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Successful Fundraising- Expert Insights

Successful Fundraising- Expert Insights

Let’s get a peek behind the scenes from some of our experienced fundraisers, and hear their tips on what it takes to be a successful fundraiser. I’m Dr. Bijal Mehta. This is Mickey Doshi. KVS Manian I am Sankara Raman. Manish Kothari Meera Mehta Shanti Ekambaram Lerato Mashile Shailesh Waghle Jayanti Shukla Raja Sudhan It all starts with you registering and creating
a fundraising page on the United Way Mumbai website. These pages are super easy to set up and have
various features to help you fundraise. Now, let’s understand how fundraising works. First, does it take any special qualifications
to be a fundraiser? You don’t really have to be qualified. I think you have to have passion for your project. This must be something that resonates with you. The strongest qualification has to be a very
strong intent to do it. I don’t think a fundraiser really has any
special qualifications or characteristics. I think each one of us has the capacity to
be a fundraiser. In short, no! You don’t need any special qualifications. But over the years we’ve learned that all
successful fundraisers have three essential qualities. Ask yourself: Do you know people? Or at least 10 people who you can
reach out to without hesitation? Do you think you have enough goodwill within
your circles for people to support you? Know this: people give to people. And third, would you have the confidence
to ask for donations on behalf of the cause you support? If you answered yes to those three questions,
you have everything it takes. Next, let’s talk about the asking. It’s simple really; no one gives
unless you ask. Don’t feel shy; you’re doing it for a cause. And, think of the end game, think of the joy
you’re going to bring to that organisation who you’ve raised money for. Do not be scared to approach people, because
there are so many people in the world that want to contribute and they want to give
their time, money whatever, to all of these good causes, but they just
don’t know how. So you can be that medium through which they
can actually contribute. First time, I was having the same feeling
of being shy to ask the people. Then the second year I felt that I am doing
something for the well being of others, so why should I get shamed. The young children who fundraise for the NGO,
they make small cakes, they save their money, some of them do collection of newspapers,
and they sell, and they save money. One of my child has gone to a watchman, and
the watchman gave a 50 rupee note. The child was very happy, but the watchman
was so happy that the child at least considered him worthy of giving. So I feel everybody, every human being has,
that thing about giving. So you should ask anyone and everybody. So if you find yourself hesitating, remember
you are giving others the opportunity to make a contribution to a cause that matters to
you, something they would be unable to do if you hadn’t started this fundraiser. You are their conduit of change! Now, let’s get to the strategy. There are 3 basic components to a
fundraising campaign. The plan, the ask, and the thank you. It pays to be organised! Signing up to be a fundraiser is not a full
time job but it does require time and effort. The plan involves structuring your campaign,
setting your campaign target, and sending out your appeal within your network. Even I don’t have the time to go and spend
in the NGO, to actually work directly on the cause. So I am trying to find a means by which I
can support that cause which does not require that level of investment of time. I spend some time on it, yes, of course, in
making the lists, chasing people to support your cause, it requires some time, but it
surely requires less time than actually working on the cause. And the donors are doing the next step right. They are the ones who are saying I don’t
have time even for that, but at least let me support through money. Let me use these people who are fundraisers
as a means to support the cause. So if you have chosen the second part, that
is the fundraiser part, obviously you have to spend some time on it. Start with getting to know your cause – there’s
no substitute for genuineness. Visit the organisation, get to know their
work and understand how they are changing lives. Find a cause you’re passionate about. I think that’s very important. Don’t just pick a name, go, understand,
go into depth and find out the work that they do. Next, set a target that is realistic for you – find that
sweet spot – a figure that is achievable yet challenging. You know, working in the financial sector
for a long time, and particularly at Kotak, it all starts with a target. I believe that you must set a target for yourself,
and if you set a target for yourself, your aim always has to be, to beat the target. It helps to organise your contacts. Create a master list of everyone you know,
by compiling your contacts from various sources into a single document. When I first started fundraising, it was actually
pretty haphazard. But then, as I grew in my fundraising, I realized
that doing it in a structured manner is so much better. So when I first start my campaign, I first
create a list of people that I would like to reach out to. My first list is the list of my family members
and a close circle of friends. My second list would be my colleagues, and
the third list would be the larger group of people I interact with on social media, or
my professional circles. Now to make the all-important ask. Your ask can be witty, informal, emotional,
or matter-of-fact. What is essential, is that you make it as
personal as possible. A one-on-one meeting works better than a phone
call, which works better than a text message. My strategy is to blanket all my contacts,
reach out to as many as possible, hoping that the strike rate remains high. There was quite a lot of information available
with me, so the first thing that I did was to collate all this information
and make it easy for strangers to understand, so that they can relate. Second, I had a list of people who potentially
would donate for me. My first pitch to family would be
more personal, and therefore the tone of the mail also would be personal and I could write
in a more familial way. With friends, again, it would have a little
bit of a different touch, because the relationship there would be different. If they’ve already supported me in an earlier
year, then I would make reference to that, and tell them that, look, this is what we
were able to achieve, in the earlier year, and would you like to support me again this year. And when I reach out to people that I have
not been in contact with, it’s a little more formal, because I need to give them a
little bit more of an introduction about why is it I’m reaching out to them and why is
it that I feel that they should be supporting me. So therefore the messaging keeps changing
depending on the people I’m reaching out to. The primary method to reach out to
my donors is emails. I try and personalise them. And the ones who I do know have been consistent
supporters of both the causes I support as well as supporters of me, I reach out to them
personally on the phone. The big donors, and important
donors, I contact them over the phone, and keep interacting with them, not only once
or twice, but on many occasions. Not only about the donations, but also on
various important functions, or celebrations, like Diwali, Sankaranti, New Year and all. So this keeps the communication going with
the donor. I fundraised for the first time when
I was thirteen years old, and at that time my target was Rs. 1.5 lakhs. So at that time I must have reached out to maybe 20 people on a one on one basis. But every year I kept on increasing my target. So the next year I raised 5 lakhs, the year
after that I raised 10 lakhs and so on. So as I kept on increasing my target, I approached
more and more people. There are always all kinds of people. There are some people who will be very forthcoming. You write one mail and they will respond and
say that they will do it. Some of them will respond saying that they
will do it, but forget it, and then they might need a reminder. Some people, even to think about donating
will require probably 2 or 3 mails. Most of us I guess are extremely busy. So only a mail or one single WhatsApp message
can definitely miss people’s attention. I have got donors who could not give me,
and felt so bad, that next year in April itself, they called me up, saying I couldn’t give
you last time, I and I was really happy with what you are doing so first thing,
I thought of giving you. Asking is not a once-and-done process. Sometimes it takes multiple follow ups to
get a response from a donor. Just make sure you don’t pester someone
who has said a firm no, and don’t use guilt to convince people. So once you’ve made the effort and your
contributions come in and your numbers start climbing, what’s next? Thanking your donors! In the period between November to
January end, I love when that mail pops up “United Way of India” and I quickly look
to see, oh who’s contributed? So, excitement, like I said, even for a 500
or a 5000 rupees. Any amount is exciting because it adds to
the corpus. So I think, if you ask me, every email I receive
in that period, and you receive a lot, because if 600 people contribute, there’s that many emails. I’m always excited and the first thing I get up
in the morning and say, who’s contributed at night? Your donors are the people that make
your projects come to realisation, to fruition. Therefore it’s very important that you thank them,
that you write those thank you letters, no matter how tedious they might seem. But it leaves a lasting memory, and it makes
sure that next year, they can also still come back and sponsor your project. Make sure that every single donor is acknowledged,
because that goes a long way. People appreciate it when you come back to
them, on a one to one basis. One of the important best ways
to keep the relationship with the donor is how you utilise their contribution and their donation. We have to tell them not only how much of
this money has been spent for a particular project, or how much of the money has been
used for maintenance of the child, etc. But we also should say how much of an impact
it has made on the society, on the people whom we are serving. This may be, increase in the education and
literacy, improvement in the physical conditions of a child who has been rehabilitated, and
so many other factors. And that, in a nutshell, is how you can
ace the fundraising game. Lead by example. Make the first donation yourself. This will lend credibility to your ask and
encourage more donors. Being organised pays off. Making your database
and reaching out to your network will be a concentrated effort of about 4 weeks. Try and get most of your donations within
this time frame, when you are most enthusiastic and motivated. Be everywhere. Use all the avenues you can
to talk about your campaign. Change your social media profile pictures,
get a sticker put on your car, print a t-shirt. Make it impossible for people to miss your
campaign. 100% win. On the United way Mumbai platform 100%
of funds raised online, go to the NGO. No payment gateway charges, no taxes, nothing. Be sure to tell your donors. Get creative. You can use different ways to
raise funds for your campaign. You can host a dinner party with a ticket
price, sell your old books at a garage sale, or offer your services in exchange for donations. And finally, some last words. Never lose hope. Never lose your patience. Continue reaching out to people. There will be a lot of people who would say no. But after all of those no’s there will be
one person who would say yes, and that will excite you and that will get you to more places,
you will reach out to more people. Come forward, and in whatever way, whichever
way you can, touch the humanity. Do something good for the well being of the
nearby people. I think raising money, I’ve realised, not
necessarily today, but even 20 years ago, has always been very hard. So I think the main thought going through
my mind always has been, “Will I be able to raise the money?
Will the organisation be able to raise money?” And, it’s a challenge every year, but it’s
a challenge worth fighting for. Be passionate about the cause you are
raising money for. I think that will go a long way in convincing
your donor to give money to you. All the best, have fun, don’t be
too serious. I am sure that, any number that you
have in mind, is possible Do aim higher, every year. All the very best, just remember
that when you’re fundraising, you are doing it for a cause. Go and ask anyone and everyone, and
evoke the feeling, make them experience the joy of giving. Move! Register for the Mumbai Marathon; identify
a cause, set a target, and start. And you would really love it. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is. Download the super successful fundraiser guide
from your fundraiser dashboard. It is a distillation of everything that we
know works. Good luck!

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