How to Start a Successful Project
1. WHY – Why do you want to set up a project? It helps if you start with something that you really care about and are willing to spend time to develop.
2. WHAT – What are you raising money for and what is your funding goal? Be specific about what you are doing, how much money you need and how the money will be used.
3. HOW - How are you going to raise the money necessary for your project? The easy answer is by rallying your friends and family, but it is always a good idea to think broader and develop a fundraising plan beyond just a simple ask.
4. Now that you have the basics, set up your project account at the Foundation. You will need the following information to get set up:
a. A project name – choose a descriptive name that will make an impression.
b. A picture or video of your project in action or a logo that will be a brand for your project.
c. A concise narrative description, 255 characters, covering what the project is all about.
d. A headshot picture of you, the project manager and the location of your project activities.
e. Complete the Operating Project Application with a broader description of your charitable purpose and activities, a first-year budget, case statement and project profile. Email or send these documents with your initial funding for the project of $2,000 or more. The initial $2,000 is an administrative expense. These funds are used to setup your project in the accounting system, donor management system, online giving system, implement the donor portal for donors who donate to your project(allows donors to see and manage their donations online), build the editable website profile page, create the script needed for a donate button on your website and the integrate the online reporting system so that you can manage donations and distributions.
f. You will be set up on the website as a project and will receive a username and password. You can now begin to raise funds for the project. You can also edit and update your project information at any time and get information on who has given to your project, money available and distributions you have requested from your project. All of the forms used in the foundation are available in the FORMS SECTION of the Project Manager page and can be submitted online from anywhere in the world. The charitable contribution information is uploaded every night to the web.
5. Now that your project is active, it is time to start your fundraising. First, make a donation to your own project so you can see what happens. Don't ask friends and family to donate until you have set the example and you know what information they will receive. This may also give you a chance to set the benchmark that you would like to see for the average donation.
a. Assemble an email mailing list of friends and family, write your first post and email it out to the mailing list with a link to your webpage. Personalize the emails if you can. Most people don't mind pitching in for a cause if a friend or family member is involved and is passionate about it. Personalized invitations to contribute work way better than mass emails.
b. Face to face presentations are even better. Develop your "elevator speech" and include the following information:
Why is it important?
Why is this the best way?
Get in front of as many people as you can to explain your project. Not only will you become more polished the more you present, but you will become more passionate about the cause as you present it over and over again.
c. Send out a broader informational appeal to your social media contacts on Facebook, Linkin, Instagram etc. and let them know what you are doing and invite them to be involved.
6. You now have a few donations and are moving toward your goal. It is time to update the original donors and connect in new people. Tell them what you are doing, what you are feeling, what you are thinking and any results you are seeing. Talk about why you are doing it and tell your supporters a little more about the cause. Build your mailing list, both email and snail mail. Ideally, your mailing list should be at least 5 times the size of your donor list. You should always be in the process of connecting with people at a deeper level linking them with what you are doing. Go back to your family and friends and ask them who they know that might be interested in what you are doing and if they would use their social media to introduce you to more friends.
7. See what other people who are raising money for similar causes are doing. Should you host a dinner or dessert, run a race, give up something for the cause, etc., it is always good to do things that connect people with your cause. Maybe you should invite people to do a Personal Fundraising Page for you, see "FUNDRAISE FOR THIS PROJECT" on the website.
8. Check your website regularly to see who is giving and to keep the content fresh. Every time you add an update to the website, send it to your mailing list. Pictures and video are very important for your website. I have a friend in the marketing business who says, "if there isn't a picture or a video, it didn't happen!"
9. Continually thank your supporters and meet with them or talk with them by phone. Tell them how their money is being used and what an encouragement they are to you. The goal is to build long-term donor relationships that last beyond the first gift.
10. Evaluate your commitment and act appropriately. Is this a hobby that you pursue in your spare time, a part-time job that gives you a sense of purpose along with your other work or would you like it to be a full time job. How you answer this question will determine how diligent you will be in your fundraising activities and how professional you will be in your ministry.
11. If you are committed to the cause then you need to assemble a posse. Nobody makes it in ministry alone. While you do not have to have a formal board, you do need people who you trust who can help you and give you honest feedback. People who will have your back when the going gets rough or things get discouraging.
12. Plan ahead for both ministry and funding. Develop a broad three-year plan, but focus on specific goals over the next six months. Pick 5-6 things that are critical to accomplish, that if done will have a major impact on your project. What would you do if your funding goals are exceeded and what will you do if funding falls short.
13. Consider setting up your own website. If you build it, they will come! Catchy phrase, but not really true on the web. They will only come if you drive traffic to it and use the website to better brand your project and better explain your cause. All of the resources available to your project in the Foundation can be plugged into your website and linked back to the Foundation. You can also set up a cause page on Facebook, post regularly and track the traffic.
14. Begin to network with others who are committed to your cause or who you can partner with to cross promote and provide mutual benefits. These people are not your competitors, they are fellow enthusiasts about your cause and we all are better together.
15. Celebrate accomplishments, important events and ministry milestones. The longer you survive and the more you report, the more committed your supporters will become. Give them opportunities to celebrate with you!
For help or questions about starting your project or making your current project more successful, please contact us directly.