The exasperation felt by parents the world over when their child goes through the “why?” phase is the content of a surprising amount of internet real estate. We start out curious – it’s how we learn about all the things – why is the sky blue? Why do I have to stop when you tell me to? Why do I have to go to bed? Why did you call my brother Daniel?
In time we learn how to satisfy our own curiosities – learning teaches us how to find information and of course nowadays we can simply google everything (maybe that won’t work on why my parents called my brother Daniel) – and we are encouraged to curb our need to ask why? of others all of time. Of course some of us remain naturally curious, others not so much.
As fundraisers there are lots of times when we can harness that once-frustrating question to really challenge ourselves in our work. One such occasion is in developing our core proposition, our case for support.
A strong proposition is a powerful tool that sets out why a donor should support your cause and why they should support it via your organisation. Are you confident that your proposition is as strong as it should be? Does it cover all of the areas you may be asked about? Four key questions that are often confused in a proposition are these:
- What are the project activities?
- What are the project outputs?
- What are the projects outcomes?
- What impact will the project have?
Using why? can really help you make the important leap as this very simple example shows:
- My project provides mentoring support to fundraisers in small charities by training experienced fundraisers as mentors. We not only undertake the training and matching of pairs but also provide support to both sides during the year-long relationship. This is done during three intakes each year.
- We match 45 volunteer mentors with 45 in need of mentoring each year. Each pair undertakes a year-long relationship, meeting at least monthly.
- The mentored develop their fundraising skills and knowledge; the mentor receives training in, and experience of, mentoring.
This is often the place we stop – it is the direct stuff that is straightforward. But now is not the moment to stop. Now is the moment to ask ourselves “okay – but why?”
- The mentee’s organisation sees increased income from fundraising. The sector’s talent pool is net increased thanks to this development of talent from within.
You can then go on to ask why? again and you’ll come back to your core purpose (hopefully)
- With the removal of government funding over the last six years, small charities have closed if they have not been able to diversify their income. Whilst fundraising is not the only way to do that, it is an important opportunity that is ignored by charities who cannot afford to invest in this area.
The next time you’re writing a proposition – be it a case for support or an appeal letter – why? not take the time to ask yourself why? a few times – just to be sure?