Someone asked a really great question: how can I present my project to a donor who is not nearby and cannot come and see what we do? I love the insight behind that question. The understanding that your donor needs to feel a connection to your project that’s not just in words. So let’s have a look at what’s important in presenting your project to a donor.
Creating a connection
The goal of a project proposal is to connect your plans (and needs for money to execute them) with a donor on the level of a shared dream for the same impact. So you must find a way to make it clear to your donor that your project will help bring about the impact that they, your donor, are dreaming about. And that you are the right organisation for them to support in this dream.
(Donors also need assurance about your professionalism in executing the plan. And they may have questions for you to help them find out about your systems and policies and such. Make sure you always truthfully deliver on these questions.)
Words can create misunderstandings
Very often we focus on writing about our plans and ourselves to make clear to our donor that we are sharing the same dream. And to show our project is perfectly placed to achieve that dream. And of course, words are good for describing a plan.
But words can also create misunderstandings. Especially if your donor is not from your part of the world they may not see the same picture in your words as you do.
Help your donor form a picture …
Words can also create distance. If your donor is not familiar with your surroundings for instance, they may not be able to get a clear picture from words alone. And if they cannot get a picture, your beautiful words will be just – words. They won’t touch your donor. And they won’t mobilise your donor into action.
So your presentation should include visual elements, too. Like pictures, or drawings or cartoons, or even video if that’s possible.
… of the impact of your work
You don’t need to have professional pictures or glossy videos. The key is in the message. You need pictures that help you get the message across and that touch your donor so they feel compelled to take action.
To achieve that, your picture (or video, cartoon, drawing, collage, etc.) needs to be part of a story. And the story needs to make clear what impact you create for the community or cause you work with.
And then, and this, and whatnot
You are seeking a connection with your donor at the level of your shared dream, the vision and the impact you both want to contribute to.
So your story shouldn’t read like a holiday postcard: “The weather is great and we have been eating ice cream every day.”, reporting about facts and activities.
Your story is about the impact.
“It’s really nice to be away from work for a while, I have been able to rest and now my health is much better. I think all my health complaints were stress-related and when I will be back home I will make sure not to go back to my stressy way of living. I now know better”.
This is about the impact of the holiday, right? Not about the doing of the holiday.
This is where a reader will start seeing the importance of ice cream 😉
So what’s important in presenting your project to a donor
Let’s recap. For starters, you need a great idea and a solid project plan. (And whatever else your donor may ask for!).
And your project plan needs to show clearly to the donor what shared dream is going to be achieved by the project work. You need to show the impact you will create with this project.
To make that clear, you need to use stories about the impact (or the need for the impact) in the community where the project will happen. (Stories not about eating ice cream but about feeling healthy due to having peace of mind and time to enjoy ice cream …)
And your stories need visuals that support the story and make it more tangible for the donor. That doesn’t mean you need to have pictures of crying girls or calamities. Sometimes a picture of a beautiful detail can be more powerful than some of the catastrophe pictures people may have seen a thousand times already.
- One picture can be powerful. But honestly, when I see reports or proposals with a full page of just pictures – without context or captions – these are the pages I quickly flip through. And you don’t want your donor to do the same of course!
- Please read this article and create a policy around us of photos and having people in photos.
How I can help
If you don’t have your vision, mission, value statement, I have a free mini course for you to help you with that. You can sign up here: https://www.changingtides.eu/3-steps-to-a-solid-base-for-your-nonprofit/ to get started straightaway.
If you want to learn more about how you can design a successful project, join my course Project Design for nonprofits. You can learn at your own pace and ask me anything in our live sessions and in our members only community. Find out more and enroll via this link: https://bit.ly/courseprojectdesign
Want to know more and ask questions?
If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
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