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VOL. 127 | NO. 146 | Friday, July 27, 2012

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Build an Advantage By Creating Talking Points

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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You just said yes to fundraising for an organization you believe in. It could be your child’s school, your alma mater, a local hospital or an advocacy organization. You felt confident you could help when you took on the task, but now, upon reflection, you wonder what you have gotten yourself into.

Before you look for a way to get out of your commitment, take a moment to remember why you said yes and the impact you will make by asking others to give.

Here’s a fact that can help calm your fundraising nerves: asking for a donation takes place after you have had the opportunity to talk with your friends and associates about your organization and the reason why you give. If you have agreed to help with electronic fundraising you will be communicating online, but the principles are the same.

So, before you get nervous about asking for money, think about all the good your organization does.

Next step: create your talking points. Complete the following three sentences as a way to get started. “I am committed to my organization because … .” “The think I like best about my alma mater is … .” “I am most impressed by … .”

These three points can serve as your emotional hook. With fundraising you want to combine emotions with facts. Facts you may want to communicate include the fundraising financial goal; how the funds raised will be used; the number of people served; and, most importantly, the organization’s quantifiable impact – locally, regionally and nationally as appropriate. Include any recent awards or recognition received. Learn who the board members are, and where the majority of funding comes from.

Before you go “live,” practice your talking points. Write out your ideas. Say them out loud. Read what you wrote; listen; revise. The more you practice the more comfortable you will feel and the more knowledgeable you will be. These practice sessions will inform your conversations as well as your tweets, Facebook postings and LinkedIn updates.

These talking points are your first step. They provide confidence in fundraising because they move you beyond a passionate belief in your organization into a position of being an informed advocate and solicitor. We suggest this process because it engages your heart and your mind in making the case for giving to a cause you believe in. It reduces fear and increases success.

Here’s what we have learned: many people are passionate about organizations they give to and volunteer with. However, many cannot articulate why someone else should give or volunteer. Their passion is sufficient to sustain their giving and involvement, but not enough to engage others. When you have a set of talking points you can answer questions, engage in meaningful conversation, and most importantly communicate facts and feelings that influence a giving decision.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They provide fundraising counsel to Memphis, the Mid-South and the nation. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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