Get your wish – make a fundraising wish list
Not long ago, we worked with a temporary shelter for homeless families. They had mattresses, but no beds. They were buried in plastic toys, but lacked preschool supplies. They had dozens of friends and volunteers more than eager to help, but getting the bills paid was a monthly cliffhanger. The problem: they took whatever people offered and did not ask for what they really needed. They didn’t have a wish list.
A recent article from Benevon reminded us of the importance of making wishes– and of sharing your wishes with others. The article, Point of Entry – Causing the Ripple Effect does a great job of showing the potential chain-reaction impacts of good cultivation work from the donor’s point of view. (We also highly recommend the excellent Raising More Money: the Point of Entry Handbook by Terry Axelrod.)
The article stresses the critical importance of having a well-considered Wish List for every new prospect, even though it may be too early to make a direct solicitation. New friends get a copy of this list with other materials.
Just having this list in their hands immediately boosts the prospect’s perception of your organization from :”Good Cause” to “Good Cause That Knows What It Wants.” It’s a critical step toward a future conversation about how that individual can help you get what your organization and the people you serve really need to move ahead.
Be creative and thoughtful about your wish list and provide a broad range of ways for people to contribute: volunteering, in-kind goods and services to cash contributions. Even referrals. If you are hiring, let your prospects know – they may have just the right person for the job. Need new board members or a volunteer receptionist? Put those needs on your wish list, too.
Ask your colleagues to help you name things that they truly need and will happily accept and use. While in-kind contributions can be great, cash gives you far greater choice and flexibility. Put price tags on the things you want and give your donor the option of helping you buy it for yourself. Include a range of costs from that playground equipment set at $50,000 down to toys and books for $50 and $25.
You never know who will turn out to be your fairy godmother or when she’ll turn up. When she does appear, make sure she’ll know what you really need.