Your Cause as Investment Opportunity
Whether you use brochures, videos, personalized proposals, telemarketing scripts, solicitations letters, newsletters, social media or all of the above, potential donors and sponsors to your cause typically want to know specific information about you before contributing. Donations and sponsorships are investments. Unlike investing in stocks or other financial vehicles, investing in your cause is meant to generate a positive return for society and/or a promotional return for the contributor. Despite these differences, the key to successfully securing funds from both sets of investors rests, in large part, on answering two overarching questions:
- What level of value will you provide thanks to the investment?
- Why is your organization and project the one to deliver that value?
Providing Value: Value to Society
Every cause either helps people or animals. Even causes that do not directly focus on people such as some environmental organizations do so for the benefit of people such as future generations. It is important that you make this people (or animal) link as strongly as possible. Furthermore, potential supporters want to know the value to people you have or will have on three levels:
- The value of your organization
- The value of the project in question
- The value of their specific contributions.
At all three levels, you need to answer questions such as:
- How many people benefit?
- How greatly does each person benefit on average and in what ways?
- How long does the benefit last?
- What are some very specific examples of individuals that have or will benefit?
Providing Value: Value to the Sponsor or Donor
Even the anonymous donor or sponsor has a reason for giving. It is important to understand the motivations of people that will support you and to address those drivers. Sponsors typically seek marketing benefits, while donors may seek the good feelings that come from being generous, recognition or direct benefit from the work being conducted. For further background, see Six Reasons Donors Give Their Money Away and Why Companies Will Sponsor You.
Your Ability: Resources to Deliver
When investing in stocks, you are typically advised to judge the abilities of the management team. While this is not always as explicit with sponsors and donors, they too want to know your team is up to the task. You also want to address any other resources you have or need that are vital to fulfilling your mission. You need to answer questions such as:
- Do you have the facilities you need?
- Do you have the working capital required (cash reserves)?
- Do you have the institutional expertise required?
- Does your organization have a relevant and proven track record?
- Why are you the logical organization to conduct the project?
Your Ability: A Sound Plan
In addition to having the resources you need to succeed, you must also demonstrate you have the plan to achieve success in effect what your business plan is. Like when you demonstrate your value, your plan must be presented on three levels:
- Your organization’s strategic plan.
- The operational plan for the project being presented.
- The plan for the funds being requested.
Key elements of your plan include the following:
- Your overall vision.
- The actions you are or intend to take.
- The timeline you expect your plan to require.
- The resources required.
- The ways you will be accountable to your stakeholders including sponsors and donors.
Understanding What is Important
Ultimately, what you need to tell potential donors and sponsors is the information that is important to them. While there are questions you can anticipate, the best way to know what information potential supporters need is to ask them. Whether you start with a market research exercise such as a feasibility study or you talk to each prospect before asking them for money, if you take a prospect centric approach to your messaging, you will be well on your way to showcasing your cause in a compelling light.