Fundraising Home Runs!


Let’s face it, most people in the non-profit world don’t love fundraising but it’s the nature of the work.  The non-profit, whether it is ministry, a museum, or a civic organization, all need partners to help them do this work.

I have worked in this realm long enough to have picked up a few nuggets along the way.  Currently we are in the middle of my son’s baseball season – rookies rule!  In my entire life I have never watched as much baseball as I have in the past two months.  Honestly, I have loved it!  Today’s analogy comes straight from the field.

Let me go over the baseball diamond and I think you will get my analogy.

The Pitch.  The pitching mound is the vision.  What is your vision?  Why are you asking people to consider partnering with you in a financial manner?  What are you trying to accomplish?  How are you growing, moving, building, or making a difference?  This is what sits on the pitching mound – because this is what you pitch.

The Dugout.  Best I can tell, the dugout is for players.  Charlie (my son) has to sit in the dugout sometimes.  Here are two facts of the dugout – (1) you have to be a player, and (2) you’re not in the game at that point if you are in the dugout.  The dugout for the non-profit are all the financial partners that are “players.”  You can determine what that means, but the simple description is they are your top 20% — and for most this means around 20-30 people will be in your dugout.

On Deck.  Here’s how it works for Charlie.  His coach does a great job of yelling out the next three.  Billy is hitting, John is on deck, and Charlie is next in line.  We are always clear who the “next three” are.  The “on deck” position for the non-profit leader is to look into the dugout and see which are the next three friends who get to hear your vision.  You can place them in the “on deck” position which signals for you that these are the friends you are calling for an appointment.

1st Base – “The Call.”  First base is when the appointment is made.  It is when you have made the call and said, “Would love a time to come talk to you specifically about a vision we have which we think will have huge ramifications for the next 3-5 years. I would love to show it to you and see what you think, and if you would partner with us to make it a reality.”  The call

2nd Base – “The Appointment.”  How do you evaluate a critical movement?  One way is to look back on a month and see how many appointments (face to face) with your partners have actually come to fruition.  Certainly, when you arrive at the appointment there should be some materials that support the “vision.”

3rd Base – “The Ask.”  I will be the first to tell you that I have made appointments, sat with a partner, and NOT made an “ask.”  It happens.  Rather, a good appointment is defined by going over the materials and ASKING specifically for an aspect of the vision.

Home Plate – “The Answer.”  Certainly we would love a score here.  A score being defined by a “yes.”  Yet, any answer suffices to bring our partner from 3rd to home plate.  Yesterday I had to follow-up with a few of my friends as I had made the appointment, shared the vision, moved them to 3rd – meaning the ask was complete, but there they sat.  I followed up and now have an appointment for further discussion.  Home plate is the “answer.”

Dugout II – As the benefactors, builders, partners, friends, investors, or donors have gone around the bases or not yet been “on deck,” the dugout is a time to cultivate, communicate, and make them feel a part of your community.  As their phone rings for an appointment, their phone, inbox, mailbox, or eyes should have seen evidence of YOU.  The dugout is a time to DIG IN and share all the good things that are transpiring with your efforts.

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Yesterday I met with one of my heroes, our Greater LA Regional Director Alan Smyth.  Alan had gone through his benefactors as well as potential and had placed them on the “diamond.”  It is a point of clarity, it is a structure, and for him, it was a way to move people along the bases.  He texted me last night, “Lunch appt set up for June 21 with Bill Johnson. “Ask” is on the agenda.”

Let’s face it, most people in the non-profit world don’t love fundraising but it’s the nature of the work.   One of the more fruitful things (for those of you who relate to today’s topic) you can do is to diagram your own diamond.  Place your investors and friends onto the field.  Get your vision ready to pitch, and move people on deck.  Batter up!  Let’s do this!

Have a great day at the park!


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