Turn your focus on well connected and wealthy individuals in your community. You’re more likely to have a secondary or tertiary connection to them and they’re also more likely to care about what you’re doing.
Another thing to consider, of course, is whether or not these community members would be interested in what you’re doing, but how can you know that? Well, you have to do some research. This type of pre-pitch research is called “prospect research” and includes everything from networking to making contacts to checking multiple sources.
Instead of focusing on specific numbers linked with specific needs — like “I need $1,000 to replace the windows in this rural school” — link donations directly with the social impact that your project will make. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one. You need to convince your donor that their money is not an investment into your organization but rather into making meaningful, impactful social change.
Nell Edgington gives this example in her ebook Financing Not Fundraising of an after school program for at-risk kids in order to illustrate how to connect your ask with the greater social change instead of a specific need.
“According to the nonprofit’s theory of change, they translate dollars into positive outcomes for the children (increased student achievement, fewer high-school drop outs, fewer behavioral issues). If the organization were to fundraise around the organization’s needs it might sound like this: “Help us reach our goal of raising $100,000 for our program.” But if instead they were to fundraise around a message of social impact, it might sound like this: 12 “Invest in our work to give kids a better future, making them contributing members of society and our community stronger and healthier.” The first message is about strengthening an organization; the second message is about strengthening a community. The message of impact is not just something nonprofits should use for major donor asks. It can be used to varying degrees in all campaigns, large or small, and in all channels (social media, direct mail, email, in-person). In so doing, the organization is creating a loyal following of donors who believe in the change the nonprofit is creating and view themselves as critical partners in making that change happen.“
Finally, once you’re further along in the conversation, don’t ever accept money from donors who want you to do everything you pitched them, but for a lower price point. Stick to your guns and make it clear that you’ve spent the time working out the costs and less money will equal less impact, period.