Tag Archives: Relationships

Fundraising: How to raise $10,000 in an hour

Back in the clean-cut fundraising job days:)

I’ll never forget how I learned how to raise $10,000 in an hour.

Before I get there though, I have to say that some things you learn the hard way.   In my first couple years of work as a professional fundraiser I learned a lot about how not to do things.

Inefficient Fundraising

Classic example:  In my first year I struggled to lead a sprawling committee of volunteers and hospital employees (I worked for a hospital) through months of agonizing planning for a huge gala event. It was super rough.

In the end we only made a few thousand dollars in profit from the event and I was just relieved to not be in the hole.

Take 2

A year or so after this messy attempt at fundraising I had my first experience of asking a couple for a large donation.

I sat down with them and, after some small talk, asked for $10,000 to support a certain project.  They agreed on the spot.

In less than an hour I had raised more cash than it had taken both me and a committee endless hours and huge stress to achieve with my gala event.

The key to success

What was the difference between these two experiences?  What made one fundraising method effective and the other a dud?

The answer is as simple as it is frustrating to newbies: effective strategy.  “What does that even mean??”

Well, for starters, if you just dive into fundraising with blind faith and zero tactics you may get lucky and raise some cash but generally your results will be terrible.

Getting to the point where you have a relationship with potential donors and you can ask them for $10,000 (or much more) takes careful thinking.

Relationship

You want to woo them to your cause. There are several critical elements in effective fundraising strategy but in this post I want to start with the most important one: relationship.

Let’s get back to my good news with the $10,000 “ask”.  The reason I was successful was that I had a very strong relationship with my donors. They knew why I was visiting them and they were ready to help.

Do you have a dream of supporting a big cause or starting a really innovative new business?  If you do, you are going to need support.

Woo your people

Make sure you surround yourself with the right people, with people that make things happen.  Treat these people right.

Support them and do all you can to understand them and help them out.  Be the best colleague/club member/tennis partner they have.  Hook them up when you can.  Nurture your relationships.  Bring your very capable friends close to your cause. Talk big, share your passion, ask for ideas.  Make the friends that you would like as donors feel invested in what you are doing.  They should feel part of the action, like they and their input matters.  They are your VIPs.

When the time is right, you can ask for their help and chances are they will be very, very helpful.  Possibly even “$10,000 helpful”.

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Seduce a Swede – Steps 1-5

mouse trap with cheese and "free cheese" sign.

We’ve all had to endure the heavy-breathing commentary about Swedish women, their striking blond hair, long limbs and  “clothing optional” approach to life in general.  Swedish women are characterized by global media and entertainment as sexually liberated, touchingly naive blond goddesses. Swedish men on the other hand, almost always look goofy in movies and seem only to have two names: Sven and Bjorn.  As Bjorn happens to be my first name, I thought it appropriate to lay down a few helpful steps for anyone who might be looking to snare a viking for themselves.

For step one, let the following sink in: “Dating” is not big in Swedish culture.  There isn’t even a real Swedish name for it.  You can “dejta” or “gå på dejt” (Both basically mean “go on a date” and borrow directly from the English.)  What this means is that Swedish dating rules are, at best, unwritten, and visitors often find them very confusing.

The second step to romancing a Swede is to understand that gender equality is huge in Sweden.  Guys, women will absolutely expect to be treated as your equal.  Ladies, don’t be shocked if Swedish men don’t fall over themselves to carry your shopping.  Because gender equality is foundational to modern Swedish culture, some Swedish women may even be offended if males go too far with opening every door and trying to treat them like the “fairer sex”.  Genuine warmth and charisma are appreciated by both sexes but save the dramatic serenades for Southern Europe, Swedes are more low key.

At the risk of completely contradicting myself, here’s step three.  A lot of Swedish women complain about the fact that Swedish men are often very shy and don’t like to make the first move.  Often it seems that the average Swedish male needs to be on his fourth round of beers before he can muster the courage to utter a tepid, “Hi my name is Sven” (Yes, if Sven is under 50 and he is like most Swedes, he probably will speak reasonable, if somewhat sing-songy English). Herein lies the opportunity for non-Swedish males: a little charm goes a long way.  Simple things like you initiating conversation or offering to pay for a meal when it was your idea, will equal points.  Women, if you like the shy, mysterious type, Bjorn may be your guy.  Ask him about Swedish bastu (sauna) rituals. He may open up and suggest you go for “fika” (no, that is not nearly as exciting as it sounds – fika is the Swedish custom of sitting down for
coffee and pastries).

The digital age has enabled step four.  Swedes are BIG on texting.  A lot of conversation that you would expect to take place face-to-face, happens via SMS.  Texts are preferable to talking to new acquaintances on the phone. Pick up a number from Greta at ICA (one of the main Swedish supermarket chains) last night?  Texting is your ticket…

And now for step five in reeling in your Swede:  Cultural sensitivity is fine but DO NOT try to be Swedish.  Anyone in any culture can spot a wannabe and Swedes in particular are turned off by phony behavior.  Many Swedes are fascinated with traveling and getting to know people from other places.  So by all means appreciate Sweden but don’t be reluctant to chime in about your own country, its customs and way of life.  Chances are your guy or girl will find what you are saying interesting and they will want to get to know you better.

There’s absolutely no reason to sit alone in your hotel room or apartment while in Sweden.  Put steps one through five into practice and get to know the Swedes you come into contact with.  You’ll be glad you did.  Lycka till!

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Bjorn Karlman