This podcast began in 2017 right after I’d written my book, Fundraising Freedom. It was a huge undertaking, I used all of 2016 to write the book. I pretty much locked myself inside for one year – surrounded myself with authors – and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. One of the topics I’m most passionate about is joy and one of the things that bring me the most joy is having deep conversations. Being able to have deep conversations about fundraising with you brings me incredible joy!
Looking back a few years ago and thinking about what I wanted to deliver to you, it was really important for me to have a place to share new ideas. I’ve wanted to be a thought leader in the fundraising space. I wanted to share my ideas, because like you, I am always testing different ideas to figure out the best way to fundraise. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t – you have to be willing to adjust and modify. What I do know is that the 7 steps I teach in Fundraising Freedom work. They absolutely work today just like they did when I was writing the book. The first of the 7 steps I teach is Focus Your Vision and today I want to jump to that step as we figure out how to adjust in this new season.
Focus Your Vision – what is it you and your organization want? A friend of mine sent me a podcast episode to listen to the other day, and in it, it said that we are all back to being startups again because everyone is home. How do you fundraise when you’re at home and everyone is stressed about their finances? Every week I’m on a call with my Fundraising Freedom students and last week I couldn’t even believe we were still talking about this virus. One of my clients brought up a conversation about how they were on a plan to raise funds for a particular project that now doesn’t seem as relevant. They’ve raised all this money to do this great project, and now it doesn’t make sense because of health issues and their community is in disarray. When you go back to the vision of your cause, it may no longer make sense to keep working on the same project. We have to go back to square one and decide what we are here for. Go back to the vision and the mission and now, figure out what you can do today to serve your people well.
When it comes to fundraising, I have a feeling that you still need to raise money. You cannot stop or freeze because you’re going to struggling to raise money if you let this pandemic push you back 12, 18, 24 months. You must continue to adjust and figure out ways to engage with donors and volunteers. As you think about your vision, what do you stand for? For me, I have always wanted to end the lack and scarcity mindset, so this is my season! I had a client tell me last week that they received a $25,000 donation. Another told me about a $10,000 donation that came in as well. There are donations still being made. Why? Because those people asked six months ago and are following through with conversations that were had months ago. Every conversation you’re having today will impact the next couple of months or years. That’s why important to not stop and continue doing the work you do.
I recently came across an article about an organization that instead of canceling their fundraiser, they moved everything online and held a virtual event. They raised 140% of their goal! Last week my clients and I had a brainstorming session where we talked through ideas on how to come up with innovative ways to engage with people. One of the pastors on the call made a comment about how people are so desperate for engagement and community because they don’t have it right now. He recommended that now is a great time to host prayer meetings and I immediately stole the idea! Next Thursday, we’re doing a prayer party! We’re not going to make it a huge deal, we’re just going to reconnect with people on Zoom and reengage with people we haven’t talked to in a long time.
I send out an email every single week (hopefully, you’re on my email list, if not go to maryvalloni.com to sign up). I want to encourage you to communicate well with your constituents. Be consistent. You have to send good communication, not just anything and everything. This is when people start to get annoyed and will unsubscribe or unfriend you. You have to say things that are relevant. Make sure you’re educating your people about your cause; share the stories about how your people are adjusting and still being served. Also, you must embrace technology. Zoom Video is a great way to meet with people face to face.
I want to share an update with you on what I’ve been working on. As I’m meeting with people, I’m feeling their anxiety and their stress coming across. When you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are living in a place of darkness, it’s not going to be by chance that you feel fear, anxiety, and frustration. I’m all about creating an environment that is safe, encouraging, and uplifting. As I was meeting with my students last week, I had an epiphany that I need to get what I’m doing out to more people. I’m working to revamp and bring my program to do just that. This Thursday, I want to get together. I want to invite you to join me on Zoom at 1PM, and we’re going to get together and talk about how to fundraise. More important than information, there’s something extremely powerful about community. Community and coaching are two things I’m very passionate about and there’s something special that happens during these coaching calls where new ideas flow and crazy synergy occurs. I have room for 100 people. I’m going to push you and encourage you to continue moving forward. You are not alone so you won’t want to miss this meeting!
- Thursday, April 2nd, 1PM CST
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