I. FUNDRAISING BASICS: Get R.E.A.L.! Research
II. RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT: Blackbaud’s Conference on Philanthropy


I. FUNDRAISING BASICS: Get R.E.A.L.!
I love asking people for money! I like to think of the fundraiser as holding an electrical cord (the donor’s interests) and facing a wall of outlets (various aspects of the fundraiser’s organization). The fundraiser’s job is to get to know the donor well enough to know which outlet fits the electrical cord’s prongs. When the fundraiser plugs it in by asking for the gift, *bang* power flows!

Oddly, not everyone is as eager to ask for money as I am. It seems like “asking for money” outranks “public speaking” and “untimely death” on the list of most feared things!

My experience leads me to believe that most of this fear is fear of the unknown. Most of us aren’t brought up asking for money so we don’t realize we can be exactly who we are and still be successful fundraisers. So I’ve developed a simple formula to help neutralize the fear.

A SIMPLE FORMULA
In my seminars and trainings, I tell my audiences to get “R.E.A.L.” R.E.A.L is a simple four step formula I created to help people get as excited about asking for money as I am.

The four steps are:
1. Research,
2. Engage,
3. Ask, and
4. Love ’em.

I’m writing a book on these but I wanted each of you to see a simple way to help board members, volunteers, even yourself(!) overcome this fear by touching on each of these in the ezine and blog over the coming weeks. Let’s start with taking a quick look at research.

RESEARCH
I think most people are afraid of asking for money because they don’t have a clue how the prospective donor will respond. That’s why we need to do our homework before we ask.

Find out as much as you can about the person you’re going to meet. One way is to send all your database information to a vendor that specialized in prospect research and modeling. Groups like Blackbaud Analytics do this all the time. They have access to large amounts of public information. And they have formulas for knowing how to quantify that information.

This information can be like gold to your organization. It’s helping me cut my annual fund mailings from 14,000 records to about 4,000! Think of the savings in production and postage!

This can seem like an incredibly expensive step if you’re not used to having a budget for prospect research. An alternative is to try using some simple, free tools like at Google.com. Type the person’s name in the Google search box and see what comes up. It may be helpful to put their name in quotes and spell out the state you live in to narrow the search. For a treasure trove of similar tools, check out the University of Vermont’s Research Tools Page.

The point of research isn’t to be prying or snooping around. You’re not the FBI. Research helps the donor as much as it helps you. For instance, if you found out they’ve written editorials against your cause, you won’t waste their time asking them to support it! Research also helps you feel more secure about your ask before you even get in front of the donor.

One warning: don’t get “analysis paralysis.” A prospect isn’t going to make a gift just because a development person has done research. You’ve still got to ask! We’ll get to that in a few weeks.

Next week we’ll look at a couple more ways to do prospect research–peer reviews and, what I call, the CPI index.

II. RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT: Blackbaud’s Conference on Philanthropy
I love Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge. This year, the fundraising folks in our healthcare system are going to Blackbuad’s Conference on Philanthropy next month.

Are you going? Or do you live in Charleston, SC?

I’d love to connect over a cup of coffee while I’m down there.

Drop me a line at marc@fundraisingcoach.com

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