Getting your message across is paramount in fundraising. But there’s a communication paradox before us: On the one hand, there are now more means to share your fundraising needs than ever before. On the other hand, getting your message across to your donor base is harder than it’s ever been.
Every day we encounter a deluge of information, and our brain is very selective. It takes in, filters and readily disposes of information it doesn’t need. But, along the way, key pieces of information do get stored and cemented. How can you get your message through the brain’s filtering process?
Although the digital age gives us countless new ways to communicate, don’t forget about the tried and true — those trusty strategies we relied on well before the digital age; for example, an inspiring speech or a pulpit announcement.
A pulpit announcement or speech at a gala or fundraising event happens when donors are not only in one room, but they are also likely unplugged from their phones. In this day and age, there are few instances when that many people convene and are not online in some shape or form. This creates an ideal avenue for you to deliver a memorable message.
The three tips below serve as a guide to deliver a pulpit announcement or fundraising speech that is deliberate, effective and lasting. Ultimately, these three tips will help you fundraise for your cause.
Leaders are responsible for communicating, and people expect it. Consider all the leaders within your community and identify who is the best fit for announcing your fundraising needs. Regardless of who makes the announcement, remember that a good announcement cannot be left to chance. The most seasoned public speakers (we have many at the Steier Group) frequently underscore the importance of preparing thoroughly before a public speaking engagement. In planning ahead, always keep your audience in mind. Craft a message that will match families emotionally and intellectually. You can do this by dialoguing with donors beforehand and listening to an array of perspectives. Finally, timing is everything. Review your organization’s calendar. Will the announcement be competing with other announcements? Time your message so that it’s a standalone.
Tell a story
“Once upon a time, in a land far away” gets more attention than a rundown of the numbers. Of course, always be ready to provide numbers. But weave a story into your speech. People respond to stories because we interpret the world through them. We remember vivid language, imagery and metaphors far more easily than a list of numbers. Consider telling the story of an individual or family who will benefit greatly from your fundraising initiative. In telling their story, you can also effectively articulate what needs to be done and answer the why: Why is the fundraising initiative imperative to the future of your organization? As tempting as it may be dazzle with numbers, remember that a powerful story will capture the imagination of many more people.
End on a positive note
Last impressions are lasting impressions. You have fundraising needs, which implies there is a problem to be solved. But don’t end on the problem. Again, as one of the leaders in your community, you are called to focus on the opportunity at hand and inspire action. As an extension of the story you tell, paint the big picture, and depict how your organization will stand to benefit after funds are raised and projects are completed. Everyone loves a happy ending!
The digital age gives us wonderful communication tools, and you should use them to help you fundraise wherever appropriate. But our current communication environment is also prone to information overload, which makes it difficult for our messages to make a lasting impression. As you look to fundraise for a project or a campaign, don’t underestimate how effective a speech can be.
If you would like to learn more about the Steier Group’s services or other fundraising advice, please contact me at any time.