One of GPA Chicago’s thought leaders was very kind to contribute her views on “How to Deliver a More Compelling Presentation to Funders,” the theme of our chapter meeting in February 2014.
Eileen F. Murphy is State Director of Best Buddies Illinois. A graduate of Antioch College, Eileen has worked for BBIL for almost eight years and won State Director of the Year in her third year. She has worked in special events, program planning and fundraising for twenty-five years.
GPA: Why is a face-to-face interaction important to communicate with a funder?
EFM: You convey face to face what you cannot convey in writing. Other senses come into play. Your personality, your knowledge, passion for the project etc. It is always a good thing to get a chance to meet face to face. You hopefully will get the grant, and if not, they know more about you. Something may come up in the future that you are a good fit for. Perhaps a collaboration.
GPA: What will resonate with them?
EFM: You are in the black. You are a responsible shepherd of their donation. Their dollar goes along way. You and your staff deeply care about the mission. It’s your job to make them deeply care through photos, phrases and perhaps bringing those you serve. Their gift results in lives changing. Draw on an experience that is universal such as eating lunch with your friends in the HS cafeteria, friendship in general. Imagine what it is like to only have caretakers as friends, or not get invited to parties. Then imagine you have a school with 200 members of the Best Buddies Club who have literally changed the culture of the school. Everyone deserves a typical teenage experience.
GPA: What do I need to know about the person(s) with whom I’ll be meeting?
EFM: Everything if possible. Do a little research. What makes them tick? My last meeting was with a seventeen year old and was one of the more difficult ones. You are going to meet with all kinds of people.
GPA: How do I create an effective mix of compelling data and stories?
EFM: Evaluations, program statistics, your trajectory based on a growth plan, uniqueness of the agency, numbers served and in what capacity. When I was in the arts, I tailored the “ask” to the asker. Were they interested in movie stars, struggling film makers, or arts education in the inner-city? Mentoring (the last 16 years) involved similar preparations. Are they interested in a geographic area, children or adults, low income or the suburbs? Same thing but different. The impact one person or a group can have on a life and the course of that life. Show this in studies. Intellectually understand and feel it. Don’t make up programs to fit a foundation; it adds money to the budget and takes away what you really want funding for.
GPA: How do I go beyond their expectations?
EFM: Be prepared for every question – audit, budget, programs, growth and history. Ask how they would like the meeting to go after friendly banter. Most foundations have a way that they conduct their meetings but are open to your own surprises (a participant, a parent, or a board member). But I would check ahead of time with them. If you are meeting them at a location – you have their cell phone, you’ve arranged for parking, you are waiting at the entrance. Be passionate and informational. Read your visitor. Does he/she look bored? Be in tune with that. I think it is easy to talk too much especially when you are passionate.