With the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin’s (JLCD) impact stretching over 72 years–launching and supporting many staple organizations, we have a strong case for support for developing the potential of women and improving our community with the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Our positive outcomes are staggering.
Yet, we have an opportunity for greater financial support in both our annual operations and within our foundation. With JLCD proving time and again to be a pillar of our community, our sustainability is imperative.
Some of the most common reasons Leaguers (or anyone who is advocating on behalf of a nonprofit) shy away from asking for financial support is fear (of asking and rejection), confusion of asking on behalf of oneself versus the mission, and not knowing the amount for which to ask or how to compose an effective request.
- Make your own personal or company’s financial gift first. Being able to speak from your own commitment enables you to ask others to join It speaks volumes about the value of what you are asking others to support. There is confidence gained in asking others what you are willing to do yourself.
- Know the why. Be sure you understand the mission. Know some of our success stories. Think about how developing women has led to a specific impact. Reflect upon your own experience in the League. Be prepared to represent the League as so much more than the myth of it being a social club. On the flip side, an effective request isn’t a one-way street. Learn about the philanthropic priorities or marketing goals of the individual/company from which you are requesting support. Tailor your “why” to their reasons to give.
- Remind yourself on whose behalf you are asking. Although the fundraising adage states “people give to people,” when we ask for money to support our cause we are not asking for the money for ourselves. Rather, we are advocating on behalf of others who often are not in a position to access the support they need, or we are asking for the greater good of the whole of the community. In the case of the Junior League, we aren’t only asking to support the development of women who are current members, but rather the rippling impact the development of women has on our community economically and as a thriving place to live. There is no guilt or shame in the desire to improve our community for all.
- Do your research and prepare. People who have supported a mission in the past are most likely to give again (if we have worked to continue that relationship). The average household supports 4-5 charitable causes each year–consider people in your network who philanthropically support like-minded causes. To garner new support, first get to know the person and what motivates them philanthropically before making a request. By the time the conversation of financial support makes its way to the table, you should have more confidence in knowing that the person is likely to support your cause.
- Be specific, confident, and unapologetic. Many times when we’ve finally mustered the courage to talk about our cause to a potential donor they beat us to the punch and ask, “How much do you need?” We can be left dumbfounded and unprepared. Always know what initiatives are in need of support, how to quantify the impact of specific amounts of support, and what the vision of the League is that would constitute substantial gifts. Be specific with your request. Avoid the comfort zone of “whatever you can give.” Ask unequivocally for what is needed and stand unapologetically in the confidence that JLCD is a great steward of finances and our impact is unparalleled. Make your request and wait for the response. Give the donor the time they need for serious consideration. Follow up until a final decision has been made.
Many categorically small nonprofits operate with a lean staff which can prohibit the bandwidth of fundraising. Volunteers become the deciding factor of how much revenue growth an organization can accomplish.
With JLCD being volunteer-led, it is critical that we all sharpen our fundraising skills to further the good we can accomplish.
Natalie Root is the Administrative VP of the Junior League Clearwater-Dunedin. She founded The Root Agency to help philanthropy Take Root and Grow. For more fundraising tips visit www.therootagency.com.