Back in 2009 when we were first getting started, I attended a fundraising bootcamp hosted by For Impact. That’s where I met Unreasonable Mentor Tom Suddes, a wisecracking, self-deprecating founder of 19 companies who can do 1,000 push-ups in a day, used to be a pro boxer, and never seems to run out of energy. He’s raised $1 billion himself, coached entrepreneurs to raise a total of $1 billion, and is currently coaching his third billion.

Fundraising takes up at least 50 percent of a CEO’s time. Tweet This Quote

Tom’s got three keys to fundraising, which are relevant to both for-profit and for-impact (what the IRS calls non-profit) fundraising. They may sound simple, but do not be fooled. I used them to raise our most recent round of $1.2 million in a few months. This blog post details the three keys and offers you templates and example emails to implement them.

Key #1: Be with the right person.

This is the most frequently overlooked part of fundraising and perhaps the most important one to get right. Here are the steps to hone in on the right people:

  • Come up with an ideal profile. What does your dream funder look like? What are their characteristics? Write them down and ask people in your network if they know anyone who fits your description. For example, if you were running a venture providing employment to people with disabilities in India you might look for someone who:
  • Has a loved one with a disability.
  • Believes in dignified solutions, like job training or livelihood creation, that allow people with disabilities to move out of poverty, rather than charity.
  • Is someone who you would enjoy having a beer with every week.
  • Is someone you’d want as a mentor.
  • Is of Indian descent or has traveled to India several times.
  • Come up with at least 50 prospects who match your ideal profile. Put them in a “prospective funder tracker” like this one. Keep this funder tracker regularly updated with all the conversations you have with potential funders (Note: Thanks to Unreasonable Mentor, Billy Parish, for sharing the first version of this template).
  • Prioritize your prospects based on the 3 Cs. The funders who are most likely to give you money are those who meet the three Cs. They care about what you’re doing. They have the capacity to support you (which you can assess by looking at other funding they’ve done, looking up their personal background on Google for a sense of their affluence, or simply having an honest conversation with them). They have a personal connection to you. The funders who meet all 3 Cs are your top targets and the first ones who you should ask. Many funders will care about what you’re doing and have the capacity to support you. Build a personal connection with these funders and ask. Don’t bother with those who don’t care about what you’re doing, and de-prioritize those who don’t have the capacity to fund you (although, it may be worth it to let them know you’re looking for contacts who could help you raise the amount you’re looking for). Your goal is to have 25 prospective funders who care about what you’re doing and have the capacity to support you. You should assume roughly two of them will give you funding (Note: Thanks to former teammate Ian Kim for teaching me the three Cs).

Do your homework and explain why you believe you have a unique connection with the funder. Tweet This Quote

Key #2: Predispose prospects in your favor.

If someone cares about your mission, has the capacity to fund you, and is positively inclined in your direction before you ask them for money, odds are in your favor that they’ll agree to fund you. Predisposition, or the process of getting someone to feel like they want to support you before you even ask, is an incredibly important part of fundraising. Here are the most powerful ways to predispose someone.

  • Get introduced by someone they trust. If you don’t know this prospect, but someone they trust can connect you, ask for that introduction! Ideally, you want the connector to say, “Sarah, you have to meet [insert your name here]! What she’s doing with [insert your company here] is beyond inspiring and amazing and I think it’s one of the most impactful organizations I’ve seen. No pressure, but I’d love for you to sit down and learn about their model. If it’s the right fit, it might make a great addition to your portfolio.”
  • Write a thoughtful email explaining your intentions upfront. Funders know why startups/early-stage organizations approach them. Yet, so many of these organizations mask their intentions by saying, “I just want to chat and get to know you.” That sort of line annoys funders. It makes them feel like they can’t trust entrepreneurs who approach them, who carry a secret agenda (that’s actually obvious to everyone). Be upfront with them and start off on the right foot. Here are a few email examples of how to do that. Seek permission to have a conversation with them about funding, rather than tricking them into having the conversation with you.

In your initial conversations with a prospective funder, get to know what you could do to help them. Tweet This Quote

  • Tell them why you chose them (source: Adam Grant in this blog post on how to get important people to email you back). Sure, funders have money. That’s why everyone wants to talk to them. But why do you want to talk to this particular funder? Make them feel special. Show them you’ve done your homework and explain why you believe there’s a unique connection here. Tell them you’re aware of their funding criteria and patterns (if they have any) and that you fall in those criteria.
  • Show, don’t tell. The single best way to predispose a funder to saying yes to you is to let them experience your work first hand. For example, we just received a large grant from a foundation. The reason they were willing to give us this grant is that they came to the Unreasonable Institute, participated in our Investor Days and Unreasonable Climax events, got to meet our entrepreneurs, connected with mentors in our network, began working with our lawyer to help make deals, visited the work of several of our ventures, funded four of them, and got to know our entire team on a 2-day retreat in the mountains. By the time we asked them for funding, they were already huge fans of Unreasonable Institute. If you can’t get a prospective investor to come see your work, get them as close as you can with videos, testimonials, and traction.

The single best way to predispose a funder to saying yes to you is to let them experience your work first-hand. Tweet This Quote

  • Be of service to your prospect. Funders are always looking for connections to people they can co-invest/co-fund with, well-aligned deals, lawyers to help them disperse cash well, chances to learn about new funding models, etc. In your initial conversations with a prospect, get to know what you could do to help them. Then make sure that you do it.
  • De-risk the idea of funding your venture by showing “social proof.” Funders are often herd animals. They have to make high-stakes bets (worth thousands or millions of dollars) on stuff they know very little about, surrounded by uncertainty (startups/early-stage organizations). So they rely heavily on the opinions of other people who have investigated your venture. When you share what you’re doing with a funder, give them some insight into who else is supporting you. For instance, we just got a $256,000 grant from Rockefeller Foundation. You better believe we are sharing this with prospects! We also share a few examples of our mentors, press we’ve received, and results to date.

Key #3: Just ask.

If you have connected with the right person and effectively predisposed them toward you, all you have to do is ask. This is where a lot of people struggle. But, if you’ve predisposed properly and declared your intentions form the start, all you have to do now is be direct. Here’s how to do it:

  • Show them the levels they can come in at. You may not know what capacity a funder has. So present various levels they could come in to fund you (e.g. $50,000, $100,000, $500,000).
  • Show them what they get for their money: return or impact. Explain to a funder exactly what she’s going to get for giving you her capital. If that’s financial return, walk her through your projects and your strategy for how you’ll provide liquidity for investors. If that’s impact, show a funder what their dollars will do. For example, 2013 Unreasonable Venture MANA Nutrition showed prospective funders that every $60 invested in MANA could forever cure a child of severe acute malnutrition. A $60,000 investment, therefore, would cure 1,000 kids!

Funding is not a one-way relationship; they want benefit from the funding they provide. Tweet This Quote

  • Give them a 2-pager. For our raise, I started by sending funders a 27-page document to read. Guess how many read it? Zero. Funders get tons of requests for money, so respect their time and start by sending them a two-pager. They’ll ask for more detail if they want it. We have raised the bulk of our funds to date nothing more than having funders visit Unreasonable, a 2-pager, a budget, and a few phone calls and in-person meetings.

Here’s our two-pager as an example. It should include the following elements:

  • Your mission and company description in 1-3 sentences.
  • Amount of funding you’re raising and deadline for raising it.
  • A visual of what you do.
  • Your traction to date.
  • The strategy you need to funding to make happen (ideally visually).
  • Use of funds and high level budget (ideally visually).
  • Timeline for implementation.
  • Follow up with them regularly. They are going to take time to get back to you—they get a lot of requests, and it takes time to do diligence. Make sure that you stay in touch regularly. Typically, funders move more quickly if you impose a deadline and create a sense of urgency. Even as a non-profit, you can establish a final date for raising your “round.” See the follow up email that I sent to a funder as an example (third email in the doc).
  • Know your budget cold. Be able to justify your amounts. One of the first questions that funders asked me is, “Why do you need this much? How do you know it costs this much?” I was once discussing a grant of several hundred thousand dollars with a prospective funder, and as we were going through the funds needed, I couldn’t account for $40,000. She still gave me the money, but she subtracted $40,000 from the amount I requested. I learned the hard way to make sure I do my homework. Now, we include examples of past initiatives we’ve run that have similar costs as evidence, or we cite how much other organizations spend to do something analogous.

If you have to choose between building your company and fundraising, prioritize building your company. Tweet This Quote

  • Give them an easy out so you can get clarity. My good friend Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital, uses the line, “No is my second favorite answer” to show prospective funders they should be honest about their interest. You want clarity so you can focus your time on the prospects most likely to fund you. See an example of an email I sent to a funder after about 3 months of chatting with her about it (fourth email in the google doc).
  • Make sure you commit to getting them what they want out of the relationship. Funding is not a one-way relationship. Funders want benefit from the funding they provide. It’s imperative you ask them why they’d consider funding you and what they want out of the relationship, whether that’s return, recognition, learning, a chance to be on your board, or a chance to be associated with your inspiring work. Discuss this early with the funder and devise a plan to fulfill their expectations.

A few other considerations:

  • Fundraising is really, really hard. To an entrepreneur, funders are erratic, random, and slow to move. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that their job is to predict the success of ventures without evidence. They are frequently wrong, and when they’re gambling their hard-earned personal funds or hard-raised funds from others, they have a tough job. So expect that funders will be erratic, random, and slow to move.
  • Fundraising is at least 50 percent of a CEO’s time. That’s 2.5 days out of every week focused on only fundraising. If you have to choose between building your company and fundraising, prioritize building your company (because a better company is more likely to attract funding). But, ideally, entrust building your company to your team and make fundraising your focus (source: Paul Graham).

It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that a funder’s job is to predict the success of a venture without evidence. Tweet This Quote

  • You can’t do it alone. Fundraising is emotionally grinding. It takes a long time, you don’t usually know where you stand, you put in a lot of effort for a delayed payoff, and it’s harder than you expect—much harder. Therefore, you are unlikely to progress without support from a “fundraising committee” or a “fundraising mentor” checking in with you once every week. The role of this fundraising committee/mentor is to go through your list of targets with you and ask you where each relationship stands, what progress you’ve made since last week, and ask you what next steps you’re going to take. Their job is really to serve as a mirror of your progress and hold you accountable. If you leave it to yourself to fundraise, you’ll put off making asks, drop key next steps, and focus on smaller urgent tasks that pop up. (Many thanks to Unreasonable Mentor Scott Leonard for being my fundraising committee and believing in me through our raise!)

In summary, as you prepare set forth and raise the capital you require, remember:

  1. Be with the right person.
  2. Predispose them in your favor.
  3. Just ask.

You just may surprise yourself…


A version of this article originally published in May 2014. It’s been updated and reposted to inspire further conversation.

About the author

Teju Ravilochan

Teju Ravilochan

Teju is co-founder and CEO of the Unreasonable Institute. He is driven by the desire to live in a world where every human being can be the master of their own fate, unbound by the chains of poverty, oppression, or injustice.

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Many thanks to sources like Tom Suddes and Paul Graham for informing much of this post!

    Have you discovered other keys to fundraising? Please share them!

  • strakaJA01

    Hi there! Thank you for this article! I found all of your information to be super helpful. I am currently the Vice President of Fundraising for one of my University’s business organizations. This is our first year having my position around, and like you said, fundraising is HARD! I know we are on a much smaller scale compared to a company, but fundraising is all we have. The problem that we run into is not having anything to give back to funders besides putting their company logos on our website or shirts etc. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    That is a great point! It’s hard to know what to give back to funders and each funder cares about something different.

    The For Impact motto is “Impact drives income.” The more impact you can show, the more money you’ll raise. If you can offer funders feedback or data that shows them how their money actually changed lives, that is most often all the motivation they need.

    Look at this way. Someone who might be willing to fund you has money. Maybe they have a lot of money. They’ve been successful and they are ready to move to significance (in the words of Tom Suddes). You are giving them the OPPORTUNITY to be significant by having an impact. They can’t create that impact themselves. They need you. They are “hiring you” to create that impact with the funds that they provide.

    So I’m curious, what is the impact that you’re having? And how can we show that to prospective funders?

  • strakaJA01

    This is great advice! My first thought about impact is about all of the students that are funded by people that choose to donate to our organization. We go to business conferences every year, one in state (Wisconsin) and one National conference (this year’s was in Washington D.C.). We are constantly looking for funders to help offset the cost of close to $1000 a student. I’m thinking if we can lay out exactly how the donations helped us and show the results from our students, it will help us a lot! There are a lot of details, I guess it is really about picking it apart and laying it out. We have to show how the donations are helping make that difference in a student’s life and explain what the student is taking away from stuff like conferences that are life-long lessons. Would you have any other suggestions besides this? Thank you!!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Gotcha! I would recommend being very simple in the kind of impact you communicate to funders. What is the value of students attending these conferences? Do they get jobs? Do they grow or learn a new skill? Is there any way to SEE that skill?

    Referring back to the point of predisposition, what if your funders could see your work first hand? What if they could MEET the students you’re sending to these conferences? What if they could be a part of these conferences and get a deep insight into why they are so important to students? That would likely help a lot.

    The most important thing you need is a strong impact story. What does $1,000 / student create? In the example of MANA Nutrition in the blog post above, $60 cures a kid of malnutrition. That’s compelling to funders. So what does $1,000 buy a funder in terms of impact?

  • 2lvinC

    Thank you very much for this article. I appreciate all the tips that you have provided. I do not have any experience with fundraising. I always found friends who are in organizations which heavily depend on fundraising distracted by “telling” and not enough showing. I really enjoyed “show. Don’t tell” and “give them a 2-pager”. Some organizations focus too much on trying to throw as much information as possible to every possible investor. I will definitely share this article to help classmates in their fundraising efforts.

  • Jack Delabar

    We had a fundraiser for a charity called “The Girl Effect” this year. We put on a small bake sale on campus and even though it is on a small scale, some of you tactics and advice are still effective and useful! We found that a very effective tactic was to not label out goodies with a price. We had a sign that said “donations”. That way, people almost feel obligated to give more money than they usually would. We raised over $80 in just 3-4 hours of work and our class raised over $1500. Thanks for the post, Teju.

  • Riley Amos

    Great article. I feel that an often overlooked aspect of fundraising is the way that you engage your target. To me, this is likely what determines if you succeed or fail. A great simple tip that this article touched on is being sincere. The individual doing the fundraising should be passionate and well educated about the topic of which they are seeking support for regardless of if it’s a donation to a charity or an investment in a company.

  • Leticia Jáuregui

    Enjoyed this article very much. Thanks, Teju!

  • Long Bach

    This is a very interesting article about the fundamental and
    advance of fundraising basics. I am currently helping a non-profit organization
    which tries to help youth-at-risk. I just want to ask if your recommendations
    can apply to non-profit organization, and if not how what elements can be
    adjust to help the non-profit organization.

    There are a lot of differences between two organizations. And
    one of them is business goals: the main obvious difference is the profit driven
    by the for profit organization, so for the fundraising, you want to make the
    impress about how you can create a huge potential profit from your plan. In the
    other hand, for the non-profit organization, you want to appeal to their
    emotional side which the benefit of their donation can be to the unprivileged
    ones. For this, you’re First Key: Be with the right person, second key:
    Predispose prospects in your favor, and third key: Just ask can be applied for
    both organization. But is there any difference in fundraising for a nonprofit
    organization.

    And to you three keys of fundraising, most of your article
    is how you can find the potential sources of funding. But to the success of a
    fundraising, the business plan is a key for me. If the investors think that
    your business plan or valuation of your business is unobtainable or not
    realistic, there would be no one who would want to bet in your company.
    Investors want to know what you plan to do with the funding and you need to
    have a specific plan on how you will do with it. They want to know when they
    will start to get the return on their initial investment or breakeven point
    which their main objective when they invest in you. These are my addition to
    your already helpful insight in the fundraising tips.

  • Dakota Lamb

    Very interesting article, I thought it was interesting to relate the success of your fundraising to the way that you approach your target market. In addition, it was interesting to me how much time is expected for fundraising. Most people come up with a big idea and try and run with it before figuring out where the long term money will come from and how to get it. I believe this is the difference between succeeding and failing in this age. If you put in the time and the effort, along with some charm, most likely you will succeed if you put yourself out there and “just ask”.

  • Stuart McMurran

    I would really like to work on making my ideas feasible enought to be able to have investors get excited over them. I think that creating a good plan to present to investors is just a process that will take some time and research. However, the end product will be success.

  • chi shaolong

    Thank you for sharing this idea for us, the three mian point are pretty useful, because they can help me to overcome same barriers when we are fundraising, Now, we still help a business for doing the same thing.So, we have the same feeling, Usually most people would reject our request in any reason, therefore, we have no confidence to do that again. While I read this article, I find some part maybe overlook the infortant thing, like the artical say, do first, sometime we always describe what we are doing instead of showing something, so. that might be make funder unhappy.

  • ysursan

    I really enjoyed this article. Fundraising has always been a tricky task. I have been involved in a lot of events that involve fundraising and you’re right- it takes at least 50% of the entire project’s time! Fundraising is just as important as marketing in the sense that you have to focus on your target market and put a lot of time into figuring out how you will achieve impressive results. I am doing consulting for a non-profit organization for class, for a company that struggles to get funds. I will definitely share this article with them!

  • lepkowskjj29

    I agree fundraising is just as important as marketing and i believe its a harder task then marketing.

  • BartuchGR11

    Thanks for posting this blog I really enjoyed it. I will find this very helpful because I am involved in a club right now and we are doing some fundraising. So I am definitely plan on using these tips to help us raise more money. I agree that it never hurts to ask people for a donation. A person you know be able to connect you will other people who would be willing to help you fundraise and support your cause. You won’t know unless you ask.

  • weidmankl15

    Such great advice! It’s too bad in highs cool when we did fundraising, there was only 35 kids in my class so there wasn’t much to choose from to find the right person to head the fundraiser with me. For the future though, such great tips to look for in a person that you basically want as your “sidekick”. I also liked how you said it never hurts to ask someone for a donation, because really you never know what they are going to say. Whenever I did fundraisers I asked everyone I knew, because why not? If they said no, then alright I will just hit them up next time. If they said yes, I usually skipped them the next time because I didn’t want to seem greedy. Thanks for the post!!

  • weidmankl15

    I like how you relate it to marketing, because yes that is exactly it! If you don’t target the right market, how do you expect to get results? Sometimes it can be frustrating too when that target market, the people you thought would be a shoo in to purchase/donate or whatever it is, don’t go for it. Then you just have to find a new marketing strategy!

  • Trang Ho

    What an amazing article! Thank you for sharing the tips. I really love the three C’s and some templates you posted. They are very helpful. The only problem that I usually face when doing fundraising is time constraint. In the real life, we sometimes have to speedily produce a large sum of money, while it takes a while to come up with an effective plan, especially creative fundraising ideas, and wait for responses from funders. I hope you will share with us more tips about solving this timing issue in the near future. The greatest lesson I take away from your article is a significant role of networking in fundraising process. This also reminds me to keep expanding my network and stay connected with any person whom I have a chance to meet in my life. I know that there are many fundraising websites in the Internet. It would be great if you can give us some ideas/comments about those websites: which are good, reliable, easy to use, or some of your experiences in doing fundraising online? Anyway, thanks again for your awesome post. I look forward to your upcoming articles.

  • Juhno Mann

    Great article really great tips and I have definitely bookmarked the templates! I really like how everything is laid out because I don’t think there are many very helpful resources for fundraising.

  • Hi Teju, this is a fantastic piece. Thank you so much for your honesty and your willingness to share these ideas and your own documents. Moving into a big fundraising push for Spark* International in the next six months and this is an awesome contribution to that effort.

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Aaron! Thank you for such warm words! I appreciate them and I’m glad this is helpful! 🙂

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Trang, you are not the only one who feels this way about timing! The truth is that fundraising almost never happens quickly. Think about it from a funder’s perspective: they are making a decision about a whole lot of money with very little information. It’s in their interests to wait as long as possible to get as much information as they can as one good metric of a potential investment for them is the venture’s “pace of progress.” In other words, how quickly is the venture able to make progress?

    The few suggestions that I would offer for fundraising against time are:

    1) Start fundraising before you need to. Build relationships with funders, get them excited about your work, and send them regular updates about how things are progressing.

    2) When you are indeed actively fundraising, impose a deadline. Indicate that you are raising money by a specific time in the not too distant future.

    3) Funders are more likely to move quickly if you get others they co-invest with to fund you. Or, if you get a matching grant / investment that has a certain expiration date, that can also light a fire under funders.

    4) Be honest. Tell funders that you need to move quickly and why. Be thoughtful and send them what they need to make the decisions that they need to. You often will need to ask them to tell you what the next steps are and what actions you can take.

    As for websites that are useful for raising money online, I don’t have a lot of expertise there. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the two that are most well-known. Recently, it seems like AngelList and Crowdfunder have also been quite effective!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    I think one thing to consider when you get funders to fund you is to talk about the long-term. How do they want to be involved? Do they want to fund you and exit in the next round? Do they want to support you more if you reach certain milestones? If you have this conversation early with a funder, it can set you up well to ask them for additional funding later or to know that you should ask others. Fundamentally, honest and open conversations with funders go a long way!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Stuart, I think this is actually one of the most important parts of fundraising. The best way to raise money is to build an amazing product or service that customers really want or that creates real impact. This is the single best thing you can do to set yourself up to raise money well. Not everyone has this ability or the funding runway to get to this point and then raise money…but it’s generally (not always) but generally advisable to wait as long as you can to raise money (especially as a for-profit) so you can come to investors with a lot more traction and thus negotiate better terms. Even as a non-profit, having evidence of your impact gives you better odds of securing funding!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    These principles are relevant to both for-profit and non-profit fundraising. Unreasonable Institute is a non-profit so I have never personally raised money for a for-profit company, though most of the 82 companies we have worked with so far are for-profit, so we have learned a lot from them. Take my perspective here with a grain of salt.

    From what I can see, there are a few main differences. For-profit fundraising can be quite a bit more complicated than non-profit fundraising. You have to give consideration (depending on what kind of funding you’re raising) to the valuation of your company, the price of your shares, the terms you’re offering to an investor, and an exit strategy. There’s a much heavier need to consult lawyers in for-profit fundraising to get these terms dialed.

    In both for and non-profit fundraising, you can often “become who invests in you.” Some funders, in both types of organizations, may take a board seat or be able to weigh in on the direction of the venture. You want to be thoughtful about who you are taking money from, therefore, and “be with the right people.”

    Assuming you’re with the right people and their motivations overlap heavily with yours for your company, building a relationship with them, building trust, and establishing open and honest communication is paramount.

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Sincerity is a beautiful way to summarize it. Don’t play games with funders and don’t fear them. Simply be sincere. It goes a long way. 🙂

  • Angela Hoch

    I completely agree with Aaron. This is a wonderful piece that is filled with great tips and helpful resources. I really enjoyed your honesty in the article and even bookmarked the templates you suggested. Fundraising is definitely not an easy process, but your article proves that anything is possible with a little hard work. 🙂

  • ZakFritz

    This is great advice. These three keys are great. There is a lot more that goes into fundraising than I originally thought, and I only read this one blog about it. If I ever try to do one I will be sure to remember this so I can hopefully run it successfully!

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this article. It has some great advice in it. I liked how you talked about who you partner up with in doing a fundraiser. You need to be able to trust the other person and have a connection. You also have to know that your partner is as passionate as you are about what the fundraiser is for. What is the biggest fundraiser you have done?

  • KevinThomson32

    Great article. I think #1 is the most important key that gets overlooked so many times. It is such an easy idea,but we always find a way around it. If we know what type of company we want and were looking for someone to help with fundraising then we must find someone with similar qualities.

  • tjbaumeister08

    Thank you sharing this article. As of now, I personally have never put together a fundraiser but this will definitely be helpful if I ever do in the future. I would have never thought to consider all of the things mentioned above if it wasn’t for this article. How was your fundraising before you knew about these 3 keys to fundraising?

  • tjbaumeister08

    I agree that #1 is most important key. I think if you don’t find the right person then the fundraising will either not work out at all or work out but not as well as it could have if a different person was found.

  • KE ZHANG

    Thank you for sharing. This is great article for people achieve an unexpected fundraising! I really enjoy reading the three Keys and the templates that you offered. That’s offer me a new life reference for a bright way to fundraising. Fundraising is a great way to startup a business, but we all know having a appropriate fundraising is not easy and people have to consider all kinds of different aspects, like whether or not be with the right person, predispose then in your flavor. This template above is a guide that allowed us avoid some unnecessary thing which can affect the fundraising. Again thanks for sharing and i am looking forward to read your articles related real life experience.

  • Stuart McMurran

    Thanks for the helpful tip. I’ll be sure to sit down and really focus on my ideas with my business partners so that people have a clear idea of what we are doing. We’re ecited, but we need to be patient as well.

  • aulm92

    Thank you very much for this article, It had a lot of great information. Personally, I’ve never set up or run a fundraiser but thanks to this article I’ve gained a lot of information on what to do if that opportunity arises!

  • Guest

    I agree with Aaron, “Thank you so much for your honesty and your willingness to share.” This article was great on many levels. I may be looking into fundraising in my near future, so I am very grateful for the information you shared with examples. This was like a introduction course. 🙂 Thanks again, Teju. I will definitely use these pointers when my time comes for me to start fundraising.

  • Amy Pham

    Thank you for the amazing tips. I have never had experience putting a fundraiser together but for sure this article would give me many benefits in the near future. I have a question is that which step do you think is the hardest to overcome out of those three?

  • Andersonjc16

    Really enjoyed this article. Liked the way it was written, had very structured points and was easy to follow. Something that i can easily come back to and use over and over again.

  • Logan Dohmeier

    I think this is very clear yet concise article. The 3 steps that you have displayed are realistic and attainable. I think you can apply this in a multitude of situations that inevitably will relate to business, but I don’t think they have to be limited to just fundraising. I also liked the part about the 3 c’s (care, capacity, and connection) as these are very important from any sort of financial aspect in the business world. Great article, and I am curious as to what ways you think your 3 steps apply outside of the fundraising scenario?

  • Zach Perkins

    I agree and think that people could really benefit from the information provided in this article. Many people don’t have experience with this sort of skill, and as a result, they struggle to make money when their company needs it. In my opinion, for many people, the hardest of the 3 steps would be the 3rd. So often, people just don’t take that final step and “Just Ask”. This could either be a result of being scared OR they just don’t think of it at the time.

  • Teju Ravilochan

    You’re totally right Logan. I think many of these steps could be applied to getting anyone to “invest” in your company, whether that is a mentor or a potential board member, or even a prospective new hire. You might tailor a few things here or there, but largely, you could use this steps to obtain support in many ways!

  • Daniel John

    I wish we would have read this article before our fundraiser. I felt like we were a bit pushy when it came to donations instead of being more sincere. Do you think it is important to have multiple personalities when doing a fundraiser?

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Amy, I think like Zach says, a lot of people do struggle with the ask. To me, the challenge of asking can go away through practice and simply being direct and honest. What’s hardest for me is finding the right people. That is perhaps one of the most time-consuming aspects of fundraising and the most difficult to judge.

  • Brittney Glende

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us Teju, I appreciate all the honest tips and resources that can help better ourselves in our daily lives. This article was a great resource to read as I am headed into the real world. 🙂

  • Connor Driscoll

    Thanks for a great article! This applies to everyone because fundraising is something everyone will have to do at some point. I find it ironic that this article ties in directly with networking skills. For example, when you mentioned being introduced by someone they trust! Teju, before you knew about this 3 step process were your fundraising skills a lot worse?

  • mhansen11

    Thank you for this article! You really touched based on many topics here and I really liked that. These 3 steps really do work if you use them well enough. Everyone fundraise’s or helps one at one point and these could really help you. Thank you again!

  • amykahl8

    I think that the key is to target the right people/companies for your fundraising. If you target a young company they probably won’t be very willing to give. Also some people want publicity in return for donating. I also think that’s a good point that if you find a partner that’s properly motivated, or they have a real connection to raising these funds, and then the fundraising will be more successful.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I think the three C’s are the most important part of this article. To find someone who cares and has the capacity to support you is the most important because if they truly care about the issue then they’re more likely to stick with you, or so I would assume. Very interesting article!

  • LevenhagAL14

    I agree with this! I personally have a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to approaching people I’m not familiar with. So I agree when you said that it is a result of being scared.

  • Evan Hibbs

    I agree Jessica. Having the right person or people around you is important! You have to have a committed group of people.

  • Jessica Coder

    Although I have never been in the situation to need to do large fundraising- I found this article very insightful for if and when I need to finance a big venture. Although it seems pretty sensible- I never thought about the need to be matched with a compatible investor- I always thought it was just a race to see who you can score money from before another idea comes along. Now that seems a little silly, especially since an investor is often times a business partner- and you want to do business with someone compatible that will be in it for the long haul!

  • Palecekb

    Teju, great advice. I can see where the research comes in hand. I have a question on lower scale fundraising. Im in college and my sorority is constantly fundraising, but to small people with smaller wallets (like students walking through campus). How do we reach more people with bigger wallets to support the cause of smaller groups like our campus or my sorority?

  • Jen McKiernan

    Thank you for this article. These are some very great and useful tips. I don’t know when I am going to have to fundraise such large amounts of money but a lot of these tips can be useful in fundraising for sports as well so I will definitely keep them in mind while I am trying to fundraise.

  • Katie Ackerman

    This was awesome advice. I am currently in the process of setting up a fundraiser for the American Heart Association and it is certainly not as simple as I thought it would be!

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    I agree, when it comes to fundraising especially when you’re a college student, it can be a challenge. Majority of your peers are in similar if not the same financial status you’re in. Reaching out to those who can afford to support you (Big companies, professors, or other professionals) how do you go about doing so? Thank you for this insight on fundraising!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    The first question is: how much money are you trying to raise and what is the “impact” that money will create? Then, who are the people who care deeply about this impact? For example, those people could be alumnae of your sorority. Or, if your sorority is creating leadership outcomes for young women, you could find ways to connect with women leaders and business owners in the area and ask for their support.

    My guess, based on very little information (and this is only my own take), is that the generic public on a college campus isn’t the right group to target and you might experiment with reaching different audiences. You might be able to speed up the amount of time you spend fundraising if you were able to do that!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    I think you can follow the steps above! Get an introduction, write a thoughtful email, tell them why you chose them. Check out the email templates above to see some examples!

    Most people aren’t able to establish a relationship with the folks who can fund them because they don’t try to. So I think the first thing to do is understand how much you need and the impact the money will have, and who would care! Then build your ideal profile (using the 3 C’s), reach out to your network and ask for suggestions for folks who might in this profile. Build out your list of prospects, get introduction, write some thoughtful emails, and find ways to get in-person meetings! And then, JUST ASK! You’ll get no’s, but you just need a few people to say yes. 🙂

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Fundamentally, fundraising is about building authentic relationships with other human beings. Since we started, we have always been very thoughtful about this and sought advice from mentors about how to go about fundraising! We haven’t really tried to fundraise big amounts since recently, but having clarity around these three steps certainly sped up our ability to produce results quickly!

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Do you mean is it important for one person to have multiple personalities or is it important for many people to be fundraising?

    I don’t know the answer exactly. I know that different people connect with different people and that sometimes, having different people build relationships with prospects they are more likely to connect with can make sense. But I think the bottom line is: be your authentic self. If you are able to show impact, if you are able to show return, then funds will come if you build an authentic relationship with many prospects, and just ask.

  • Palecekb

    Yes, I also feel that reaching out to companies rather then broke college students could be the right idea. Is there an inappropriate amount of money to try to raise? Like to include it in the email we would send companies of our goal amount? or does this help them see where they could stand and an area of the amount of money we are trying to get from them personally?

  • Teju Ravilochan

    To quote Tom Suddes and the For Impact method, “Impact drives income.” That means, if you can make a case for your impact, the money is secondary to that. I don’t think there’s an inappropriate amount of money to ask for so long as it’s well thought through and a prospect could understand the amount of impact it’s going to create or the amount of return they could secure.

    Check out the sample emails I’ve linked above, which offer suggestions on how to phrase an introductory email, present amounts you’re seeking, etc. I think it’s a good idea to propose different levels of funding and indicate what impact each level will create / what benefits the funder will receive coming in at each level.

  • Samantha Smith

    Hi Teju, thank you so much for sharing this article with us, I really appreciate the great tips and resources that can better a starting business. If I ever open a business these are great tips to get funding. Thank you for your honest opinions.

  • Alyssa Borgrud

    I agree. This article contained a lot of valuable information about fundraising. For a club that I am in, we have to fundraise a specific amount each semester. Some of the tips from this article will really help me in succeeding in my goal each semester.

  • Josh Pritchard

    Jen, it doesn’t have to be large amounts. I am currently helping with some of the Brewers games to fundraise for my team. This helps us get through our season. This advice was really helpful. I hope to use some of this in the near future. Thanks!

  • Palecekb

    I will check them out! Thank you for such a useful post! I have posted it on my Sorority’s page for my fundraising chair to take a look at for some ideas for the upcoming semester!

  • Austin Dorman

    Thank you for this article! I really like the tips you very clearly laid out and defined. I also like how you went out and stated that fundraising is not easy and it is very time consuming. I think some people get the wrong idea about fundraising but you made laid it all out and made it seem possible with enough hard work. Thanks again for the article!

  • Austin Dorman

    I found the same thing when trying to set up a fundraiser for my local archery club. There is a lot more time and effort that goes into it than I could ever have though. But good luck with yours! It’s nice to see that you are trying to help out such a great organization.

  • Austin Dorman

    That’s awesome that you have a success story to go a long with this article. It shows that if I put in enough time and effort that I also should be able to be successful with fundraising.

  • Anthony Urbanski

    Thanks for article, it had some great advice. I really enjoyed tip three, just ask. Too often we fall victim to this, if only we had the courage to just ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll say no, big deal atleast you got an answer. Remembering to ask and following up with the funder is a critical step!

  • Daniel John

    I agree that being your authentic self will make the greatest impact. Thank you again for the post it was very helpful and I will definitely share this article with my friends.

  • Brittney Glende

    Hello Alyssa, I agree with you, the clubs I am in on campus also do a lot of fundraising! There were many great tips from this article that I will be passing on and sharing with my organizations.

  • Brittney Glende

    I felt the exact same way when I read this article. The three C’s are something I look for in someone 🙂 It is amazing when you find someone who cares and has the capacity to support you. This was a great article!!

  • Taylor Schulz

    Great article and great tips, Teju! Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Angela Hoch

    Katie, I also have realized that setting up a fundraiser isn’t as easy as some may believe. There’s a lot of planning and hard work that goes along with it. When we did the Girl Effect fundraiser, I went into it thinking it would be a breeze, but realized that it would’ve turned out a lot better with more planning and advertising. But on the positive side, at least we are trying 🙂

  • Tyler Steinmetz

    I completely agree with you, Anthony! How can someone be afraid to ask a question when you don’t even know what the answer is going to be? It never hurts to ask a question, especially when it is in terms of fundraising or charity. You never know the answer for sure until you “Just Ask!”

  • strakaJA01

    Again, great advice!! Having students meet the funders and creating a personal connection is a route that I think could help make our organization successful! I am currently working on how to show our funders what their donations do for students. How they help our students grow and engage in opportunities. Thank you!

  • Steven Bichler

    I think your last key was the most crucial, Just Ask. Some people just get scared that they will fail, and that is not acceptable to me. So what if you fail, there are billions of people on this earth, you are bound to find someone that is willing to help. As Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

  • Steven Bichler

    I 100% agree here. Thats the worst case scenario. Best case scenario is they help. However if you don’t ask what is guaranteed to happen is nothing. A quote i think fits this well is by Michael Jordan who said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

  • Steven Bichler

    It is very tough to step out of your comfort zone, and not be scared. However once you do this, you open up so much opportunities that you didn’t have before because you were too scared to “just ask”

  • schrammjm26

    Thanks for posting! I noticed what you wrote with the three step process has a strong resemblance to the sale process.
    1) Identifying if your with the right person, or the person has a need for what you have to offer.
    2) Qualifying your prospect, or making sure that the person your talking to has the ability to make decisions and access to the resources to back those decisions.
    3) Ask for the close, asking for the close is essential to any sale. If you don’t ask, the result of your conversation could be misinterpreted by either party.
    I myself and going into sales so I can appreciate the facts that you wrote above, thank you very much for sharing!

  • Matthew Gust

    Yeah definitely! Just asking is hard thing people never really understand. I think this is true especially with our generation. We are afraid to just ask. There is nothing wrong with just taking and taking a chance.

  • laurenkraft

    I agree, Tip 3 was my favorite. Seems simple right? Just ask. In fact its the hardest for many people, people don’t want to fail. They don’t want to be shut down with an idea. Totally makes sense. But we have to man up and just ask like you said the worst they can say is no. At least you asked though.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for the article!! I like all the tips you offer to help about fundraising. We always had to do something like this a sport in high school to get new equipment. I agree its important to your homework on the company and what are you fundraising for then they will understand.

  • clemonsel02

    This article is so honest I think that is the reason I connected so much to it. The point that I connected with the most was “Identifying if your with the right person, or the person has a need for what you have to offer. ” I think this idea is so simple but so powerful. It makes you realize that not every person you are with are really the right person for the job or to be with you. Do you think people over look this to much already?

  • Janna Bartels

    Thank you for your post! It is incredibly helpful. You make it sound so easy in the beginning, yet are honest about how much time and energy it really takes to do fundraising right. You provide such a great resource to those who are fundraising!

  • Max Rude

    Would there be a different to approach a smaller hometown fundraiser or would it be the same.

  • Tim Rutkowski

    I agree with you Max, without knowing this it is kind of hard to say how I feel about this.

  • Teju Ravilochan

    Max and Tim, I don’t have personal experience in the kind of fundraising you’re talking about, so take this with a grain of salt. But I do believe that these principles of fundraising can be applied to most every fundraising context.

  • Brittany Arrington

    This article is very, very helpful. Many people think that when they need to fundraise, the right person will just fall into their lap and want to donate to their cause. Then they soon realize that in order to find the ideal funder, they must put in some work in order to find that person. I like these three points because it breaks it up from trying to find the right person, to the best way to be introduced to start your relationship with a base of trust, and finally to just ask for what you need versus beating around the bush. I do feel that if someone is looking for a funder to fund a significant amount of money, following these steps will make them more successful.

  • yencheskcj27

    Great article. I especially liked Key 1 and finding the right person. If we seek to find investors for our company, we will undoubtedly waste time, energy, and resources if we simply contact random people who what excess capital. We must first find people who fit the criteria you listed; I especially think the 3 C’s are great qualifiers. If we follow this outline, we increase our chances of getting someone to contribute to your cause, thus reducing waste in time, energy, and resources.

  • Charles Fischer

    Great article that does not sugar coat the hard work it takes to raise money.

  • This article was extremely helpful in finding out the how’s and how not’s to get funding for projects! A lot of the ideas were simple and were just common sense. However, by seeing these ideas as part of an organized plan by a person who has seen success in this type of business, an individual looking for funding just has to follow the simple instructions to gain success. This is just like a road map toward a successful destination in our financial future. Awesome article!

  • Austin Dorman

    First off, thank you for this post! I am currently in the process of setting up a fundraiser for my local little league team that I coach back home. I definitely underestimated how much work that entailed. There is a lot more planning and technical work than I could have ever expected. This article has definitely opened my eyes up to some helpful tactics. So for that, again, I thank you!

  • GSonDUBS

    I LOVE IT!!! So many things lined up with my mentor. The most important thing I was taught was “Be Honest”. Not a good idea trying to hide your real purpose, an investor can smell you from miles away. Investors understand people are going to try to get them to invest, they have no problem saying “No” to you and we should have no problem hearing the answer “No.
    Thank you for the write up!!!

  • Julio Salazar

    Teju, this is a great article. Thank you for the wonderful insights and total transparency. The Cirklo team will use this advice moving into our fundraising effort for CitySense. Un abrazo desde México.

  • Glassborow

    Thank you for this great article! I love all the points you have given and think they are extremely helpful, I myself would love to one day own a health shop and learning these key points make me so much more motivated to try and get it started! My favorite part of the article was the 3 C’s, it’s simple and easy to remember and I think are extremely important to know when looking for some help. It’s also great to know that this advice actually works as you have had first hand experience.

  • Great article, thank you for the post. I’m glad I found this
    post because fund raising always seems to come up at least a couple times a
    year and these tips will defiantly help when trying to pursue big ventures as
    well as small for-impact ventures.

  • Samantha Lavenau

    Love this article! In my senior year of high school I was in a class that was all about fundraising. I wish we could have known these tactics and ideas you suggested to make the process easier and more fun. Fundraising is harder than it looks and when I plan to fundraise in the future I will keep these ideas in mind.

  • Austin Jones

    These tactics are so helpful! Were currently doing a fund raiser to get a new lockeroom and these tactics would deffinitely help people to donate. Maybe if i try these tactics on you you would donate? ehh probably not but worth a shot right? but youre right fund raising aint easy. its alot easier to hang up on someone than to actually make the effort to donate

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    did the same. bookmarked a few templates. great stuff for fundraising and your right not a lot of helpful resources for it.

  • Sara_Kay0316

    I agree with this as well. I think a lot of people go into fundraising totally clueless. There are so many resources open to us and we don’t even realize how many opportunities we actually have. I recently did a fundraiser for a health class and made way more money than we expected to make which was awesome. I am actually really surprised at how much one fundraiser can make a difference to someone such as the “girl effect” whom we helped to get them out of poverty.

  • Radaya123

    Asking is only half the battle, but anticipating the response is probably the hardest thing to accept. No hurts. LOL

  • sophia laValley

    Great tips to help with fundraising. It’s such a difficult daunting task with so much confusing information out there. I think the most helpful tip is “be with the right person.”