I was reading a home improvement magazine recently and noticed an article, "Ten Basic Tools for Every Homeowner." What do you have in that special drawer in the kitchen to help you do it yourself? First of all you must have a hammer; not that a hammer will fix every problem, but sometimes it just feels good to pound on something that's not working right.
Don't forget screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, and a tape measure. If you're going to hang a picture, it helps to have a nifty little ultra-sound gadget to find the studs in the wall. A utility knife is another essential tool that will either solve your problem or make a bigger one.
I was somewhat disappointed not to find any power tools listed in the article. Maybe it's a guy thing, but I feel like they at least should have included a high-torque power screwdriver for installing face plates on electrical outlets.
While you might be able to take care of all of your minor household repairs with a few hand tools, when it comes to raising money for your pregnancy care center, there is one power tool that you must have. It's called a case statement or leadership proposal. This is a solicitation tool that effectively tells your story to a potential donor.
Here are some key elements to consider when writing your first fundraising power tool:
The leadership proposal is a six- or seven-page document that looks professional, but doesn't need to be fancy. Four-color brochures are great, but they don't raise money. They educate.
Tell the story of your ministry -- where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.
Your proposal should be optimistic, easy to remember, and brief.
Communicate clearly what the donor's investment will accomplish.
Include information that will reach your donor's mind and touch your donor's heart.
Share a story of how your ministry has met the need of a woman in crisis.
Express a sense of urgency to complete the project.
Describe your project and outline a simple budget for each phase of the campaign.
An effective way of communicating the range and size of gifts you need is to include a suggested "Stewardship Profile" with a "Scale of Gifts" in your proposal. Include a statement such as: "This scale of gifts describes the number and types of gifts we need to turn our goals into reality. Your generous gift to this effort is the key to making it a reality."
Showing the summary budget and scale of gifts quickly conveys the scope and needs of your proposal. A major donor will scan your list of needs in order to identify what need he might fulfill. Here is an example:
Annual Fund for 3 years
Proposed Scale of Gifts for the Campaign
Numerous other gifts ...
The final ingredient in an effective leadership proposal is the "ask." You want to ask your donors to help your ministry in three ways:
"Would you pray for the success of our campaign?" As a leader of a ministry that counsels hurting people, you understand the necessity of prayer. Enlist your donors for their prayer support.
"Would you consider a generous, sacrificial gift to this project?" Ask this question to get them thinking how they might get involved, but come back and expand upon it, after you ask the third question.
"Would you consider volunteering your time as a 'friend-raiser' by introducing us to individuals who might have an interest in our ministry?" Some of your greatest opportunities could come by networking with your current donors. Remember: proposals don't raise money, people do.
The last page of your leadership proposal has one purpose -- to request a specific amount for the campaign. Your sentence could sound something like this: "Based on the need presented, your understanding, and your appreciation of our ministry, would you be open to considering a gift of $15,000 to be contributed over the next three years?" Ask for a specific amount. Major donors anticipate an "ask," and they want to know what you want.
The leadership proposal will help you focus your conversation on why you are meeting with the donor in the first place -- to ask. If you add this power tool to your fundraising tool chest, you will become a master craftsman as you build your ministry.
Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, a board member on two nonprofit ministries, and as a Vice President for Institutional Advancement at a Christian college. He currently serves as education director for a Christian foundation. He can be reached at (610) 913-0697 or by writing to SnLFound@aol.com.