.
The third are those who have been committed to the organization for some time, and have been donors for a few years. Here we focus more on the donor and listen to his views as he already knows the organization. So, here we do more brain storming into his views and ideas on how to address the situation of the people and strategize better to be more effective. We also discuss with them their vision and how we could help them fulfil their vision. We further need to remember that these are now friends, and so we must discuss with them their concerns about their family, their business and other issues, so that we can pray for them intelligently. They need to see us as friends rather than business associates.
With effective planning of our communication along these lines we should be able to tell a good story that raises adequate finances for our ministry.