A toolkit is just as important to a fundraiser as it is to a builder.
Instead of hammers and wrenches, your kit needs a different set of tools, including proposal templates, initial letters, concept notes, letters of intent, and perhaps even a brochure.
These tools are vital to your team’s work, not just for getting the task done, but for ensuring quality and consistency across the board.
That’s because in a team of fundraisers—especially with the high turnover in the sector—your communications with potential funders can vary greatly, as can the results. A toolkit ensures that standard practices are in place to maintain consistency from your team, no matter how many staff take part.
Keep in mind, funding is still a numbers game—even the best toolkits won’t help much if you don’t ask enough prospects (which you can do by working backwards). That said, quality is still critical too—as you make more asks, your toolkit ensures the quality of those asks.
Pulling together the pieces of your toolkit
When building your proposal template, aim to create an entire list of template sections.
Rather than writing and using a single standardized proposal for all funders, create common paragraphs that articulate your story, purpose, and successes, which your team can pick and choose from to create a tailored proposal for the prospect.
It should be a similar story for your eventual ask. While each ask must be bespoke, you can use the same process and guidelines to craft the ask.
Can your team identify words or phrases the funder prefers?
Does the client have a certain background, or require answers to certain questions?
From the funder’s giving history, can you identify any patterns or stories about the funder you can reflect back to them?
Must your cause meet specific criteria for the funder?
All of this information should be prevalent in the ask itself, and you can accomplish this funder-ask synergy with structured processes throughout all your communications to create the most promising outcome.
Once you are done, all of the tools should be ready and waiting for your fundraising team to adapt and send away as needed.
Creating consistent, high-quality messaging with your toolkit
Relationship building is a key element in the fundraising process, especially for major gifts.
Unfortunately, no one can perfectly predict these relationships, but we can use what we know to ensure the messaging will always be on brand.
For example, we know that a conversation with a prospect will change and grow throughout the stages. You will find yourself covering similar points, and you’ll often be asked the same questions time and time again.
Therefore, you and your team can develop common approaches, messages, and responses. With your collective knowledge, experience, and communication skills, you will find the strongest stories and cases to support positive relationship building throughout the stages.
Just think of them as templates for conversations, ensuring your team has quality, meaningful messages for every question and talking point during the process.
The next step is to ensure that everyone on the team has access to your kit and is able to deploy the tools inside at any time.
How do you implement toolkits?
Once you have done the legwork of creating a toolkit, it’s time to put it to use – it won’t help anyone if it’s left to collect dust.
Start by keeping every aspect of the toolkit in a single place, and make sure you have a version control system to ensure there is only one copy of each tool. This will ensure staff are clear on the final, current version, rather than searching through documents with names like ‘Final final actual final proposal template 7’.
Implementation can also require foreplanning in the tool creation steps.
When you make it a collaborative effort to ensure you find your best stories and messages, you’re also establishing engagement from those who will eventually use these tools.
This means setting out tools as a group, even involving those in the business not directly involved in the fundraising efforts – and perhaps even including the board.
This buy-in is a fantastic ancillary benefit, but keep in mind the key takeaway of the group effort is to find the best messaging.
Embedding in processes
Everything about your toolkit should be embedded throughout your processes for maximum success.
Whenever anyone on the team has an opportunity to gather information from a funder, the templates must be at hand and ready to be implemented.
Additionally, no proposal or funder meeting should begin without fundraisers first consulting your templates, so it should be a standard process to review the templates before each meeting or event.
As always, happy fundraising!
PS. At Ajah, we live and breathe fundraising processes. We think about how to create them, how to improve them, how to implement them, and how to review them on a regular basis, so if you’re looking for help with your fundraising efforts, book a free consultation with us today.