Serving on a board?  Helping plan a special event?  Volunteering to fundraise?  No matter the fundraising task, there are certain essentials for success.  Before you ask anyone to support the cause or even begin discussing money, there are 3 important tools to put in your fundraising tool kit.

  1. Personal Case Expression
  2. Elevator Speech
  3. Value-Based Conversation

1. Personal Case Expression: Explain why you are involved in the organization.  There are so many ways you could be spending your time – why did you choose this organization?  The questions below may help inspire your thinking.

  • What first attracted you to the organization?
  • What has made you stay with the organization?
  • Why this organization – and not another nonprofit?
  • What values do you share with the organization?
  • How does the organization impact you?
  • How do you impact the organization?
  • How does the organization impact your community?

2. Elevator Speech: Briefly share about the organization.  Assess the effectiveness of your elevator speech with the criteria below.

  • Clarity: Does your elevator speech make sense to a new acquaintance who is unfamiliar with you and the organization?
  • Brevity:  Have you completed the elevator speech by the time you reach your floor?
  • Compelling:  Is your elevator speech persuasive enough to convince listeners to learn more or get involved?
  • Memorable:  Can you make a positive, lasting impression with your elevator speech?
  • Conversational:  Even though it’s a “speech” to a captive audience, does your elevator speech seem natural?

3. Value-based Conversation:  Express the work of the organization through its values not its operations.  It’s fine to understand the “how’s,” but focus on the “why’s”?

  • First, begin with a statement of belief.
  • Second, identify the issue that inhibits this belief (or vision) from becoming a reality.
  • Third, affirm the organization’s role in addressing this issue – bringing the vision closer to reality.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate the value-based conversation.

  • “I believe every child deserves a quality education.”
  • “Unfortunately, many families and school systems lack the necessary resources for basic school supplies (like pencils, paper, and books).”
  • “Providing basic school supplies, Indianapolis Public School Education Foundation helps students learn and benefit from education opportunities.”

This is much more interesting than a summary of an organization’s operations.  Does the following information compel you to get involved?

  • Founded in 1984, the Foundation supports Indianapolis Public Schools.
  • School staff complete applications to receive necessary funds for clasroom resources.
  • The foundation approves those requests that comply with criteria.

So, volunteer fundraisers, keep focused on the real reasons you are involved and clearly express those shared values with others!  What other tools do you put in your fundraising tool kit?  Please leave a comment with your favorite tool!

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