The character, Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," illustrates the impact of this opportunity when he is visited by three ghosts who show him what his life was, is, and will be if he continues on his current path. Together, the ghosts persuade the stingiest of men to open his heart and his fist to give away what he deems most valuable. But that would not have happened without all three ghosts working together. Oh, and let’s not forget Jacob Marley in his chains.
For the sake of illustration only, let’s compare your potential donors to Scrooges. They have money and a lot of good will in their hearts, but at the present time, they have no reason to open their hearts or their wallets to you or your cause. So how do you create a meaningful moment, or a series of them, to motivate financial commitment? The answer to this question has the potential to transform your school.
But let’s start where Scrooge had to begin—with ourselves. How well do you know yourself? What fears and attitudes are inhibiting you and your ability to engage others in your fundraising campaign? How does this influence the way donors perceive you and the school? You don’t want to appear too money hungry or desperate, so you hold back and find other things to do.
Take a moment to examine your relationship with your school. Your relationship results can be evaluated by the culture of the organization. Is everyone happy to be there--do they feel valued? Are you only there because there’s nowhere else to be? Upon whom is your organization centered—you, the students, the teachers, the parents? The administrator who sees his or her role as servant leadership usually has the healthiest school culture.
Donors trust organizations with compelling visions, goals, and results. They value the attitude of service and sacrifice from the school leaders and trust when they are implementing wise business principles. Just like Scrooge, donors want to be shown how their donations will impact the school and the community. They want to see the real results and the improvements that their dollars will make. This helps build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Once you have established such relationships, you can start cultivating donors, deepening their involvement through your continuum of engagement. Segment donor groups by what they love and assign indicators in your database so that you can create a targeted campaign for each. You’ll find more value in showing them the potential results than you will in sending out pledge cards over and over. Invest the time to know your donor base to create that Christmas Carol moment and maybe Scrooge will show up to your Christmas party with a goose after all.